Have you ever stood outside on a clear night and gazed at the sky — and wondered? Indeed, there is all the more to wonder at, now that man has begun to explore the depths of the universe.
Light travels at 186,000 miles per second and the nearest star (other than the sun) is twenty-five light-years away. Yet modern telescopes can see galaxies millions of light years away.
Why did God make the stars? We might reply, ‘O Lord … thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created’ (Revelation 4:11). And indeed that would be enough, could we add no more. But we can add more, because he made the stars for us.
Life on other planets?
I reject out of hand the notion that there is life elsewhere in the universe. The godless evolutionist says, ‘there must be life on other planets because in an infinite universe there must be an infinite number of chances that the conditions which produced life on earth also exist elsewhere’. Not so. There were no ‘chances’ at all. God madethe stars and planets, as he willed.
I never refer to the earth just as ‘a planet’. As godliness has declined in our nation, people speak increasingly of what is happening to ‘our planet’. This relegates the earth from its unique position and function in God’s universe to an astronomical curiosity.
No! God so loved the world— the world. And in relation to (and for the benefit of) this microscopic speck of universal dust, ‘he made the stars also’ (Genesis 1:16).
But why did he make them? Just to give us light in the darkness? Again, it would be enough. He would have ‘made the stars also’ just to guide the seafarer on a dark night. But it was for more than that. The stars are referred to more than fifty times in Scripture, and the references are for our instruction. Here are ten reasons why God made the stars.
To show his greatness
Never has such a mighty act been dismissed in so few words. Five words in the English Bible: ‘he made the stars also’. Remove the italics and we have the nearest literal rendering in a mere three words: ‘the stars also’. Return to the Hebrew text and it is two! Yet, according to Scripture, this vast universe of stars serves a primary purpose, namely, to show the greatness of God.
‘The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handiwork’, declares David. Solomon asks, ‘Will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee’. Job ponders how God ‘maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south. [He] doeth great things past finding out, yea, and wonders without number’ (Psalm 19:1; 1 Kings 8:27; Job 9:9).
The Lord who made the stars can do what no man can ever do — count them. ‘He telleth the number of the stars: he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord and of great power: his understanding is infinite’ (Psalm 147:4). No wonder we sing,
O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works thy hand hath made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Saviour, God, to thee,
How great thou art!
To show man’s smallness
The second reason God made the stars is to show how small is man. The Psalmist said, ‘When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast created; what is man, that thou art mindful of him?’ (Psalm 8:3-4).
The pride and arrogance of man is amazing. Men vaunt themselves against God. How absurd! The nations are as a drop in the bucket and as the fine dust of the balance (Isaiah 40:15). In comparison with the earth, man is a speck of dust; in comparison with the galaxy, the earth is a speck of dust; and in comparison with the universe, the galaxy is a speck of dust. And yet, God is mindful of us. He made the stars for us.
To leave us without excuse
Thirdly, God has given us the stars as a witness, so that those who deny their Creator are altogether without excuse. The ungodly man, in the pride of his fallen intellect and false intellectualism, likes to speak of ‘honest unbelief’. God sees it differently. ‘For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men … For the invisible things of [God] … are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse’ (Romans 1:18-20). Professing themselves to be wise they have become fools. Only a fool can look at God’s creation and say in his heart, ‘There is no God’.
Unbelief is the greatest sin. But men have committed two other sins in relation to the stars, namely, bowing before them and divining by them. First, they have offered worship to them. Rome’s ‘Queen of Heaven’, represented by the pre-Christian symbol of the Madonna and child, has been worshipped from time immemorial (Jeremiah 44:17). Second, as well as worshipping and serving the creature rather than the Creator, they have used the stars to divine the future. The Lord has said regarding astrologers, stargazers and horoscope writers, ‘They shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves’ (Isaiah 47:13-14).
To show us our total depravity and point us to redemption
‘How can man then be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. How much less man, that is a worm?’ (Job 25:4-6).
Here is the great gospel question — how can a man be justified with God? Writing at the dawn of world history, Job had already given the answer! ‘I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God’.
Can we find anything on earth pure enough for the eyes of God? No. Then let us turn to the heavens. Surely the burning purity of the gleaming stars meets his requirement? Not if Job is right; even ‘the stars are not pure in his sight’.
But here is something pure, namely, the precious blood of the Redeemer. What can wash away my stain? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Would God have made the numberless galaxies for this comparison alone? Yes, it is enough.
To show us God’s covenant
It was when he was taken out and shown the stars, that ‘Abraham believed God’. ‘Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars; if thou be able to number them … So shall thy seed be’. Abraham looked, and believed God.
Who are the seed of Abraham? Those who are of faith (Galatians 3:29). What is their number in heaven? The stars tell us. God made numberless stars to illustrate the outcome of his free, sovereign, electing grace, namely, ‘a multitude which no man can number’.
To show us the mercy and judgement of God
He made ‘the moon and stars to rule by night’. Why? Because ‘his mercy endureth for ever’ (Psalm 107:1). The stars are a sign that this is still the day of grace. When God takes away the light of the stars, the time for mercy will be past.
‘Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger … For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light … And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity’ (Isaiah 13:9-11).
Yet mercy is extended until the very last moment: ‘Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision. For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining’ (Joel 3:14-15).
As a guarantee of the final perseverance of the elect
Here is the ‘new covenant’ that the Lord promised his people in the gospel. (1) I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; (2) I will be their God, and they shall be my people; (3) I will forgive their iniquity; (4) And I will remember their sin no more (Hebrews 10:16-17).
But how can we be sure that we will not fall from grace? How can we be certain that our own wilful nature will not drag us down, so that the sins God has forgotten will be recalled? The stars tell us. ‘Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night … if my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; then will I cast away the seed of Jacob’ (Jeremiah 31 and 33).
The work which His hand hath begun,
The arm of His strength shall complete;
His promise is ‘Yea’ and ‘Amen’,
And never was forfeited yet.
To assure us of the resurrection of the dead
Everything we have in this life — our feelings, our knowledge, our being — is encapsulated within a frail, perishing body. A dark valley stands between us and glory. Our hearts at times are fearful.
But God uses the stars to teach us the resurrection of the body. ‘There is a … glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead’ (1 Corinthians 15:41-42). There are stars with a faint, dim glow and others of dazzling splendour. It is the same with our bodies. Now they are feeble and ready to return to the dust; then they will shine in glorious splendour.
To assure us of our glorification
There will not only be a resurrection of the body, but it will be a glorious resurrection. God made the stars in their brilliance to show the glory that awaits his faithful servants. A day is coming when the dead shall rise from the dust, ‘some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever’ (Daniel 12:2-3). God filled the heavens with brilliance to picture the glory that shall be revealed in us.
To portray his well-beloved Son
Finally, the stars were made to illustrate the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth’ (Numbers 24:17).
To the ungodly, he will appear as judge. But to his people he comes as a star, bringing light to darkened souls. ‘I am … the bright and morning star … Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely’ (Revelation 22:16). The last invitation in Scripture comes from One whose star-like glory outshines even the rising sun.
The author is an elder in Hermon Baptist Church, Glasgow. He is a consultant psychologist and President Elect of the British Psychological Society.