My jaw dropped.
When my son Jonathan was in high school he had a pretty decent telescope. One summer night he called me to come and look at something in it. When I looked into the telescope, to my astonishment there was Saturn. A perfectly clear white ball with white rings encircling it. My jaw dropped. I was stunned. I wasn’t looking at a picture of Saturn – I was looking at Saturn itself hanging there in the firmament.
Here are a few facts about Saturn:
- Saturn’s equatorial diameter is 74,130 miles. Earth’s is 7,926 miles.
- It takes 29.5 Earth years for Saturn to revolve around the Sun one time.
- Saturn’s mass is 95.2 times that of Earth, yet it rotates on its axis approximately every 10 hours and 15 minutes – it’s spinning more than twice as fast as we are.
- Saturn’s minimum distance from Earth is 746 million miles – that means Saturn is more than 7 times further away from us than the sun (the Sun is a mere 91 million miles from the earth).
- The average surface temperature is -300F. Think about this next time you have to start the car on a frigid morning – you could be on Saturn.
–750 Earths could fit inside a hollowed-out Saturn – that’s right – 750, and 1600 Saturns could fit into the Sun.
- The rings of Saturn are composed of particles of ice but may include ice-covered rock particles. The size of the particles ranges from the width of a paper clip to a yard to some possibly 6 city blocks long.
I was gazing across 750 million miles of space at a ball that would hold 750 earths, surrounded by perfect rings composed of ice chunks.
So does Saturn (and the whole universe) tell us about God?
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. RO 1.19-20
The universe tells us that there is a God
There is a being with a “divine nature” (19). Saturn didn’t just happen. It may be hard for some to believe there is a God, but when you look at this beautiful, amazing universe – even if you simply look at this world – it is far easier to believe there is a God than to believe that all this beauty and majesty just one day spontaneously burst out of nothing.
The universe tells us that God has eternal power
The universe tells us that this divine being, God, has “eternal power.” This God is so powerful that he can create hundreds of billions of galaxies made of hundreds of billions of stars and hold them all together. He can create oceans and deserts and giant sequoias and centipedes and kangaroos and volcanoes. Just looking at this world alone, we can see there is a God and he is powerful.
Romans 1 says that God has made it plain to all human beings that he exists through the universe, so plain that they are without excuse for denying his existence and power.
There are things the universe cannot tell us about God
I once heard someone say, “I don’t need the Bible or to go to church to find out about God; I can experience God by going into the woods and contemplating the beauty and majesty of the trees and nature.”
When I go into the woods, I too see something of God’s glory. As the seraphim cried to each other in Isaiah 6:3
And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
The whole earth is full of God’s glory. It reflects the glory of God. The creativity of God. If this world is so beautiful, how beautiful must its creator be. As much as a forest may tell us of God’s glory, there is so much it does not tell us about God. We can only learn these things about God from the Bible, God’s revelation to us of who he is and what he has done for us.
5 things the universe cannot tell us about God
God is sovereign
The Bible tells us that God is sovereign over all he has made. He is in control of every molecule of the universe, and he directs all things and all history from beginning to end. Nothing happens outside of his sovereign plan. He knows the beginning from the end. Nothing can happen unless he allows it. He is sovereign over every nation.
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. PS 115.3
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. JOB 42.2
Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ IS 46.9-10
God is holy
He is infinitely pure and righteous and majestic and glorious. There is nothing evil in him. His holiness is so awesome that the highest created beings cannot look upon him. He will tolerate no sin or evil in his presence. Because he is holy he will punish sin. He never does anything wrong or sinful. We cannot know that God is holy by looking at the trees in a forest or the Grand Canyon.
And one (seraphim) called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” IS 6.3
“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? EX 15.11
God is good
Multitudes of things in this world and the universe declare God’s goodness – abundant crops of food, beautiful sunny days, innumerable pleasures. But what about hurricanes and droughts and disease? When God initially created the world it was all good and reflected his goodness. But sin has entered the world, bringing disease and death and all kinds of evil. So simply by looking at the world, we can’t know if God is good or not. But his word declares to us that he is:
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! PS 34.8
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! PS 31.19
We can only know for sure that God is good from his Word. When we are going through hard times, we don’t look to nature to assure ourselves that God is good to us, but to his word.
God is loving, merciful and kind
A beautiful day at the beach may say God is loving, but what about a tsunami, or a shark that attacks someone? Is God good when someone drowns in a riptide? The only way we know for certain that God is loving is because the Bible reveals that. Saturn can’t reveal that God is merciful. It declares that God is amazing and powerful, but it doesn’t tell me that he wants to show me mercy when I sin. We need God’s word to know that the Creator of the universe is loving:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. RO 5.8
The only way we can be sure that God loves us is because he revealed his love by sending Jesus Christ his Son to die for us to bring us to God.
The good news of Jesus Christ
As beautiful as the Grand Canyon or the Rockies may be, they can’t tell us how to be saved from our sins. They can’t tell us the good news of the gospel, that though we had all rebelled against God and deserved eternal hell, God loved us so much that he sent Jesus, God the Son, to become a man, live a sinless life of perfect obedience to his Father, then was crucified in our place and on the cross, and endured the holy wrath of God to pay for our sins, was buried, then rose from the dead! And when we believe in Jesus Christ and all he did for us and call upon him to save us, he forgives our sins and God gives us eternal life! We can’t know that by looking at a red-tailed hawk, as awesome as that may be.
If you have never read the Bible, start by reading the gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Ask God to reveal himself to you and speak to you through his word.
I would suggest reading every day, even if it’s just a few minutes. The Bible changed my life. God has opened my eyes again and again through his word. He speaks to us through his word. The Bible reveals God’s holiness, majesty, glory, love, mercy and his incredible salvation to us.