The Heavens Declare the Glory of God (and That’s Not Enough)
God daily broadsides us with his abundant power and glory as we observe nature around us. And yet, as glorious as this book of nature is, it is not enough.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. (Psalm 19:1–3)
Have you ever seen something so amazing, so awe-inspiring in nature that you almost felt like God was revealing himself to you in a more profound way? That’s what David is expressing in Psalm 19. He is looking up to the heavens, observing God’s universe, and is enraptured by it all. At this moment, in a certain sense, creation is like a book that “pours out speech“ to us about who God is. Through the authorship of creation, God writes a letter to us, showing us how awesome and powerful he is.
In our day we have even more than the naked eye that David was limited to when he wrote this Psalm. We have such powerful microscopes now that one can look into the human cell and see our DNA. Norman Geisler explains,
"A single DNA molecule, the building block of all life, carries the same amount of information as one volume of an encyclopedia. No one seeing an encyclopedia lying in the forest would hesitate to think that it had an intelligent cause; so when we find a living creature composed of millions of DNA-based cells, we ought to assume that it likewise has an intelligent cause."(1)
Indeed, Romans 1:20 tells us that everyone naturally does “assume an intelligent cause” looking at nature: “For God’s 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.”
David continues with his poetry:
"Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat." (Psalm 19:4–6)
David sees the glory and power of God merely from the sun’s rising and setting on a daily basis. Indeed, this regularity, this constant predictability of the universe is one of the things that’s always stumped skeptical philosophers. After all, how can we account for anything being predictable if this is an entirely random, unguided universe? As science has looked more and more into creation, some prominent skeptics have been forced to concede that there has to be Something above and beyond our universe. Consider the late philosopher Anthony Flew’s story. For years, he was regarded as a premiere spokesman for atheism, so it shocked the philosophical and atheist communities when he suddenly announced that he had come to believe in some sort of divine intelligent being. In an interview, shortly before his death, he wrote,
"There were two factors in particular that were decisive (for my conversion). One was my growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe. The second was my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself—which is far more complex than the physical Universe—can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source."(2)
And so God daily broadsides us with his abundant power and glory as we observe nature around us. And yet, as glorious as this book of nature is, it is not enough. If one merely gets their information about God solely from the book of nature or “general revelation,” they won’t get the full picture. Sure, they may see a powerful, intelligent Being, but they won’t see the “God who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). For that information, we must turn to the scriptures or the book of “special revelation.” There, to our wonderful surprise, we find out that the God who made heaven and earth is intimately interested in our little planet. There, in the book of “special revelation,” we find out that the God who is not bound by space and time, enters into space and time, becoming just like one of us (though without sin). There through the means of ink and paper, we see the omnipresent God subjecting himself to weakness, poverty, and eventually death to make payment for all our sins, raising to new life and ascending to the heavens in victory over sin, death, and hell. This holy God does all this because though he is the God who demands perfection (Matthew 5:48), he is also the God promises the justification of the ungodly (Romans 4:5). This God who is the Beginning and the End declares to all who trust in what he’s done through Christ that they are forgiven sons and daughters, declared perfectly righteous in his sight.
So, the next time you see a beautiful sunset or have your breath taken away in praise on a starry night, remember the One who made all things isn’t merely your sovereign, glorious God who governs and rules all things; he is your Father who sings over you with delight and joy.
(1) Geisler, Norman & Brooks, Ron. When Skeptics Ask. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996. Pg. 21
(2) To the Source, Exclusive Flew Interview, Benjamin Wiker, October 30, 2007