“If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12)
I don’t know what you think about when lying awake at night unable to sleep, but recently my mind has dwelt on the wonders of there being a planet Earth in the first place, and all that this means for the children of God.
The Psalmist said “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). I read that and think, “If you only knew, King David. You spoke those words three thousand years ago. What if you knew what we know now! The human body is truly the marvel of the ages.”
And yet, the earth is also just as fearfully and wonderfully made. Just as awe-inspiring, with as much the signature of the Divine on it as any human carries.
Consider this one thing: HOW MANY FACTORS ARE REQUIRED FOR EARTH TO SUSTAIN LIFE?
Any one of the following not being in place could kill the whole deal. And yet, they’re all there, in place, doing their job, while I sit here at a laptop in my dining room, with a cup of Dunkin Donut coffee to my right and earth all around me, requiring absolutely nothing from me. I am completely in awe of this.
What makes life on Earth work? Some factors include….
1) The right distance from the sun. Earth lies in the habitable zone.
2) The ideal rotation. One “day” on Venus, we’re told, requires 243 of our days for one rotation. By rotating once every 24 hours, earth distributes sunlight to the whole planet.
3) The makeup of the atmosphere. Carbon, hydrogen, oxides, nitrogen, etc. Get it out of balance and everything dies.
4) The biosphere. That is, the makeup of plant/animal life with their harmonious interconnections is perfect.
5) The hot inner core to warm the planet from the inside.
6) Raw materials in the ground have allowed us to construct buildings and cars and this computer.
7) Water is found in three forms: liquid, gas, solid. It’s drinkable, and it cleanses itself with the cycle of evaporation, clouds, rain, and runoff. We have all we will ever need, since the planet is 2/3 water.
8) One sun. We have sunlight, but not too much of it. The sun can power the planet, yet ripen a bunch of grapes and open a flower as though it had nothing more important to do.
9) One moon. Some planets have two or more. Imagine the problem with their tides–if they only had water, which they do not. Our moon being one-third the size of earth, we’re told, is perfectly proportioned.
10) Protective layers of atmosphere. Asteroids (with few exceptions) burn up on entering the atmosphere and most radiation bounces off.
11) Honey bees. I’m thinking of a recent television program about trouble in some parts of our country where bees are dying out. The eco-balance is thrown off and trouble may be in the future.
12) The magnetic field.
13) Plate tectonics.
15) A stable planet. No daily lava flows, no fierce storms such as some planets experience with killer winds and and hurricanes which last for years.
16) The right tilt on its axis.
17) Earth’s orbit has to be perfect and maintain a good eclipse around the sun.
18) Earth has to be the right size and not moving too fast.
19) The surface of the earth is ideal to support various kinds of life.
20) Carbon dioxide is in the right amount. This poisonous gas makes up most of the atmosphere on other planets, making them unable to support life. The smaller amount on earth helps to moderate the planet’s temperature and is absorbed by plants during photosynthesis to make oxygen, which animal life requires.
21) Climate. Not extremes. The amount of carbon dioxide is constantly being replenished by volcanic eruptions.
22) Earth heals itself. Factories belch smoke into the air, volcanoes throw their ash heavenward. Earth takes it and absorbs it and through processes unknown to this country boy, recovers from it. (The downside is that if volcanoes or factories overwhelm the system, earth does not have time to recover and heal itself.)
I’m guessing there are 978 more iron-clad, essential factors which make earth able to sustain life, any one of which would sabotage the whole system. (Note: People of a more scientific bent than me may debate one or two of the above and say I’ve made it too simplistic. Maybe so. But they cannot argue with the fact that of all the planets we have yet found, only one has lovely sunsets and juicy peaches, lakes like Tahoe and beaches like Gulf Shores, Alabama, and puppies and roses.)
The hymn speaks for me: “I stand amazed in the presence….”
Add to all this the fact that this small planet is hurtling through space at something like 67,062 mph, in its orbit around our sun. Furthermore, the sun (and our entire solar system) are swinging through our galaxy at even greater speeds. And if that were not enough, the entire galaxy is moving through the heavens at an astronomical (really!) rate of speed.
And yet, my coffee cup sits here without a single motion wave on its surface. You can lay a ball on the grass in the backyard and come back tomorrow to find it has not budged.
The complete lack of turbulence I find as amazing as anything.
Perhaps the greatest compliment to the Creator who thought this up, worked it out, and set it into motion is this unarguable fact: For centuries, the great masses of humanity gave no thought–zero, nada!–to the “rising” and “setting” of the sun, falling of the rain, and turn of the seasons–but went on their merry way raising families, growing crops, creating governments, building houses, making love, having babies, and struggling to pay the bills, and yet, the earth’s systems went on operating flawlessly.
Earth is not dependent on humankind for its energy, its continued rotation, its atmospheric makeup, or its science. We may take it for granted.
That I find to be the most wonderful thing of all.
The psalmist said, “The heavens are the heavens of the Lord; but the earth He has given to the sons of men” (Psalm 115:16).
There is such a lagniappe to earth.
Earth is not spartan, a bare-bones economical model, but is lavishly appointed. When God made this planet, He chose to give us the Luxury Model.
We have colors.
We have oysters. Who but God would have thought of such?
We have butterflies from caterpillars.
We have sunsets and sunrises, blueberries and strawberries, Chilton County peaches and crepe myrtle trees.
We have starry nights and moonglow, the occasional comet to remind us there is a whole universe out there, and eclipses for the same purpose.
And that’s why we say….
If I can believe in Earth, everything else is simple.
If I can believe in Earth, then Heaven and hell are a cinch. The Scriptures are easy and an intelligent Creator God in back of it all is as logical as it’s possible to get.
People today say they find the concepts of Heaven and hell unimaginable. An eternity of glory and an eternity of fire and brimstone.
And yet, those two are all around us.
Earth is a Heaven and all the other planets in our solar system are hellish.
Imagine something for a moment.
Imagine you were somewhere in the universe–just “somewhere”–and were told about a place called Earth. Imagine you were told of waterfalls and fields of sunflowers, of the Grand Canyon and the Everglades, and of temperate seasons, of eco-systems that replenish themselves, of oxygen and water in abundance, and a protective shield about the planet for protection.
You would not believe it.
“Pie in the sky by and by,” you might say. “I’m being asked to believe too much.”
And yet, this is the world on which we live. And because we are the first inhabitants to know the exact conditions on all the other planets in our solar system, we have the privilege of seeing the uniqueness of this small world.
We stand in awe.
And we believe in Heaven. And we believe in the God who made this world–and all the others–and in the unique revelation of Himself in the Lord Jesus Christ.
One final thing.
What are we to make of those who say, “With the vastness of the universe, the billions of stars, etc., there absolutely must be other planets sustaining life. We just haven’t discovered them yet.” What are we to make of that?
Those who insist on this use it to shoot down the uniqueness of Earth and the evidence it gives for the existence of a benevolent Creator God.
I am old enough to remember that people used an earlier form of this same argument before man began sending probes to other planets. People said, “There are eight other planets in this solar system. You cannot tell me that we are the only one with life!”
Now, they simply move the argument into outer space. That matter will not be settled in my lifetime or yours, I expect.
I keep thinking of the reasoning the Apostle Paul used when on trial for insisting that Jesus Christ was risen from the dead. “Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8)
If God is God, where’s the problem?
If God can make an Earth, surely He has no trouble fashioning a Heaven.
It would just be a larger, more improved version, one with eternal dimensions.
“Dear Lord, I believe! Thank you a thousand times, thank you.”