After lulling his sheep to sleep, the shepherd leaned back onto his makeshift bed and looked up as the stars took their assigned seats, right on schedule. With just his 20/20s as sponges, he soaked up the grandeur of a star-drenched heaven, sighed, and said, "The heavens declare the glory of God…He counts the stars and calls them all by name." Little did the psalmist know how many stars that meant or how many names that would require.
Now, lean back in your own makeshift bed and compare that night's stargazing to our highly sophisticated knowledge of astronomy and see if the stars don't do the same to you now as they did to the psalmist then.
From a dream conceived in the 1940s, designed and built in the '70s and '80s, and finally operational in the '90s, a telescope was birthed that only now is beginning to show us the extent of the shepherd's wonder. The Hubble Space Telescope, the most elaborate, powerful and expensive looking glass in (or out of) the world, is celebrating its 23rd birthday aloft. From its non-polluted vantage point 373 miles above the earth, we're able to go where no human eye has gone before.
Here are some of Hubble's findings that David spoke of in Psalm 19
:A new kind of star called magnetar.
This extremely heavy and dense object is no bigger than a large city but weighs more than the sun. Its highly condensed magnetic pull is a billion times stronger than the earth's and could suck coins out of your pocket from 100,000 miles away.Once only a theory, black holes are now common sightings.
One such stellar phenomenon is on a feeding frenzy, having swallowed more than 1 billion stars into an area no larger than our solar system.New quasars
have been discovered which pour out 1,000 times more light than a 100-billion-star galaxy.The Ring Nebula's
spectacular blue, green and red gasses appear to be the colorful remains of a massive exploded star. The ring's diameter is 6 trillion miles across, and the formation of the debris suggests the star was spinning so fast that it actually flattened prior to blowing up—all this though our laws of physics say that's impossible.While scientists aren't certain what causes a gamma-ray burst
, one such explosion in a far-off region of the universe in 1999 produced the light of 10 million, billion suns. For one second, it turned the universal night sky into daylight.There's evidence of dark energy throughout space
, which causes a repulsive action against gravity. This force is shoving galaxies away from each other at ever-increasing speeds.The Orion Nebula
houses our nearest stellar nursery—currently giving birth to 3,000 new stars.
No wonder the psalmist said, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, [I conclude] how majestic is Your name in all the earth!" Yet, with all our technology, we still only see the tip of the universal iceberg—but what a tip it is!
There's a strong parallel between peeking at the heavenly wonders through a telescope and what we're able to show our people about God from our pulpits each week.
We open His Word and teach about our Creator, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. We give glimpses of eternity through a straw, heaven through a keyhole. We speak of immortality from a mortal's viewpoint and offer His living Word through perishing lips. We tell all we know about an omniscient God.
With all our might we speak of His omnipotence. In our ever-changing world, we tell of His immutability. We faithfully labor through Scripture, but His truth cannot be exhausted.
Though "we see through a glass, darkly," it's still a fabulous sight every time we take a look. There's so much about our God to brag about. So, point to Him with pride.