American astronaut James Irwin, gazing back at the earth from the Apollo 17 moon mission, said this: “As we got farther and farther away it diminished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful marble you can imagine. That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart. Seeing this has to change a man, has to make a man appreciate the creation of God and the love of God.” (The Hand of God, p. 158).
But who hung it there? And how does it stay in its exact orbit, maintain its rotation and perfectly provide precisely what its inhabitants need to live and flourish and multiply?
God’s greatness and power are captured in the very first verse of the Bible, Gen. 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (NKJ).
He created heaven, covered in Part 1 of this series, in the last issue of Straightforward. But notice the end of this verse – and the earth. God created the earth.
Nothing demonstrates the greatness of God more than a careful, detailed study of the earth and its ecosystems and life forms. It is truly thrilling and stunning to put it under a powerful “magnifying glass” and reflect unhurriedly on what we discover and plainly see!
For instance, the earth itself: There it is, just dangling out there in the blackness of space, unattached yet unwavering in its perfect rotation from west to east every 24 hours as it orbits around the sun every year. The law of gravity keeps everything and everyone from falling off its surface.
The atmosphere surrounding the earth provides the life–giving oxygen required for physical life. Water in abundance, top soil for growing food and sunlight for warmth and energy, all come together in just the right balance and amount to nurture life and regeneration among the plants, animals and human beings living and thriving on this most beautiful of all planets.
All of it is governed and sustained by laws intended to keep everything working properly and in order. Any problems or disruptions to this otherwise harmonious setting can always be traced back to human beings disobeying God and breaking His laws. The earth’s location in the solar system just happens (or not!) to be at precisely the right distance from the sun and moon to function perfectly—not too hot, not too cold. Just right! Coincidence? Not a chance!
A closer look
For a closer look at the greatness of God, let’s consider some of the life forms He designed and formed out of matter—which He also created. The animals: It’s fascinating to study the habits, actions and functions of the vast variety of animals roaming all over the face of the earth. Huge animals such as elephants all the way down to small animals like rabbits and chipmunks.
You will find big differences in appearance, size and temperament. Some are wild, some are gentle. Along with the differences, you find distinct similarities, such as the five senses, internal organs and skeletal systems. Animals are given instinct for life and survival. They have a strong desire to nurture and raise their young. Some mate for life and have longstanding extended families. Out of all of this emerges the clear–cut, unmistakable design of the Great Designer.
Here is an example of the maternal instinct in animals, written by the former managing editor and anchor for NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw. This is what he witnessed from a bluff in Montana as he watched a herd of elk cows lead their young calves across the West Boulder River, which was close to flood stage.
It was not an easy crossing. The calves struggled against the current and then had to thrash their way through thick brush on the far bank. One calf failed and was swept downstream, swimming frantically until he reached an eddy and was able to gain a sandbar on the side from which he’d started. He waded into the river and failed again, repeating the retreat to the eddy and the sandbar. He tried a third time and still didn’t make it. When he got back to the sandbar he was trembling, and I wondered, What now?
On the far bank, the rest of the herd waited patiently as the mother of the frightened calf stood at the water’s edge and, as God is my witness, nodded her majestic head to him, as if to say, “It’s okay; I’m coming to get you.”
With that she waded into the river and crossed over to him, nuzzling him for a moment before leading him upstream to an easier passage. They rejoined the rest of the herd and trotted off to greener pastures (The Time of Our Lives, by Tom Brokaw, pp. 272–273).
How could such an urge to risk life and limb for her small calf simply evolve in this mother elk? Impossible! This kind of family instinct was created by the Great God from the beginning of creation—instantly. And it reflects His love for all the creatures in His creation.
In Matt. 6:28–29, Christ says: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
Where did all of the beautiful flowers come from? Their intricate structure, gorgeous colors and wonderful aroma lead us straight to the brilliance of God. Notice the giant waterlilies found in the deepest recesses of the Amazon jungle.
Specialized strategies may be combined with symphonic sophistication, as in the case of the giant Victoria amazonica or royal water lily, whose flowers bloom, turn white, emit a strong odor, and sharply increase their temperature to attract the scarab beetles that pollinate them. When they arrive, the flower chamber closes around the feeding beetles, imprisoning them so that they become covered with pollen. Approximately twenty–four hours later, the flower changes to a red color that does not attract beetles, cools off, and releases the beetles, which then fly on, carrying the pollen to newly heated, white, fragrant lily flowers farther down the line. (The River of Doubt, by Candice Millard, p. 236).
