We are reminded so many times in Scripture of how vast the heavens are and how big our God is for creating such a universe. Isaiah 40 reminds us that the God who created all cares for us. He knows we get discouraged and weak, and He gives us strength to carry on. We will likely never explore every single part of the galaxy. The more we learn about the universe, the more we should appreciate our Creator. With the vastness of the universe and our lack of understanding of it, people have been trying to make sense of how everything was formed. We are now trying to prove that there are other life forms. It’s another way to put our hope in something that will leave us hopeless. We know from Scripture that God created the heavens and the earth. He created mankind to live on the earth and no other planet. All of this points to the love that our Heavenly Father has for us.
God’s Spirit through David the Psalmist told us to look up into the night sky and take a good look at the stars and planets in the universe and marvel at the glory of our Creator God.
Have you been looking around lately? Have you looked up lately? The stars are intended to tutor us on the greatness of God.
We ended here in our last study together and I want to bring it up again and rehearse the fact that the vastness of God’s glory is seen in the vastness of the universe, but the vastness of the universe reveals the vastness of our future reign as sons and daughters – co-regents – with Christ.
One of the most stunning revelations of your future and mine as believers is where John says that the Lord God will shine upon the redeemed and they will reign forever . . . not simply that He will reign forever, but John specifically writes, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
If you think it’s a stretch that God created the heavens and the earth in 6 days and Adam and Eve as well, recorded in Genesis 1 & 2, – imagine the recreation of the heavens and the earth and the eternal reign of the redeemed in Revelation 21 and 22? We shall reign with Him forever and ever.
Even without the aid of a telescope and what we now know about the vastness of the universe, King David was still swept away in awe and wonder – not only with a sense of awe at God’s greatness, but with his own sense of smallness.
He writes, O Lord, when I consider Your heavens and the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which You ordained – (literally, which You set in motion) . . . what is man that You take thought of him?
I have read how President Teddy Roosevelt would often to take guests that visited the White House out on the White House lawn after dark to look up at the stars. Sometimes he’d even lie down on the grass and invite his guests to do the same. Then after a little while he’d get up, brush himself off and say, “Well, I believe we are now small enough now, let’s retire for the evening.” But smallness isn’t the same thing as meaninglessness or insignificance!
Here we are in this vast galaxy – a speck too small to see in the mapping of the universe.
With our technological advancements, we’ve only become that much smaller. We’re in this one galaxy called the Milky Way and we’re a little dot in one of the mid-to-outer spiral arms of the galaxy.
And now we know that there are not only billions of stars and planets in our Milky Way galaxy, but there are billions galaxies out there.
Instead of being led to despair, David writes of the amazing grace of God in not only ordaining the universe, but loving and cherishing and prizing and redeeming and one day glorifying and robing and perfecting those who join David in saying as he arrives at the end of his Psalm and writes, “O Lord, our Lord – my Lord – how majestic is Your name in all the earth.”
In our last study together, we took a brief tour of some of the planets and stars nearest us in our last study – we discovered something of how small we are. If you wanted to fly around earth in an airplane it would take 2 days; to fly around Jupiter would take you 20 days; to fly around the sun would take you 200 days, but to fly around a nearby star called Antares – that would take you right at 500 years. Not days . . . but years.
But again, in light of the staggering number of stars and planets, and their size, God intends to infuse us with joy and strength in life.
Isaiah makes this clear in Isaiah chapter 40;
Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars; the One who leads for the their host by number, He calls them all by name . . . those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.
Isaiah 40:26 & 31
In other words, the Creator God of the Universe not only happens to know your name too – He knows that you get tired and weary and discouraged and need His strength to carry on.
The Creator God cares about you, personally.
That was the point of Isaiah’s promise and David’s singing. David sang – I look at the universe and I can hardly imagine that You – the Creator God – actually thinks about me and has time for me. That’s a staggering application of God’s personal investment and involvement in your life.
Listen, if the president of the United States called your cell phone this afternoon and said, “I had 30 minutes on my calendar and I just wanted to find out how you’re doing.”
The President of the United States was thinking about you! And then as soon as he hung up, you got a call from Queen Elizabeth in London and she said, “I just wanted to call you straightaway” . . . or whatever queens say when they talk on the phone.
