In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1, NKJV)
Beginnings. Every New Year’s Day, people worldwide reflect on the previous year and resolve what they will do during our next 365-circuit around the sun. It is a perfect moment to remember who created the heavens and the earth and, therefore, time itself. With the precision that defies random chance, the earth sits on its tilted axis, rotating to produce night and day (not to mention gravity). This well-arranged order also gives the earth its seasons, protecting us from the sun’s otherwise harmful and deadly effects while sustaining plant, animal, and human life. God did that (Gen. 1; Psa. 33:6-9; Jer. 51:15-16). The hubris of humanity dares to think humans control this globe. God said to Job, “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place” (Job 38:12)? We neither control the morning light nor the dark of night; God does. How foolish it is to think humans control the heavens and the earth! “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:4-7)? Pause as another year begins to give thanks to God, our Creator, and Sustainer. Thank God for your life, and especially for the life He gives you in Christ (Rom. 6:23). There is no better beginning to your new year.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. 2 Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:1–4, NKJV)
“A study entitled ‘A Limited Habitable Zone for Complex Life’ and published in The Astrophysical Journal drastically cuts the number of planets that could potentially host intelligent life” (“Extraterrestrial life could be scarcer than first thought, study says,” foxnews.com). After this more than 3-year-long study of 1,327 stars close to the earth, “no ‘glaringly obvious’ evidence of extraterrestrial life” was found (“No signs of alien life in closest 1,300 stars, study says: ‘We are left with zero candidates,’” foxnews.com). It is truly ironic that while humans search the distant stars for evidence of and messages from other life forms, they refuse to listen to the clear message the heavens communicate of God’s glory, power, knowledge, and wisdom. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). When people refuse the evidence of God’s power and deity in the material world, they are left searching aimlessly for the very answers they refuse to see. And, by refusing His gospel of salvation, they remain under God’s wrath against their sins (Rom. 1:16-19, 22-25).
6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, 7 All sheep and oxen— Even the beasts of the field, 8 The birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:6–8, NKJV)
David’s soliloquy of praise and thanksgiving to Yahweh expanded as he considered outer space and humanity’s relation to it: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him?” (Psalm 8:3-4) David recognized our smallness in the presence of such splendid power and expanse. Yet, he also marveled at the position of authority and responsibility God gave us over this world He created. Would that mankind would have such regard today! Instead, untold millions ignore the Creator while deifying Earth, His creation. It is all the work of God’s hands, yet He has given the world’s stewardship to us. What honor and who responsibility God has given us (Psalm 8:5)! God created the heavens and the earth to sustain life on earth so that we would honor Him as we live on it (Acts 14:15-17). We – humanity – are God’s crowning creation. We are humbled by His greatness and by the magnitude of His blessings toward us. “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9)
5 And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints. 6 For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord? 7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those around Him. (Psalm 89:5–7, NKJV)
The sovereign majesty of God is on full display in the heavens: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). The wondrous precision of the heavenly bodies sustains life on earth and measures time on this globe. God faithfully works in the heavens and in the assembly of His holy ones. He rises above all the heavenly host and is held in reverential awe by them. The holy ones before His throne proclaim, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11). How much more so, then, ought we to fall before His majesty with reverential praise and adoration! Worship is not play time, entertainment time, or anything else but giving homage to the Lord God “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). As the hymn says, “There is none like Him, none can compare.”
24 I said, “O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days; Your years are throughout all generations. 25 Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. 26 They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. 27 But You are the same, and Your years will have no end. 28 The children of Your servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before You.” (Psalm 102:24–28, NKJV)
When spiritual enemies surround you, seeking your soul’s destruction, remember the eternal God who created the earth and the heavens. He continues forever, long after they perish. He is the One to trust for relief in the moment of trial. God’s unchanging nature assures He fulfills His eternal purposes for His servants and their children. He chastens His children through trials, to train and perfect our faith (Psalm 102:8-11; Hebrews 12:4-7). Still, He hears the cries of His people, and does not despise the prayers of those who set their hope on Him (Psalm 102:1-2, 17). His unending mercy abounds to His ceaseless praise (Psalm 102:18-22). The One who laid the foundations of the earth has established Zion (His church, Hebrews 12:22-23). He will establish you and sustain you through the temporary trials of the flesh, to deliver you to eternal glory.
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, 4 What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? 5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:3–5, NKJV)
Take time out of your busy life to consider the heavens. They are not ours; they belong to God. Pondering the sun, moon and stars teaches us of God’s mighty power and precision. His wondrous plans and purposes achieved with a simple, “God said…,” and it was so (Gen. 1; Psa. 33:6). Many were reminded during the recent solar eclipse to think about humanity’s place in this vast universe. As a young shepherd, David had many nights to gaze heavenward and ponder the greatness of God and the seemingly insignificance of man. And yet, man and woman are the crowning event of all God’s creation. How shameful it is when we forget God, who created us, sustains us, and crowns us with glory (Psa. 8:6-8). Considering the heavens reminds us it is by God’s power that we exist, and by His lovingkindness that we are sustained. Gaze heavenward, and ponder the great glory of God (Psa. 8:1). By doing so, we are reminded to praise God and humble ourselves before Him, whose name is excellent in all the earth (Psa. 8:1, 9).
Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:13, NKJV)
The basic meaning of the expression “heavens and the earth” is that of a dwelling place, a habitation. In Genesis 1:1, God created the physical world – “the heavens and the earth” – for humanity to inhabit (Gen. 1:26-28). We later find a similar expression used with a spiritual meaning (Isa. 65:17; 66:22). Isaiah spoke of God creating “new heavens and a new earth” in which people would come to worship before Him (Isa. 65:17; 66:23). Isaiah was speaking of the church – the habitation or dwelling place of God’s people (Isa. 2:1-4). God dwells with His people (the church), and they with Him (2 Cor. 6:16-18). Christians are raised out of the death of sin to sit “in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5-6). We become citizens of a new kingdom when we are saved in Christ (Col. 1:13). Christians inhabit a new and spiritual realm, the church (Acts 2:47). Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). When Peter used the expression “new heavens and a new earth” in 2 Peter 3:13, he was looking forward to yet another dwelling place of God’s people – the eternal kingdom, our heavenly home (2 Pet. 1:11). In visionary form, John saw this “new heaven and a new earth” where righteousness dwells (Rev. 21:1). Entrance into it will be abundantly given to faithful Christians (2 Pet. 1:10-11).