Today I would like for us to turn our attention to the mighty miracle of the universe as revealed in the heavens above us. So often we plod our way over the earth, hardly lifting our eyes to the incredible beauty which appears nightly in the skies. We spend too much time in the great cities where there is so much light we cannot even glimpse the beautiful stars. Everyone should spend some time alone in the country watching the majestic march of the constellations from dusk until dawn. No thinking mind could ever after that question the existence of God.
Did you know that every astronomical observatory is a fulfillment of a Scriptural command? Notice this interesting text in Isaiah 40:26: "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their hosts by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth." How often have we heard the foolish ranting of unbelievers, evolutionists and skeptics. Modern textbooks also loudly proclaim their scores of theories trying to explain the universe; but few of these people or textbooks take God into account at all. Chance and blind nature are given credit for all the complicated operations of our wonderfully balanced world.
Friends, it is hard to believe that men of intelligence and education could take some of the positions that are now held by so-called evolutionistic scientists. In Proverbs 3:19 we read, "The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth." Now, we owe our lives to that wisdom of God, friends, that set the forces of nature in operation. Our fate is not hinging upon some lucky accident of arrangement in this world of ours. We have already found out that the moon is just the right distance from this earth to make the tides useful. If the moon and earth were closer together, the tides might come up and actually submerge all the dry land areas. If the atmosphere was thinner over our head, the meteors could come crashing through and do terrible damage to the surface of the earth and to human life. There are thousands of examples which reveal the fact that this universe was designed and engineered by some marvelous intelligence. Not the least of these is the miracle of the stars.
In Psalm 19:1, 2 we read: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard." Only a great mathematician could have ordered the numberless stars to take their place in the vast heavens above. Actually, there are only two or three thousand stars visible to the naked eye of man, but there are thousands, millions, billions, trillions and quadrillions beyond that. In fact, we are appalled by the vast numbers and distances involved in the expansive universe of God. Yet with all the created heavenly bodies, God knows the name of each one. Psalm 147:4, "He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names."
Now for a few moments today, let's take an imaginary celestial journey sightseeing through star-land. We will not go by jet, because that is much too slow. We shall travel on the wings of light, which means that we will be speeding along at 186,000 miles per second. By the way, traveling at that tremendous rate, we will be able to circle the earth seven times in a single second. In one minute's time we can travel 11 million miles. We will start at the sun, the center of our own solar system, which is 93 million miles away from the earth. You know, if some great giant could stand on the earth and put out his arm to touch the sun, it would take a hundred years for him to know that he had been burned, according to the speed of nerve impulses traveling through the body. Think of the immensity of that sun?it is one million, three hundred thousand times larger than our earth. If the earth could swell up to become the same size as the sun, and man should grow up in the same proportion, a man would be 625 feet tall. That gives an idea of just how fantastic the sun is in comparison to earth.
Now we are ready to begin our journey. Remember that the vehicle is a beam of light. We are going to travel in one years time five trillion, eight hundred and eighty-one billion, eight hundred and seven million, eight hundred and ten thousand, six hundred and twenty miles. Now this is what we call a light year. This is the yard stick of travel in space. It is the distance that we will be able to travel in a year going at the amazing speed of 186,000 miles per second. So we start out from the sun to make this imaginary journey. Actually, there is no star within one light year of our sun. In fact, the nearest star to the earth is four and one-third light years away. That means it will take us four and one-third years to get there, even though we travel on a beam of light. It takes nine years for us to reach Sirius which is one of the brightest stars in our sky; 47 years to travel to the North star; 160 years to reach Arcturus; and 750,000 years to reach the nebula of Andromeda. So leaving the sun at the speed of light, we pass that nearest star in four and one-third years. But now, this is much too slow. Suppose we open up the throttle and actually travel one million times faster than light. Can you imagine, friends, what we are speaking about now. We will actually be going a million times faster than 186,000 miles per second.
Well, at this rate, we would be able to shoot forward into space passing by great gaseous nebulas and systems much to vast for us to even comprehend. After months of travel we would reach the nearest galaxy to our earth, the great nebula of Andromeda. It would take four months to just pass through it going a million times faster than light. But still we go on until time and space just seem to merge into one. Every few years we would pass an island universe. And after a hundred years, traveling at a million times the speed of light, we would come to the limit of our telescopes. In other words, we would reach the edges of space as far as man has been able to see through his most powerful lenses. But as we look on beyond, friends, there would be a beckoning glow of countless other island universes. You see, the creation of God is limitless. Man has not even begun to investigate it or understand it. Think of it! Those trillions of blazing stars are formed into solar systems. Our nine planets, of course, circling around the sun forms our own solar system. And they all revolve in perfect order in their appointed paths.
