The Space Age

“When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him? for Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet.” —Psalm 8:3-6

WHEN the first atomic bomb was exploded more than twenty years ago it was announced that the world had entered “the atomic age.” When, on October 4, 1957, Russia sent Sputnik I hurtling beyond the atmosphere of the earth it was said by scientists that this launched “the space age.” This was the first time that man had been able to break away from the atmosphere of the earth, and to a large extent from the gravitational pull of the planet on which he lives.

However, the eyes of many here on earth had for centuries past been glancing up into the heavens with a growing longing and determination to explore the unknown worlds which prior to our generation have been beyond the realm which human wisdom and skill could reach. Man was limited for long centuries in his knowledge of outer space by the restricted vision of the naked eye. But what could be seen without the aid of a telescope enraptured the studious and reverent. David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork.”—Ps. 19:1

Perhaps some watched the flight of birds, and wondered if the time might one day come when humans could “take wings” and break away from earth to soar into the wonderlands of the skies. We know that many were tremendously impressed by what they could see of the sun, the moon, and the stars. There were sun worshipers, and moon worshipers. To the worshipers of the sun its shining rays were a token of its friendship and love. When the clouds hid its face, and storms buffeted them, it meant that their god was angry.

But not all the knowledge of the heavens was associated with religious worship. Wise men noted the regular movements of the stars, and of the sun and the moon. They took notice also of the changing shape of the moon. From these they were able to establish a definite measurement of passing time, of days, and months, and years. It is not unreasonable to suppose that some even in ancient times may have had dreams of visiting the moon, and perhaps some of the stars.

Indeed, in A.D. 160, a Greek named Lucian wrote a story of a flight to the moon on artificial wings. Lucian did not know that the atmosphere around the earth which makes the flight of birds possible, and which would make possible the use of his dreamed-of artificial wings, did not reach to within nearly a quarter of a million miles of the moon. Indeed, it was many centuries after his day before this knowledge became available.


The ancients did not realize that the way man would reach the moon way by the use of rockets. Indeed, they knew nothing about rockets. It was from the tenth to the twelfth century that the principle of rocketry was first developed, and this came about through the use of gunpowder. Gunpowder was then a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potash. When this mixture was set on fire it burned rapidly. As this fast-burning mixture become standardized it was discovered to be a source of power. Experimenters, by confining the burning gases in a tube, found that gunpowder could be used to propel an iron ball, not only fast, but very straight. A dangerous weapon thus came into being which could be used for defense, for war, and even for hunting.

As time went on it was discovered that this form and use of power could be employed to hurtle arrows through the air. Seemingly this discovery was not confined to one country, for reports came to hand indicating “arrows of flying fire” were being used in China and in various parts of Europe. These newly developed weapons were used against the British in India. Rockets were used extensively in London, Paris, and Rome in various celebrations and festivals. These developments occurred during the eighteenth century.

There were further developments of the rocket principle during the nineteenth century, and it was put to many and varied uses, even to the saving of stranded sailors on ships which had been wrecked on the rocks near the shore. Further progress was made during the twentieth century, finally leading to the much desired flight to the moon. In the nineteenth century a great step forward was taken by implementing a suggestion made by a little known Russian teacher of mathematics, K. E. Tsiokovski, that liquid propellants could be used, and thus a much greater rocket thrust be realized.

In the Second World War

The majority of our present generation will remember the wide use of rockets by Germany in World War II. The German V-2 rockets were launched first against Paris, and thousands were later directed at England, and they became the dread of the British people. They carried a one-ton warhead of high explosives which struck the ground at supersonic speed, and with the added horror of not giving any audible warning.

After the Second World War, Dr. Wernher von Braun, who was instrumental in developing the V-2 rockets for the Germans, was brought to this country, where he directed the building of huge military rockets. In 1958 he was put in charge of the new ‘civilian space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which is more simply known as NASA. This German scientist, together with a team of NASA experts, designed and developed the Saturn rocket for the Apollo moon program, which has already placed four men on the moon and brought them back to earth.

Meanwhile there have been many unmanned flights into outer space, all made possible by the rocket. And what does it all mean? Already there is talk of journeying to Mars, and even to Venus—two other planets in our solar system. But if this is done it will be some time in the future, for the present plans of NASA are to first thoroughly explore the moon.

The Planets

In our solar system there are nine planets, the smallest of which is Mercury, and the largest Jupiter. Earth is the fifth largest planet, and so far as scientists now know, is the only one which has an atmosphere suitable for sustaining plant and animal life such as we have on earth. The word “planet” means “wandering star” for they appeared as such to the ancient astronomers who first noted them among the stars.

Planets, unlike the sun and stars, have no source of light of their own. They appear to shine among the stars by virtue of the reflected light of the sun. Stars are actually suns with their own source of light and heat. What is known as the Milky Way contains over two billion stars. It is but one of billions of galaxies in the universe. Our sun would appear as but a grain of sand in this vast ocean of suns which have been created by the handiwork of God.

