How Great Thou Art!

SEVERAL YEARS AGO the people of the USA, in particular, and the world in general, became aware of the name, Hubble—a name given to the orbiting telescope placed in space. It was named after Edwin P. Hubble, an astronomer of the 1920’s who established at that time that a multitude of separate galaxies comprised the universe, their number now, by the latest scanning techniques, exceeding his dreams.

The Hubble telescope was placed into orbit around the earth several years ago on one of NASA’s missions. At the outset it had a flaw in a reflector which had to be replaced by later space missions, and after still other corrections were made the telescope started to send meaningful pictures of images to earth. The Hubble’s wide-field camera took pictures, one after another from December 18-29, 1995, of a sector of the sky near the handle of the Big Dipper, part of the Constellation Ursa Major. This was a region relatively uncluttered by foreground stars or nearby galaxies. Yet it was considered representative of the typical distribution of galaxies because the universe, statistically, looks largely the same in all directions.

These pictures have been analyzed by astronomers, and at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in San Antonio, Texas, in January of this year they made an exciting, glittering mosaic of the pictures. The pictures reveal a bewildering number and variety of galaxies stretching back toward the beginning of time. One thing was stunningly clear with this achievement. The estimated number of galaxies in the universe had multiplied enormously—to 50 billion—five times as many as previously estimated. Our sun is one of 50 billion to 100 billion stars in the Milky Way, generally considered to be an ordinary galaxy.

Dr. Robert E. Williams, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore said, “You can see a myriad of galaxies. There are large ones and small ones, red ones and blue ones, very structured ones, and also very amorphous ones. Most of these were never seen before Hubble. But we don’t know the significance of all this yet.”


To believers, which include many scientists, the design and immensity of God’s Creation as seen in the heavens is a great stimulus to faith. The psalmist, David, wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.” (Ps. 19:1) As mentioned, the galaxy of which our sun is a part is estimated to contain 50 to 100 billion stars, and now it is believed there are innumerable billions of such galaxies. Since it is estimated that we can see only 3,000 stars with the naked eye, this is the number of stars that scientists believe were visible in Christ’s time. But the earlier testimony of the Bible was nearer the truth: “The host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured.”—Jer. 33:22

It is impossible for us to grasp the idea of millions and billions. A simple illustration has been used to convey the thought of a billion. Should we pile a billion one-dollar bills on top of each other, and press them well together, the stack would reach sixty-four miles high into the air. We measure heavenly space by light years. A light year is the distance light will travel in a year, at the speed of 186,000 miles per second! Through radio astronomy, scientists know that there are galaxies 20 to 30 billion light years away. Even with the dollar-bill illustration, this is beyond our comprehension.

Our nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is only four light years away. A capsule traveling 17,500 miles an hour would require 153,000 years to reach this star. A radio signal will travel around the earth in a fraction of a second, but it required more than eight minutes for similar signals to reach the earth from Mariner IV when it was in the vicinity of the planet Mars, which is said to be 135 million miles from the earth.


By controlled nuclear fusion, scientists today are able to destroy all life on the earth; and they are able also to use this power in almost unlimited ways for the good of man. The sun is a seething mass of nuclear fusion which is controlled in a remarkable manner. Our orbit around it is, in speed and distance away, just right to make possible life on the earth as we know it. The earth’s speed of rotation is approximately 1,000 miles per hour. If it were only 100 miles per hour, our days and nights would be ten times as long, and the heat of the sun would preclude the growing of vegetation, and the long nights would produce temperatures unendurably cold.

It is the Creator’s design in the controlled nuclear energy of the sun that makes the earth such a wonderful place on which to live. Without its all-pervading power all the amazing things which many attribute to nature could not exist. Every ocean, sea, and river would be frozen solid; even the air itself would fall over them as a shroud of solid matter.

This would mean that not only human life, but no life could be brought into being. There would be no clouds and no rain would fall, and no river could flow. There could be no radio, no television, and no telegraph could function. There could be no lightning, nor could fire be kindled. Nor could the other heavenly bodies be seen, were it not that in their orbiting they intercept and reflect the light of our wonderful sun, the greatest of all examples of controlled nuclear energy.


Think of the marvelous design of the Creator in connection with man’s home, Earth. Three thousand years ago Job said that God “hangeth the earth upon nothing.” (Isa. 40:22) Isaiah spoke of the “circle of the earth.” (vs. 24) Our earth is an orb approximately 8,000 miles in diameter, and is twisting and turning upon its axis like a spinning gyroscopic top. Because of God’s design of gravitation’s unfelt but inflexible pull, birds, airplanes, automobiles, and men can safely travel on and above its surface. It is gravitation that also keeps our earth in its proper relationship to the rest of the universe, and this is done in absolute silence, and without friction, without strain, without jar or shock, yet the earth is projected through space at unbelievable speeds.