Next we have what is known as group systems. Here thousands of suns with their stars and planets are clustered together, and each cluster moves along in its own direction; and yet within the cluster, the different solar systems are circling. Circling in their own directions and in their own paths. But the entire group is moving along also in a common direction. The next part is the amazing island universe which contains our 100 million suns. At least, the one in which the earth is located contains that many. Astronomers say that there are two hundred million island universes out there in the immensity of space. One of them, by the way, is 50,000 times larger than our own. The Milky Way is our island universe. The nearest other Milky Way system to us is a million light years away.
Now let us pause for just a moment, friends, and contemplate the power that is required to keep those systems in order. Why is there not constant collision and chaos? True, they are very far apart?there is plenty of space and yet, friends, they are traveling at tremendous, unbelievable speeds. I think of Arcturus, which is known as the runaway of the heavens. The average speed of a star is 26 miles per second. But Arcturus is rushing madly along at 257 miles per second. By the way, Arcturus is a million times larger than our sun, and we said that our sun was more than a million times larger than the earth. So this gives you an idea of the incredible mass of this star. And as it goes dashing wildly through space, it is drawing hundreds of other star travelers along with it. All at a speed of 900,000 miles per hour. Yet with this headlong rush through space, Arcturus has never yet crashed.
Notice how the Bible speaks of this in Job 38:32, "Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?" Ah, of course, Job seemed to understand about that runaway of the heavens. He spoke of it in his inspired writing.
Even our own world, of course, is no slow-poke, when it comes to travel. The earth turns about a thousand miles per hour on its axis. Then it orbits the sun at a speed of 68,000 miles per hour, and then, of course, our sun and the entire Milky Way system is moving along at 44,000 miles per hour. So, even though we are not conscious of it at all, we are moving at headlong speeds right through space. Now the most wonderful part of all is that these great systems seem to revolve around some common center. No one seems to know just where that spot is located in the heavens, but friends, I have no doubt that it is the very throne of God.
The universe staggers our imagination. But it is so humbling to realize that this little earth is simply a speck of cosmic dust in the great plan of God. We are almost lost out here amidst the complexity of all the space groups and island universes. But, here is a fact we must never forget. This is the only world that went astray. Amidst all the untold billions of other heavenly bodies, this one alone disobeyed God and became a rebel. Oh, friends, what did God do for this prodigal world? Why didn't He just let it go and wipe it out of existence and make another one to put in its place? No, He loved man too much to do that, so He sent His Son down to this tiny planet to save the degraded, sinful rebels who lived here. And, by the way, this one who came down with the power to save and redeem, was the same one who set the orbits of the solar system in their appointed places. He flung the far limits of the universe which man has never been able to probe.
Listen, have you pondered the magnitude of that love which caused Him to be tied to a tiny, ugly world so full of sinful, ugly people? Look at yourself today. How painfully aware we are of our deformity of character. The inroads of sin have cut deeply into the lives of human beings. More than human strength is needed now to save us. We are going down too fast, and we have gone too far already. Yes, we need a deliverer. That same power has been waiting to pick us up, to lift us, to renew us, to change our hearts and lives. When we pray, God reaches down to save us. Isn't that wonderful, friends, how God can love us like that?
We have no way, from our poor human perspective, to even imagine the glory and majesty of that heavenly throne where God rules the universe. Because of the immensity of space, we can't picture the physical reality of an actual city where the mighty Creator God oversees the galaxies and island universes He has created. Once in a while, through the powerful telescopes, men can get glimpses of spectacular glowing gases of indescribable beauty. They have actually captured those scenes on film. But yet the Bible says eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for us in His kingdom.
Friends, I believe God has veiled His glory there and the glory of His great New Jerusalem city in Paradise. Isn't it a wonderful thought that right through those great open spaces in the sky, someday God will come down bringing His holy city with Him and all the angels of heaven. Yes, we know the skies will separate soon. The trumpet army of angels will descend with Him and Jesus will appear seated on a cloud coming back to redeem the earth from its terrible curse of sin. The question is, friends, will we be ready for it? Are we ready now? It is not something to prepare for later. It is something to be ready for today. Won't you receive Him now so that you will be ready to meet Him in that glorious day that is just before us?