The heavens declare the glory of God

The Voyager-1 spacecraft has become the first manmade object to leave the Solar System. Voyager was launched on 5 September 1977 to study the outer planets. It completed this task in 1989 and has just kept going. It is now 12 billion miles from earth. It takes 17 hours for radio signals from Voyager to reach earth. Voyager is now moving on to explore interstellar space. It will not approach another star for nearly 40,000 years, even though it is moving at 100,000mph. Transmissions from Voyager will stop in 10 years when its plutonium power sources are expected to run.

In December 1968 Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon. The three astronauts were the first people to see the earth as a whole planet and were filled with awe. As they orbited the moon they read from Genesis, Chapter 1.

Bill Anders began, “We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.’In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.’

Jim Lovell continued, “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”

Frank Borman concluded, “And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.’ And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you on the good Earth.”

God is not far from any one of us

In 1977 NASA launched the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft. They are the longest operating spacecraft in history and now, travelling at 10 miles per second, are both billions of miles from earth. They have passed by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and sent photographs back. In 1990 Voyager 1 took a photograph of earth, from a distance of 3.7 billion miles, which is called the Pale Blue Dot. Each Voyager has only 68 kilobytes of computer memory. The smallest iPod is 100,000 times more powerful. They are still sending signals back to earth, which take 16 hours to arrive. It is anticipated that soon they will leave our solar system and enter interstellar space. One of the men who worked very hard on planning the project, and who is now 76 years old, said, “We’re anxious to get outside and find what’s out there.”

The Voyager missions make it clear just how big the universe is and how small the earth is. Our planet is unique in the billions of miles the Voyager spacecraft have explored. Earth is very special with its abundance of water and teeming life. We human beings are also unique. In half a human life time of travel the Voyager spacecraft have found no evidence of other living beings. As they enter into the unknown darkness of interstellar space it seems unlikely they will find any there either.

The most important thing for us all is not so much to find out what’s out there, but to know who is out there. The Bible tells us about the great Creator God. In the opening verse of the Bible we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The account of creation which follows tells how God created the earth with all its beauty and how he created men and women to experience his love and to enjoy fellowship with him.

God has also sent his Son, Jesus, to this earth to live our life and to die so that we might be forgiven and know God. Finding God does not depend on messages from ancient spacecraft billions of miles away in space. In Jesus God has drawn near to us and shown us what he is like. He is not far from any one of us. The youngest child and the frailest adult can talk to him and he hears, for in him we live and move and have our being.