big things and small things
"He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is his name..." (Amos 5:8)
BIG THINGS, AND SMALL. The universe is a big place. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has enabled us to peer farther -- in the case of the Cartwheel galaxy pictured above (photo courtesy NASA), some 500 million light-years farther -- into this amazing universe. In the words of the first chapter of Genesis this creation of stars and galaxies in the vastness of space is simply stated, "He also made the stars" (Gen 1:16 NIV). At the beginning there was not a what, but a who. An infinite, self-existent, personal Creator made this vast universe. In the book of Job, we are told that the stars and the constellations reveal to man the power of God and his unfathomable wisdom (Job 9:1-10; cf 38:31).
SIZE AND DISTANCE NO MATTER. Recently, I wrote about how the rocks and mountains point us to the immutability (unchanging nature and character) of God. So, in a similar way, the stars and galaxies reveal to us something of the God to whom size and distance do not matter. Theologian Louis Berkhof designates this attribute as God's immensity, by which he does not mean great size, but rather, beyond size, or infinite as regards space. He writes,
"The infinity of God may also be viewed with reference to space, and is then called His immensity. It may be defined as that perfection of the Divine Being by which He transcends all spatial limitations, and yet is present in every point of space with His whole Being. It has a negative and a positive side, denying all limitations of space to the Divine Being, and asserting that God is above space and fills every part of it with His whole Being."
WHOLLY THERE EVERYWHERE. For King David in Psalm 139, for example, the point is that no matter where David is -- since distance and location do not matter -- God is there, and he is wholly there. This is related to God's attribute of omnipresence, that he is fully present at every point in space and time. When we come to the New Testament, we read about the other end of the created spectrum: smallness, littleness. Jesus said, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7). Just as time (either short or long) does not limit God (2 Pet 3:8), so bigness and littleness in spatial terms are not limiting to God, his awareness, or his care. He is the God of galaxies and sparrows. Lilias Trotter once said, "God wants to show us that nothing is great or small to Him."
WHAT DOES GOD NOTICE? The prophet Isaiah wrote, "For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite'" (Isaiah 57:15). Sometimes we think we need to do big and great things in order to be noticed by God. Or conversely, we may think he doesn't care about the small things and the details in our lives. Hudson Taylor once wrote, "A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in little things is a great thing.” So, when we speak with kindness to our spouse and children; when we work hard in a job even though no one will notice; when we seek to guard our thoughts in purity; when we speak truthful and encouraging words to another; when we serve, or give, or pray, even in small matters, these may be little things to us, but they are important to the Lord.
If you live in the New River valley and would like to learn more about the attributes of God, please consider joining us for a class studying systematic theology, beginning in September.