Thoughts on the night sky

What do you see when you look at the night sky? What do you think about yourself when you think about the night sky?

A lot of people today see the vastness of the heavens. Scientists tell us that our solar system is off in a corner of a vast galaxy, and there are other galaxies just as large. Life on earth doesn’t seem very important in comparison. As a song in a Broadway musical puts it, “You can’t even count the stars in the sky, and compared to the sky the sea looks small. And two little people, you and I, we don’t count at all.”

What did people think of the night sky before we got all this scientific knowledge? One ancient astronomer wrote that in comparison with the distance to the stars, the earth is a point without magnitude. The vastness of the heavens is not a new idea.

But it was not the vastness that caught their imagination; it was the brightness. By day, the sun lit the earth. When it went down, all was dark—except for the moon and the stars. The heavens were glorious. The earth was not. And so many people decided to worship the sun, moon, and stars, which were so obviously greater than anything or anyone on earth.

Whether it’s the vastness of the heavens or the glorious brightness, there is something that makes people think of themselves as puny, weak, and insignificant in comparison. Even David wrote, “When I consider of your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:3-4). But where the pagan mind answers, “man is nothing,” David answered, “You have made him little lower than God.”

David looked not only at the night sky, but considered the God who had made both the heavens and mankind on earth. Isaiah did, too. “Look to the heavens. Who created all of these?” (Isaiah 40:26). The sun comes up. The sun goes down. There is a predictable rhythm. The moon comes up. The moon goes down. There is a different rhythm. The stars have their own rhythm. And everything is always where it is supposed to be. No one has ever looked at the night sky and noticed, “There are only two stars in Orion’s belt tonight. What happened to the other one?”

In all the vastness of space, nothing gets lost. That’s because God is even vaster. The stars know nothing and care nothing about life on earth, but God knows and cares. God knows every time a sparrow falls to the ground. God knows how many hairs are on each of our heads. If we look at the sky and think only about what we can see, the universe gets very lonely. If we look at the sky and think about the God who created it, only then can we think of the greatness of his love for all of his creation. Even us.

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