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Discovery Magazine 3/1/1999

The Planets and Stars— Who, Why, When?

When you gaze up at the night sky, isn’t it amazing what you can see? Scientists have estimated that even without a telescope you can see 5,000 stars, 5 or 6 planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and sometimes Uranus), and the Moon. There are billions of galaxies in the Universe, and hundreds of billions of stars in those galaxies.

But who created all of this? When was it created? And why? The Bible teaches in Exodus 20:11 that God created the Universe and all that it contains. We read more details in Genesis 1:14-19: "Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth’; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness."

The Bible also tells us that God used six days to create the Universe, but created the Sun, Moon, and other heavenly bodies on the fourth day (Genesis 1:19). So now we know Who created these things, and we knowwhen. But why did God create the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets?

First, the Sun serves to separate day from night (Genesis 1:14,18). Second, the heavenly bodies help us keep time and distinguish the various seasons on our planet (Genesis 1:14,18). Third, the Sun, Moon, and stars provide light for the Earth (Genesis 1:15,17). Fourth, stars serve as navigational aids. For thousands of years, sailors have been using stars to help them travel the oceans and seas. Using the position of the stars—including constellations, some of which are mentioned in the Bible (read Job 9:9; 38:31; Amos 5:8)—sailors and others could steer their way around the globe, and know where they were and where they were going. (Stars remain at constant positions in the sky, while planets appear to move. In fact, the word "planet" comes from a Greek word that means "wanderer.")

Fifth, the beautiful stars and planets in the night sky should cause us to honor and respect God as their (and our!) Creator (read Psalm 19:1). On a lovely spring night we can look to the heavens, point to the stars, and say to our friends standing nearby, "My heavenly Father did that!" The apostle Paul said: "There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory" (1 Corinthians 15:41). Imagine serving and loving a God Who is so powerful that He can create and sustain billions of galaxies and stars—each different from all the others! Jupiter, for example, is the largest planet (measuring 74,130 miles in diameter). Earth is the fifth largest (its diameter is 7,930 miles). Pluto is the smallest (its diameter is only 1,440 miles).

So now we know Who created the planets and Stars: God. We know when: on the fourth day of His creative activity. And we know why: to serve men and cause men to want to serve God. The next time you look up into the night sky, remember to thank God for creating all of this for you.



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