Vol. 2, Issue 26
July 07, 2008
Starry, Starry Night
“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” (Psalm 147:4)
My buddy Roger called last week. He wanted to share a new software program with me; “Stellarium.” Stellarium is a star watching program. You tell it where you live and it takes you to a grassy meadow (supposedly right outside your door) and shows you the sky. If it’s daytime, you can even ‘turn off the lights’ and view the stars that daylight is hiding in the real sky. You can speed up time and watch the starry skies pass over head. You can rotate perspective to view the north, east, west or south skies. You can move to Australia and view the night sky from Adelaide or Sydney. You can even travel to the moon and watch the stars from a lunar landscape.
After dark I like to take a look at the screen, and then walk outside to see if I can find the real constellations in the real sky. It’s a pretty neat little program if you like to watch the stars and don’t know much about what you’re looking for. Best of all, it’s free. You can download Stellarium at http://www.stellarium.org/.
Ever wonder why we have such a fascination with the stars? I mean, it’s not like we don’t already have our hands full with stuff here on earth. There’s survival, getting to work on time, paying the mortgage, making sure the kids do their homework. And then there’s Disneyworld, the Grand Canyon and HBO. Why bother with the stars?
Who cares if Betelgeuse (yeah, there’s really a star named “Betelgeuse” and it’s really pronounced beetle-juice) is 427 million light years away from earth or that it’s so big that if you stuck it in the middle or our solar system its surface area would take up the sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and go a ways toward Jupiter.
Betelgeuse is a long ways away and big beyond our ability to comprehend; but who cares? Why should man be so hung up on the stars? Not only have we tried to count them and name them, we’ve connected the dots and turned them into constellations … and we’ve turn the constellation into picture stories - Orion, the hunter; the Pleiades, the seven sisters; Ursa, the bear. This fascination with the stars begs the question; “Is there something more to the stars than just far away pinpoints of light in the night sky?”
I started doing a little digging in my favorite book to see what He says about the stars. What I came up with surprised me. The word star (or stars) is mentioned 67 times in the English Standard Version Bible; it’s about the same in the KJV – 66, with a wildcard “stargazers” thrown in. That doesn’t count “heaven,” “heavenlies,” “celestial bodies,” or “sun.”
God created the universe and the universe has a lot of stars in it, so it’s not a shock that the Bible mentions them 67 times. Here’s the shocker: more than half of the “star” references in the Bible are directly associated with a persona. That is, more than half of the references refer to somebody, not something.
Isaiah 14:12 speaks of Satan: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!”
Job 38:7 mentions a time “when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Psalm 148:3 commands, “Praise him, sun and moon, praise him all you shining stars.”
Does scripture really relate heavenly bodies to heavenly bodies – personalities not of this world? Or is this just a poetic way of speaking that really doesn’t mean anything literally?
Let’s find out.
The book of Revelation describes a vision of the apostle John where he saw “someone, ‘like the son of man’” and “in his right hand he held seven stars ….” (Revelation 1:16) The one “like the son of man” tells John, “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches ….” (Revelation 1:20)
Revelation goes on to describe other heavenly bodies, personified stars, as it unfolds the final fate of man. “The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood.” (Revelation 8:10-11a)
“And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.” (Revelation 9:1)
Here’s my favorite: “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
Wow. Jesus refers to Himself as the “bright morning star.” Maybe there’s something more to the stars than just being faraway night-lights.
God mentioned the stars when He made a promise to Abraham. “He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’” (Genesis 15:5)
There are plenty of “star” mentions in the Bible referring to the Abraham’s “offspring.” God talking to Abraham: “I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven ….” (Genesis 22:17)
God talking to Isaac: “I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven ….” (Genesis 26:4).
Moses talking to the tribes of Israel: “The Lord your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heaven.” (Deuteronomy 1:10)
The writer of Hebrews talking to early Jewish Christians: “Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven ….” (Hebrews 11:12)
There’s more, but you get the picture. The Bible makes the connection between stars and heavenly beings – angels (fallen and not fallen) and Jesus himself. And the Bible makes the connection between stars and the number of Abraham’s descendents. Any more connections we can make?
Well … there’s the connection that “… if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:29) Okay. So that means you and I, if we belong to Christ, are considered Abraham’s offspring and we share in the inheritance God promised to Abraham.
And … there’s the connection that “… in the resurrection they (we) neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” (Matthew 22:30) And what kind of bodies can we expect to have then? According to Paul, “There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.” (I Corinthians 15:40-41)
Before we get any deeper into this connecting the dots business, let’s get a grip on what I’m saying. Am I saying that angels and even Jesus Christ are really stars and stars are them and someday we’ll be stars too? Nope. That’s a bit of a stretch.
What I’m saying is this: In the Bible there’s a connection between stars and heavenly beings. Whether it’s a physical or allegorical or spiritual connection, it’s definitely a connection. And if you want to accept God’s Word as true then you can’t ignore that the connection exists.
There’s also a connection between us and the promise God made to Abraham and that promise is counted in the stars.
There’s also a connection between what kind of bodies we will have in the resurrection and the kind of bodies heavenly beings have now.
So what’s my point?
You know how I keep talking about how your purpose and my purpose are woven together into a great tapestry that, as a whole, reflects God’s purpose? Well, even the stars are a part of that tapestry. How many, where they’re placed, the constellations, their relation to the angels of heaven - all of it is according to purpose. And being a part of His purpose, we share in it.
Like the story of our lives and our purpose, the stars tell a story. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)
The story they tell? We’ll get into that next week.
Until then I’ll leave you with the story of another friend of mine. His name is John. And like the John of Revelation, he had an experience of being ‘transported’ in the Spirit beyond this grassy meadow we call earth. According to my friend John, God took him above and beyond this earth, whether in reality, in the Spirit, or in his mind’s eye, I don’t know and he can’t say; but he knows he went and he knows what he saw. God showed him the earth and the planets and the stars – the whole vastness of the universe. You know what God told my friend John? “Do you see this?” “I am not in this universe; it is in Me.”
If what John said God told him is true - that God is so vast the entire universe exists in Him, what could possibly compare with that immensity and power?
Another thing I talk a lot about is perspective. What’s big in your world? What keeps you up at night? Worried about your job? Sweating this month’s house payment? Upset over the tiff you and your spouse had this morning? Worried that your kid isn’t going to make the grade in school?
Step back and look at the stars. Remember Who has a plan for your life. Remember Whose tapestry your future is woven into. If you have a problem too big to handle, put it into His hands; it’s a lot smaller from there.