Look, you’d spend the first 15 minutes trying to find out who’s trying to pull a prank on you by impersonating them.
And then when you were finally convinced it was them, you’d spend the next 15 minutes trying to find out why they would want to talk to you?”
And then after they hung up – I called you. You saw my name on your phone ID and you still answered it. And I said, “Look I’ve got 30 minutes and just wanted to talk to you.” You’d probably say, “Can we do it in 15?”
You see, our amazement at having someone’s attention is proportionate to the significance of the person who’s paying us attention.
That’s David’s point – You, God – the Creator of the universe . . . of all that is . . . You have time for me?
But if the universe was created for that alone, wouldn’t it be safe to say that God created more than was necessary. I mean, billions of galaxies in the universe; if it was all created just for you and me, didn’t God overdo it?
Remember, the Bible informs us that the universe was created, not just to reassure you and me of God’s care, but to display the vast and eternal glory of God. And since that’s the case, the universe will never be big enough.
The universe declares the glory of God – Psalm 19:1
And that’s one of the reasons, the more we discover and the further out we see through all sorts of technological advancements – the universe is still large than ever and we can’t seem to get to the end of it. And that’s because the glory of God is to be understood as immeasurable. So the larger our universe becomes to us, the greater our God becomes to us.
But some would argue, in fact, millions of people now believe that since the universe is so large, surely there must be aliens and extraterrestrial species out there – there’s got to be Klingons and Vulcans out there somewhere!
When I began this series, I didn’t imagine I’d cover this issue, but the more I’ve gotten involved in it, I’ve realized that we need to address it.
The Kepler telescope was launched into outer space in 2009 with that very mission – to monitor 150,000 stars for evidence of orbiting planets and the possibility of other life forms.
By the way, the Kepler telescope received its last commands from NASA – just a few weeks ago – it has finally run out of fuel and its mission is over – a decade of exploration taking it some 90 million miles into space. And none of the planets were observed to have the uniqueness of Earth for life support.
But maybe we haven’t looked far enough . . . Kepler barely scratched the surface!
Are there extra-terrestrials (ET’s) – are there ET’s and other various life forms out there? Are there Klingons out there somewhere?
This happens to be one of the growing convictions of our generation. There are major programs like SETI – the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence – that is, at this very moment, scanning the heavens with powerful radio telescopes, listening for signals from intelligent alien worlds.
Well let me say, for starters, that the idea of ET’s comes largely from a belief in evolution.
In other words;
• if you disregard the creation account of Genesis 1 and planet earth is just another planet, created from explosion along with the rest of the universe;
• and planet earth just so happened to accidentally contain features that just so happened to create a mud puddle of goop;
• and that puddle somehow initiated the development of atoms into complex cells into complex creatures;
• then surely there’s another planet in all the trillions of planets out there that has that same puddle of goop too.
I mean, the odds seem reasonable to me. And maybe they got started evolving earlier than we did and now they’re driving around in really cool spaceships and we’re still driving around in pickup trucks.
All of that is actually possible when you disregard the record of scripture. We’re told in Genesis 1 that God created the heavens – the universe and – note the focus – and the earth (Genesis 1:1)
God clearly tells us in Isaiah that the earth was uniquely designed for life forms – not the universe. Isaiah writes, For thus says the Lord who created the universe; He is the God who formed the earth and made it; He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited.
In other words, the God who created the universe – billions of stars and planets and galaxies – and they were created, in distinction to planet earth, as waste places – that is, they are uninhabitable – but the earth was created uniquely to be inhabited. God says here – I formed earth to be inhabited.
Beyond that text, you have serious theological ramifications with some race of people or sentient creatures on some planet somewhere.
The Bible tells us that the fall of Adam cursed, not just the human race, not just planet earth, but all of creation. Everything God created is fallen and longing for redemption; Paul writes to the Romans 8. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers . . .
And how does redemption take place in all of God’s creation? God became a member of the human race and dies as a human man in order to raise up a redeemed race of human beings who’ve repented of their sin and believed the gospel.
In other words, of all the planets in the universe, it is the earth that God Himself visits, taking on the nature of the human race and redeeming forever those who will trust in Him.