Birds are some of the most amazing and thrilling of God’s creatures. Song birds, soaring eagles, homing pigeons that return hundreds of miles to the exact location they left; humming birds that hover and dart, searching for nectar, and many more.
“The American golden plover, makes a long nonstop flight over the open ocean. It may fly from Nova Scotia directly to South America, a distance of about 2,400 miles over water without a stop!” (The Big Book of Tell Me Why, by Arkady Leokum, Book 2, p. 69).
The arctic tern
Another very fascinating bird is the arctic tern. This is a small bird with narrow wings and short legs. Its wingspan is between 25–30 inches and it averages 11–16 inches in length. But look at its traveling capability. They will often fly an average of a thousand miles a week!
Arctic terns have the longest yearly migration of any animal in terms of distance between the start and end points. They travel from their Arctic breeding grounds to Antarctica and back—a distance of at least 25,000 miles—every year! Arctic terns often return to the same area where they were hatched, to breed. They are a ground–nesting species, and both parents rear the young. Hatchlings stay with the parents for about three months before they venture off on their own. (http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife–Library/Birds/Arctic–Tern.aspx)
To fly 25,000 miles per year is like traveling all the way around the earth at the equator, which measures 24,901.55 miles. Talk about aeronautical design and navigational skills. Just think of the frequent flyer miles they stack up!
And consider how attentive God is even to the birds of the earth. “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” (Luke 12:6). He is so great and unlimited that He actually notices what is happening to birds, in addition to everything else He does!
Fish come in many shapes and sizes. There are more than 20,000 different kinds of fish—all equipped with such wondrous adeptness that engineers try to replicate some of their shapes when building boats and ships.
The salmon has the unusual capacity of thriving in both salt water and fresh water, something most other fish do not normally do. Why? Because God designed them that way. The king salmon will travel as far as 3,000 miles up a river in order to reach the spawning spot—usually the exact spot where they hatched! Often they must fight their way over rocks, rapids and large water falls, to reach the desired location for depositing their eggs. Then the reproduction cycle begins all over again with newly hatched fish. This whole miraculous cycle with such meticulous detail surely reflects on the unlimited genius of the Great Creator God.
The majestic Sequoias
Trees are a dramatic witness to God’s greatness. Some of the oldest and largest living things to be found on the planet are forest giants like the Sequoia trees. One of these trees is called “the President.”
On a gentle slope above a trail junction in Sequoia National Park, about 7,000 feet above sea level in the southern Sierra Nevada, looms a very big tree. Its trunk is rusty red, thickened with deep layers of furrowed bark, and 27 feet in diameter at the base. Its footprint would cover your dining room. Trying to glimpse its tippy top, or craning to see the shape of its crown, could give you a sore neck. That is, this tree is so big you can scarcely look at it all. It has a name, the President, bestowed about 90 years ago by admiring humans.
Its dead spire, blasted by lightning, rises to 247 feet. Its four great limbs, each as big as a sizable tree, elbow outward from the trunk around halfway up, billowing into a thick crown like a mushroom cloud flattening against the sky. Although its trunk isn’t quite so bulky as that of the largest giant, the General Sherman, its crown is fuller than the Sherman’s. The President holds nearly two billion leaves… the old beast, at about the age of 3,200, is still growing quickly. (ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/12/sequoias/quammen–text).
Smaller, shorter trees are a marvel of complexity as well. Without acknowledging God’s Hand in it all, scientists are left with nothing but baseless theories in trying to explain the process of life in trees. For instance, what makes sap go up a tree?
Every single part of the human body receives a constant supply of blood which is pumped by the heart. In plants and trees, every single part receives water and nourishment, which we call sap. But a tree has no pump because it has no heart. Then how does the sap go up a tree? Science still cannot explain this mystery exactly! (The Big Book of Tell Me Why, by Arkady Leokum, Book 3, p. 9, emphasis mine).
Why not face the facts—only God could design and create trees which are beautiful and majestic testimony to His breathtaking mind–power and glory!
