“I think it’s arrogant of us to think
that we are alone in the universe.”
So said a network television news reporter
in a discussion of some new discovery in the universe.
That statement is surely one that we would agree with, though not as the reporter intended it. He was not talking about the arrogance of the atheist who says that we are alone in the universe because there is no God. His thought was that there surely must be life somewhere in the universe besides on planet earth; the universe couldn’t possibly be as vast as it is with life on only one little speck of a planet in one galaxy.
It is both arrogant and perverse to peer out into God’s universe looking for evidence that He does not exist, for the heavens declare His glory and the firmament shows His handiwork (Psalm 19:1), even to those who do not have His Word, or who reject it.
But without the Gospel, contemplation of the universe is no help. Just the opposite: it is downright scary. That the universe is a place so vast, with no apparent end to it, is awesome but hardly reassuring. It testifies of a mighty and wise God but offers no comfort about what His attitude toward us might be. At the same time, the conscience tells sinners that they have offended God, making any thoughts of an encounter with Him to be terrifying thoughts indeed.
But when we believers look at the universe, we see more than God’s wisdom and power, for we view the universe through the interpretive lens of the Word. In the Bible God tells us of His love for us sinners, a wondrous love revealed in the person and work of His Son Jesus Christ. It tells us not only of God the Creator, but also of God the Redeemer Who loved us enough to come down from heaven, to take upon Himself our human nature, and to sacrifice Himself to redeem us from sin, death, and eternal damnation.
With this knowledge of God, the universe takes on a whole new meaning. We see it in the Psalms. There David looks at the heavens and marvels that the Maker of them should take notice of us who are so small and so weak,
yet he knows that God created us with a high purpose (Psalm 8:4, 5); He had knowledge of each of us when He made the universe (Psalm 139:15, 16). To David the vastness of the universe is comforting, for it testifies of a God Who is great enough to care for us, to be in touch with our innermost thoughts and hear our prayers, to fulfill all His promises. He is a God great enough to bring this sin-corrupted universe to an end, to fold it up like a garment and in its place make new heavens and a new earth, an eternal home for us in which righteousness dwells (Hebrews 1:12;
2 Peter 3:13).
As we begin another year, we do so with the confidence that we are not alone in the universe, not left to our own devices with no hope and without God. We have our Savior God Who dwells in a high and lofty place but also with the contrite and humble (Isaiah 57:15). We have a God Who loves us for the sake of His Son Jesus, and Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above what we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
John Klatt is pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Loveland, Colorado.