With this growing fascination in the reality of other worlds and alien races . . . not only are there gospel issues and a total disregard of the Creation account along with the Prophet Isaiah’s clear testimony, but let me make two very practical observation relative to ET’s.i
Let me just spell it out – you might not like this, but here’s the heart of it – let me give you a couple of observations.
First, the possibility of life on other planets is a thinly-veiled hope that mankind can avoid a Creator God.
Listen, if the Bible doesn’t know anything about alien creatures living on other planets – and it doesn’t; and the Bible says that only earth was created to be inhabited – but Klingons are actually out there after all, then the Bible is immediately prejudiced to humans and immediately out of date and it belongs in the attic collecting dust.
If Spock really has a home planet out there and it isn’t science fiction, then the Biblical statements about God’s unique creation of planet earth for inhabited life are proven false . . . which means – and here’s the hope of an unbelieving world – whatever the Bible says about anything else – including a coming judgment – is probably not true either.
If God isn’t the only thing out there, but a lot of other things are out there too, we don’t really have to worry about Him, after all. And you certainly don’t have to worry about a verse in the Bible like Hebrews 9:27 – It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment.
The possibility of life on other planets is a thinly-veiled hope that mankind can avoid the truth of scripture and a Creator God.
Secondly, mankind’s passionate pursuit for alien life has become a replacement for passionately pursuing God.
The search for aliens replaces God in a number of hopeful ways. First; the average person feels a sense of cosmic loneliness when he considers the size of the universe. As one scientist famously asked, “Where is everybody?” As big as the universe is, why can’t we find somebody else out there?”
The Bible informs us that God created us for fellowship with Him. We’re not alone in the universe and one day we’ll be with Him and the universe will be our playground.
Secondly, aliens are pursued for what they might teach us about the mysteries of the universe. In other words, they might answer the questions, “Why are we here . . . and how did we get here?”
Maybe they’ll answer the question of origins.
For the believer, that question is repeatedly answered in the Bible. God is our Creator. God is the one who revealed our questions of purpose and identity as we passionately pursue Him through His word.
Then again, aliens might have advanced medical knowledge and they know the secrets to life and death. In other words, maybe they’ve figured out how to live longer – or perhaps not even die, much less get sick.
Again, the Bible tells us that God will one day heal all our diseases and we shall live forever in newly glorified, eternal, perfected bodies that never give out or wear out.
The average person in our generation, if given a choice, would really rather have an alien race supply all of these promises and solutions, than God.
Richard Dawkins, a leading evolutionist, was on a forum some time ago where the evidence of a designed universe and world was presented . . . at the end, he conceded that there was obvious design that demanded a designer and he then famously suggested that it was the work of aliens.
Which means alienologism (if I can coin a word) – alienologism is becoming – in essence – one of the fastest growing religions on the planet.
And let me tell you, aliens and Darwinism and even theistic evolutionism can coexist – even though theistic evolutionism – that God started it all and everything evolved from there – is worse yet because it attempts to synchronize scripture with evolution and completely obliterates the clear, plain meaning of scripture.
But still, people ask an excellent question – if the earth is as young as the Biblical genealogies and texts of scripture point to, which places creation at about 6,000 years ago, why does the earth look millions of years older?
Why does everything look like it’s been around a long time? I mean, just look at the Grand Canyon.
It would take millions of years, according to the scientific geological community, for the Colorado River to carve out that Canyon. But that conclusion is based on uniformitarianism.
Evolution and uniformitarianism are cousins, in their world view.
They agree that whatever you see happening in natural processes today, were doing the same thing since the beginning of time.
Uniformitarianism means – and you’re going to need to know this for the final exam: it means, whatever’s happening, has always happened that way. And that’s normally true . . . unless . . . something happens that doesn’t normally happen and it creates the same results as time.
Let me give you a simple illustration. Our buildings around here are designed after Colonial building styles dating back to Williamsburg days. Hence the name, Colonial Baptist Church.
Our brick buildings look much older than they actually are. Our student Center and Children’s center were the last buildings we built. And if you get close enough to look, each brick is different. And that’s one of the things that makes a brick building look old.