Isaiah 40:22 informs us that God “sitteth upon the circle of the earth” and “stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.” During our space age we have become especially aware of the ‘tent’ about our earth in which man dwells. In our day man has been thrust by rocket to the edge of our ‘tent’, and beyond, and now we know that it is possible to escape the gravitational pull of the earth.

When our astronauts circle the earth in the outer fringe of atmosphere, great preparation must be made to supply a proper environment for them. Space suits are designed to provide pressure and warmth, in addition to the space ship itself, with its oxygen supply, heat shield, and lights. Compare man’s tiny space ship with the earth twisting through space with a rotational speed of 1,000 miles an hour, and at the same time circling the sun at about 66,000 miles an hour.

As we travel with the earth on this twisting, turning trip, we are unmindful of the motions, and the ‘tent’ of atmosphere provides our needed outside pressure. It also provides warmth and light through the reproduction of sunlight. It also becomes our heat shield, and devours possibly harmful meteors from outer space.


The earth’s circulatory system of moisture, so much taken for granted, is a source of wonder. Through God’s design, and beyond our comprehension, the sun draws water from the oceans of our earth, and the clouds thus formed flow generally noiselessly through the sky to the land masses. Winds to propel these clouds are formed by the earth’s rotational movement. Also, breezes and winds develop because of the difference in heat retention, and reflection of the earth and sea. The precious cargo of the clouds is dropped on the mountains and plains, and after watering the gardens of man, reaches the rivers to search out the sea again, and hence continue the life-giving cycle.

In these ways the Lord, in his abundant mercy, supplies his creatures with ‘meat’ in due season. Without this watering system, God’s provision for his living creatures here on earth would come to naught. God said, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.” (Gen. 1:29,30) How could one logically believe that the tree, bush, grain, flower, grass, moss, and plant life which live by the nutriment of soil and water, and reproduce in kind, are not the skillful design of an all-wise Creator?


The lower animals and birds give evidence of a Creator who designed within them certain instincts, without which they would perish. The squirrel hoards its food for the winter. The lowly bat uses sound waves to fly its tortuous route in the caverns of darkness. Flocks of geese and other birds fly south when the long shadows of winter approach, and in the spring return unerringly to the place from which they started. The homing pigeon, cooped up, and taken far from home, when released, rises into the sky and in a short time streaks, by instinct, to the place from which it came. Salmon and other fish spawned in rivers far inland, make their way to the oceans, and when sufficiently mature to reproduce, find their way back to the exact locations from which they originally came.


We could properly speak of man as God’s masterpiece among the creatures of earth. He was created “in the image of God” (Gen. 1:27), not needing to be guided by instinct, but able to reason, and to plan. It has been suggested that instinct is like a single note, but the human brain with its ability to reason contains all the notes of all the instruments in an orchestra.

Man is the one earthly being that can plan for centuries. He can fashion from the stores of earth’s materials and minerals complex skyscrapers. He can soar on wings of his own making, higher and faster than any bird. With ease he can traverse sea and land. With his specially designed intellect and powers of reasoning he can ‘see’ deeper than any microscope, and farther than any telescope. He can compute the miles to the moon, sun, and stars. He can measure the heat of the sun, the cold of the moon. He can search out and record the elements which make up our earth, sun, and stars.

In man’s design we can observe special provisions by God for his enjoyment. Man—as virtually all the lower animals—has been designed with senses which enable him to move about, forage, and plant seed for food, and protect himself. These we speak of as the five senses—taste, touch, sight smell, and hearing. While most lower animals possess these senses, because of man’s better brain which enables him to reason and to store information, the stimuli received through his five senses are much more meaningful.

And in the design of man’s senses, and his great brain capacity, we see a very loving provision of the Creator. In addition to his senses providing necessary contact with the world about him, God has provided man with some ‘plus values’ which contribute immeasurably to his joy. When the cattle graze in the meadow, it appears to be an almost mechanical procedure, with the beasts unmindful of the beauty with which they are surrounded. We are told that animals are color blind. Dissection of their eyes does not reveal the chemical reaction necessary to perceive the wide diffusion of color.

