This past July, planetary scientists watched excitedly as massive chunks of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with the planet Jupiter. The tremendous explosions provided a fantastic display of power and energy, and the scientists busily gathered data to learn more about the distant planet.
Many of us may not even have been aware of this event. Even fewer of us get very excited about such events. But we must not forget that even these things are directed by God. We must remember too that God directs these things for the sake of Christ and His Church. The scientists get very excited about a comet smashing into a planet, and they can collect piles of data, but they are willingly ignorant of what God is saying and are therefore without excuse before God (Romans 1:20).
What Word of God did they willingly ignore? The collision of this comet with Jupiter is only one of the many ways in which God tells us that He has put us on a very small, delicate, and vulnerable planet. If you were to study comets and asteroids you might be inclined to compare the situation of earth to a sparrow flying through the cross-fire between the Confederate and Union soldiers at the battle of Bull Run. The earth is continually bombarded with dangerous radiation and rocks of various sizes. We are unaware of this, however, because the atmosphere absorbs the radiation, and burns up the pebbles, rocks, and sometimes boulders before they hit the ground. But the atmosphere would do little to stop a piece of comet like that which collided with Jupiter. In fact, only days after the fireworks on Jupiter, the earth was narrowly missed by a speeding boulder the size of a minivan. Russia still bears evidence of a large boulder which blasted through the atmosphere. It did not come straight down, but skimmed the countryside with a loud explosion that flattened acres of forest.
The scientists also inform us that the space in which earth orbits around the sun is extremely cold and harsh. We have all seen pictures of the astronauts with their thick protective suits. As earth orbits the sun, the earth is warmed ever so precisely and the temperature is carefully regulated by the atmosphere and oceans. The environmentalists are very aware of this delicate balance and warn that a change of a few degrees would melt the polar ice and raise the level of the oceans which would flood many coastal cities.
Earth is indeed very small in comparison to the vast expanse of the heavens. It orbits through a spray of rocks and chunks of comet, and its environment is very delicate. That is the way God made it, and God said after He had made it that it was very good. The child of God is, therefore, not alarmed by the findings of science. He knows that even the sparrow falls not without the will of God.
When the child of God looks out into the heavens, he sees the Creator as one Who is strong in power upholding all things with His fatherly care. It is God Who “stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in” (Isaiah 40:22b). “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth” (40:25-26).
When the child of God sees the greatness of God in the hosts of heaven, he is reminded of his own smallness. But instead of inventing theories to explain the universe, puffing himself up in pride, he recognizes the truth that he is indeed very small. A wise man acknowledges the truth and acts accordingly. He cries out to God with the psalmist: “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. … When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man”? But the psalmist does not stop with the infinite greatness of God and the smallness of man. He continues “that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:1-4). God is mindful of us on this little speck of a planet and He comes to visit us. The word translated “visit” also has the idea of “remember.” God thinks about us and continually remembers us. He will preserve His people until Christ comes again. Not one piece of comet will touch the earth apart from the will of God. Not one tear will roll down your cheek without God knowing.
God, in love, considers and continually remembers puny man on a planet which is nothing in comparison to the endless expanse of the universe. When we consider how little we think about God and how little we live out of love for Him, we wonder why God even thinks about us. By nature, we would rather ignore God. By nature, we are enemies of God and hate the way of righteousness. By nature, we are like the scientists who look out into the universe, learn how small and frail and insignificant earth is, and shake their tiny little fists in defiance at God. How foolish. How amazing is the great salvation of God for us!
The vastness of the universe is a picture of the greatness of our salvation. God told Abraham to look at that picture to impress upon him the great plan of our redemption in Christ (Genesis 15). When Abraham looked at the stars, he could not comprehend their number, neither could he comprehend the full extent of the promised salvation. When God directs our attention to the stars and we stand in awe and amazement at the number of the stars and the endless expanse of the universe, we must remember that they serve as a picture of the greatness of our salvation. When we watch helplessly as a comet crashes into a neighboring planet, we are made conscious of our smallness and frailty (Psalm 8), and God is showing to us His greatness and boundless grace (Isaiah 40).
We look forward to the return of Christ to this earth. When He comes, He will come in unspeakable glory. The present heavens and earth will have served their purpose as pictures of heavenly reality, so God will roll up the heavens like a scroll (Revelation 6:14), and will fold them up like a garment “and they shall be changed” (Hebrews 1:13). We will no longer be limited to this little planet in the middle of this grand and mysterious universe, but we will reign with Christ over all things (Hebrews 2:8-10; I Corinthians 15:25-28). Best of all, we will sin no more. All things will be in Christ, and God will have perfect praise.