Now to the greatest of all of God’s creations—human beings! Here is what King David said about the human body. “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” (Ps. 139:13–14, NKJ).
If we had the time and space to examine all of the systems and parts of the human body, that alone would take a lifetime. But we can take a brief look at key functions of just a few parts of the body and still end up standing in awe of its amazing Designer and Creator!
Notice Gen. 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Right there is the origin of human life—brought about by the Life–giver Himself.
Let’s examine a few details of the human ear.
The ear is one of the most wonderful instruments in our body. Without our having to do any “tuning,” it can pick up the tiny tick of a watch one moment and the roar of an explosion the next.
When sound waves enter the outer ear they travel down a canal. At the end of this canal is a thin skin, stretched tightly across a tube. This skin separates the outer from the middle ear, and it acts as a drum membrane. From the inner side of this drum a short tube, called the “Eustachian tube,” leads to the throat. Enough air enters this tube by way of the throat to equalize the pressure caused by the vibrations on the other side of the drum membrane. Otherwise the membrane might be broken by loud sounds.
Directly behind the drum membrane in the middle ear are strung three curious little bones called the “hammer,” the “anvil,” and the “stirrup.” They touch both the drum membrane and the inner ear. When sound waves strike the membrane, they start the three bones vibrating.
These bones, in turn, set up a series of vibrations in the fluid of the shell–shaped inner ear. In this shell, called the “cochlea,” tiny cells transfer the sound to certain nerves. These nerves send them to the brain, which recognizes them, and that recognition we call “hearing.” (The Big Book of Tell Me Why, by Arkady Leokum, Book 1, pp. 120–121).
Something so delicate yet so strong, with so many finely tuned parts as the human ear—only the Master Maker could ever produce such an “instrument”! Talk about greatness unlimited.
And there is more. Our heart “squeezes and relaxes about 100,000 times each day and pumps about 3,600 gallons of blood in 24 hours in an adult male!” (The Big Book of Tell Me Why, by Arkady Leokum, Book 1, pp. 116).
Consider the marvelous hand. Look at all it can do—build, cook, draw, play musical instruments, crush a metal can and then immediately pick up a small pin from a flat surface, because it has been designed with such adroitness.
The most astounding part of the human body is the brain. This is the crowning achievement of the Creator in designing His greatest creation—the human being. In his book, “You Have a Brain,” world famous neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson said:
Do you realize that no super computer on earth can come close to the capacity of the average human brain? The most complex organ system in the entire universe is a tremendous gift from God. There are hundreds more neural connections in our brains than there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
I tell audiences of several thousand people that if I could bring one person up on stage, have her look out at the crowd for one second, then lead her away, then fifty years later I could perform an operation to take off the cranial bone and put in some depth electrodes, stimulate the appropriate area of her brain, and she could not only remember where everyone was sitting but also what they were wearing.
The brain sorts, organizes and warehouses that deluge of sensory data flooding in at millions of bytes per second. It’s the control and command center for all of our senses, all our other organs, our body temperature, and the operation of every system in the human body– –respiratory, circulatory, and more. Much more. Most of this work the brain does automatically without a thought (literally) from us (You Have a Brain, by Ben Carson, p. 10).
This incredible organ, all by itself, is enough to convince any honest person, even a skeptic, about the far–reaching, all–encompassing greatness of God. Then you add to that, microscopic life which is well organized and living robustly, and the clear, all–pervading evidence found any and everywhere throughout creation, including heaven and earth—respect for the overwhelming glory and greatness of God sets in permanently.
The Great God of Love
He knows all of the planets and stars by name and number. He knows when a tiny sparrow falls from the sky. And He knows how many hairs we have on our heads. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matt. 10:29–30).
HE HAS NO EQUAL. There is no limit to what He can do if He so decides. “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth…Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” (Isa. 40:25–26, 28–29).
God’s greatest attribute is boundless love, which He will pour out to anyone who will love and obey Him. Don’t miss out on the priceless opportunity of walking closely with Him. Only you can choose to enter into this loving lifelong journey. Here is how to start. “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.” (Ps. 145:18–19).
What are you waiting for? Call upon Him now and start an exciting daily walk with Him that will continue for the rest of your life!
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