We stand in the meadow, reacting to the beauty surrounding us in the sweep of the greenery, and the symmetry of the trees on the brow of the hill. We see the cloud-flecked sky, and at the close of day thrill to the beauty of the clouds when the setting sun for a time gives to them its colorful glory. We cannot understand why we react to the beauty of field and flower, hill and sky, except to realize it is from God. He designed our eyes to see and enjoy the tint and tone of color which he has so lavishly splashed in vivid hues all about us. In this we see God’s tender love for man.

And so, too, with the sense of hearing. In man there are built the faculties that respond to many sounds which bring special joy. There is the rhythmic lap of the ocean’s waves, and the sigh of the zephyrs in the trees overhead. There is the happy sound of laughter. There are the sweet notes of the violin and other instruments, and the melody of voices blended in “The Hallelujah Chorus.” There is the joyous sound of the babbling brook, and of the myriad of sweet-singing birds. There is almost no end to the happy sounds which bring joy to our hearts because the Creator has given us the sense of hearing, and an appreciation of the marvels of his creation.

The psalmist wrote of God, “Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” (Ps. 145:16) And with man, how marvelous has been this provision. The food for cattle consists largely of the grass of the field. But for man the viands provided by the Creator are innumerable, having a wide range of taste, and prepared so delectably. A hostess presents food tastefully prepared and beautifully arranged. Think of some of God’s tasty and beautiful preparations: the sweet orange, the deep-hued, tangy plum; the crisp, red apple; the grape, the peach, the pear.

And so with our other senses. How grand to feel the gentle breeze, the warmth of the sun, and the glowing, friendly hearth! We smell the fragrance of the rose, as well as see its beauty. In the realms of feeling and smell, we are daily provided with joys which should be telling us over and over again of the generosity and love of our Creator.


Nature is wonderful, but it is only as we come to understand the loving plan of nature’s God for the eternal happiness of his human creatures that we can know why so many things have apparently gotten out of hand, with the result that we are surrounded with so much that is evil, so much that contributes to human unhappiness. While, through our five senses we are made conscious of the Creator’s tremendous abilities, and of his love for his human creation, those same five senses bring us overtones of evil, of pain, of decay, of strife. While our hearts thrill by appreciating the blessings with which we are surrounded, our eyes are filled with tears as we observe the travail of the suffering world, and sense that the seeds of death are working in our own bodies.

Why is this? The Bible alone answers—revealing that man, whom God created in his own image, transgressed his Creator’s law, and brought upon himself and his progeny the condemnation of sin and death. While God continues to love his human creatures, he withdrew from them his life-giving favor, and, like a plant deprived of the sunlight, the human race is withering and dying. This has resulted in the world being filled with suffering and death. The Bible reveals, however, that this condition will not continue forever. The psalmist wrote that God’s “anger endureth but a moment,” and adds, “In his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night [Margin, ‘in the evening’], but joy [Margin, Heb., ‘singing’] cometh in the morning.”—Ps. 30:5

The Marginal Translation, ‘Weeping may endure in the evening,” is revealing. The epochs of Creation are referred to in Genesis, chapter 1, as “days,” and the expression is used concerning each of these, “The evening and the morning …” The Jewish calendar follows this same format, so that the day begins after sundown (or about 6:00 p.m.) and the evening and morning make a day. Man was created in the ‘morning’ of the sixth day. (Exod. 20:11) Then he transgressed divine law, and in the ‘evening’, or obscure beginning of the seventh day, or epoch of time, began to die. It will be in the morning period of the seventh day that joy and life will be restored to man. That will be the thousand-year period of the reign of Christ and his church.

Moses, in Psalm 90:3-7, confirms this. We read, “Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” (vss. 3,4) Then, presenting symbolically the idea of destruction—the sentence of death—Moses continues: “Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning [of the sixth Creative day] they are like grass which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening [of the seventh day] it is cut down, and withereth. For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.”—vss. 5-7

But what joy it will be for the human race in the ‘morning’ of the seventh ‘day’ when the Lord says, “Return [from death], ye children of men.” (Ps. 90:3) This bright hope expressed in beautiful, figurative language is plainly stated by Paul in his well-known promise of the resurrection, when he wrote: “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (I Cor. 15:21,22) The world of mankind is to be made alive through Christ because he took the sinner’s place in death, and became the Redeemer and Savior of the world.

Thus seen, God’s great plan for man did not get out of hand in the sense that he was taken by surprise and could not control the situation. It is simply that in his wisdom he permitted evil to reign for awhile, in order that man might ultimately learn that the only true way to lasting peace, happiness, and life is through obedience to the laws of his Creator. With that lesson learned, there will be no more sorrow, no more pain, no more death. (Rev. 21:4) Then the glory of God will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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