You can get that same look over time through erosion – wind and rain and sleet and expansion wear the edges of the brick away and it creates a rough look. The mortar in between the brick wears away as well through wind and rain. And that gives the brick an aged, heritage, Williamsburg kind of appearance.
However, you can get the same look by putting bricks into a big tumbler and turning the crank so that the bricks tumble around inside like a load of laundry in your dryer at home.
Each brick comes out different – chipped and nicked and scarred here and there. And the brick masons also wear a little ring on their finger that they use to scrape along the mortar between the bricks and it a squiggly line called grapevine mortar – which mirrors erosion on the mortar.
So you can get that old brick look over the course of 150 years of wind and rain and freezing weather and hot sun – or you can tumble the bricks in a big tumbler for 20 minutes and get the same effect, even though our student center was built only 10 years ago.
The Bible describes something that happened that changed the look of planet earth to this day.
We usually refer to the event as Noah and the ark.
Moses records in Genesis 7 what happened after 120 years of warning from Noah while he built the ark.
11. The water of the flood came upon the earth . . . the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. 12. The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights . . . 17. And the flood was upon the earth for forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth. 18. The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19. The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. 20. The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher and the mountains were covered (cubit = 18 inches x 15 = 22 feet). 21. All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind of all that was on the dry land . . . thus God blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land.
Genesis 7:11-12; 17-23
Now the global flood isn’t my main objective here, but let me point out – because there are plenty of Christians who deny a universal flood – they just dismiss the idea out of hand – and it matters, by the way . . . I’ll show you where.
But for now, let me point out a few observations:
First of all, The wording of Genesis 6-9 is the clearest language possible to describe a universal flood.
Just as He did in Genesis chapter 1, God couldn’t communicate with any other precise language any other way of telling us creation took 6 days and He couldn’t communicate a global flood any clearer than in this manner.
All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind of all that was on the dry land . . . thus God blotted out every living thing
All, all, all . . . let me give you the literal meaning of the Hebrew word here translated “all” – it literally means, all.
Here’s another observation:
If the flood was local, animals could have migrated and Noah could have saved 120 years of ship building.
And people could have migrated too . . .
According to Genesis 8:9,
Even 4 months after the rain stopped, the dove couldn’t find dry land on which to light.
It doesn’t take 120 days for local flood waters to drain away into nearby rivers and lakes. But for this dove, there wasn’t any dry land in sight.
Again, it was more than an entire year before enough land was exposed to permit Noah’s family to leave the ark.
All of these features indicate something far greater in scope than a flood where Noah lived.
But here’s where it really gets serious to us who believe the gospel and the integrity of Jesus Christ:
If the flood didn’t affect the entire human race, then Jesus Christ got it wrong.
In his preaching on the second coming, Jesus uses the universal impact of the flood as a picture of the universal impact of His second coming – in other words it’s going to effect the entire human race. He warned with this;
For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah . . . the flood came and took them all away.
And since Jesus got it wrong, it’s little surprise that the Apostle Peter got it wrong too. He warned of a coming universal judgment like unto the universal flood.
Peter writes about the past global flood in 2 Peter where he says, The world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment.
2 Peter 3:6-7
This isn’t a regional fire or a local firestorm. Peter goes on to tell us that the heavens will pass away with a roar and the earth will be burned up.
Still, If the flood wasn’t global, God the Father actually becomes a liar.
Why? Because God promised that the flood would never happen again. And He gave the rainbow in the sky as a covenant promise that it would never flood again. Well, if the flood of Noah was a local or regional flood, then God broke His promise to people in North Carolina and Florida and Japan and Argentina and Turkey and Indonesia and Saudi Arabia just this year with rainfall that caused flooding which caused billions of dollars of damage and took the lives of scores of people. That rainbow in the sky isn’t much of a promise after all.
There was a universal flood that tumbled the earth in such a way and with such ferocious wind and waves and sediment and timber and rock and volcanic eruption that literally scarred and defaced and reshaped the earth into looking millions of years old.
And just as the flood came long ago, there is another judgment coming in the days ahead. Safety during the flood was found in only one place – the ark.
Safety in the judgment to come is found in only one person – the Lord Jesus Christ.
i Above quotes and principles adapted and/or quoted from Jason Lisle, Taking Back Astronomy (Master Books, 2006), pp. 91-98