The landing of men on the moon is properly considered to be a marvelous achievement, but how insignificant it is when we consider the extent of the whole universe of God, and how long it would take for human ingenuity to explore it all. And this seems especially true when we consider that man thus far has been unable to solve the problems he has created for himself right here on earth. One wonders at the wisdom of sending men to the moon at a cost of billions of dollars, when right here in the United States alone, fifteen million Americans go to bed hungry every night because they have no money to buy food.

The Earth, Man’s Home

So far as we know, there is nothing in the Bible to indicate that it is contrary to the Creator’s will that man should endeavor to travel to the moon or to the other planets for exploration purposes. However, the Bible does make it plain that the great Creator of the universe designed and made Planet Earth for the habitation of man. When first he was created God said to man, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish [fill] the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”—Gen. 1:28

In our text David echoes this same great truth: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Since the sun, in size, is but as a grain of sand in the Milky Way galaxy of stars, and as the earth is much smaller than the sun, what can we say of man who lives on the earth?

True, size is not always the important consideration when making comparisons, but is the comparison any more favorable if we consider man’s ability as compared to the handiwork of God as we see it on display in the heavens? No wonder David asked, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” When David meditated upon what God had wrought he was overwhelmed with the realization that such a wise and powerful Creator was interested in puny man.

This interest was deep-seated and genuine. It was displayed by the fact that the Creator had indicated his plan to visit man—not personally, of course, but by sending his special agent, his beloved Son, to earth on behalf of mankind. Man needed this visit. While he had been created in the image of God, and had been given dominion over the earth and the things of the earth, he had transgressed divine law, and was now fallen from divine favor and on his way to destruction.

A star, or a planet, or the moon, has no choice but to obey the law of the Creator; but man did have a choice, and he had chosen to disobey, and was in trouble—on a collision course, we might say, which, unless it could be changed, would lead to his complete and everlasting destruction. But God proposed to do something about it. He had created man in his own image, and appointed him king of earth. This made him important in the Creator’s sight, so he devised a plan whereby man could be given an opportunity to return, like the lost sheep, to the Creator’s fold.

This plan involved a “visit” to the earth by a representative of the great Creator, and this representative, as we have noted, is God’s beloved Son. Jesus said, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) In harmony with this, Jesus first came to earth to lay down his acquired earthly life in sacrifice that thereby sin-cursed and dying man might be redeemed.

Lower Than the Angels

Among God’s creatures the Bible speaks of “angels.” These are invisible to the human eye, and are not confined to the atmosphere of the earth. The Bible informs us that man was created “a little lower than the angels,” and we know that his life, apart from cumbersome and artificial means of survival, is confined to the earth. And it was this earthly, or human creature, which disobeyed divine law, and brought upon himself the penalty of death, and a “corresponding price” to rescue him involved the sacrificial death of another human, the perfect “man, Christ Jesus.”

It has been a human custom throughout the centuries to “visit” the needy and the ailing to show interest and render possible help. This is the background thought of the statement, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Man had been created in the image of God, but through his own disobedience he found himself in serious trouble. He was sick and dying, so the plan of the great Creator called for a “visit” by One so interested in man that he was willing to lay down his life to bring about his recovery.


When Jesus came he not only sacrificed his life to provide for man’s recovery from sin and death, but he began the selection of a small group of humans who, when they learned about the divine plan, would themselves be desirous of participating in it, even to the extent of laying down their lives as Jesus did. These are the ones who take up their cross and follow Jesus into sacrificial death, that they might prove worthy to be associated with him later on in the actual recovery of mankind from sickness and death.

This facet of the Creator’s grand design has been progressing now for nearly two thousand years; but there is good reason to believe that it will soon be completed, and then it will be the time for the great work of restoring mankind to life and to his lost dominion to begin. The Apostle Paul quotes from our text, and adds words of explanation: “One in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”—Heb. 2:6-9

“We see not yet all things put under” man, Paul says, but “we see Jesus.” We see that Jesus, in his initial “visit” to man, gave his life in preparation for man’s recovery of dominion and life. Thus we have the fact of the Creator’s interest in his human creatures confirmed. The initial step in the “visiting” phase of his grand design has already taken place.

The Scriptures reveal that another “visit” is scheduled in the divine plan, a return visit of Christ, in fact, to accomplish that for which he made provision when he was here the first time; namely, the actual restoration of that which was lost. Today we do not yet see all things put under man; instead we see the human race steeped in sin, sick and dying. But when the purpose of Christ’s return visit shall have been accomplished, then it will be true that all things have been put under man.

The work of restoring the race will be accomplished through the agencies of the messianic kingdom. Paul informs us that Christ will reign until all enemies are put under his feet, and that the last enemy to be destroyed is death. (I Cor. 15:26) First all things will be subdued under Christ, and we read that “when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God [the Creator] may be all in all.” (I Cor. 15:28) With this accomplished the position of man will revert to its original status, for the Creator will restore his dominion to him. Jesus speaks of this in his Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. To the “sheep” of this parable, those who during the thousand-year judgment day qualify for everlasting life, it will be said, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”—Matt. 25:34

What wonders of the universe restored man will then discover we do not know, but certainly it will always be true that “the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.”—Ps. 19:1

Dawn Bible Students Association
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