The greatest understatement in the Bible

The Bible doesn’t often pull any punches, especially as it relates to God’s sovereignty over everything in the universe. “Our God is in the heavens, He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). Yet, there is one verse that appears to be a great understatement. In describing the creation account, we read, “God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; [He made] the stars also” (Genesis 1:16). Literally, we read, “… the stars also,” as if the stars were a tiny piece of creation.

Our galaxy holds several hundred billion stars. There are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe, among which our galaxy is an average sized galaxy. If you do the math, you will discover that the universe contains more than 10 billion trillion stars. Do you know how much a “billion trillion” is? It is called a sextillion. It’s beyond our ability even to grasp the size of this number. As scientists know more, the number of stars seemingly always increases.

Serge Brunier sets it all in perspective. He writes, …

At one time, astronomers had an ambition to catalogue all the galaxies. Charles Messier, Louis XV’s astronomer, discovered about sixty, and at the end of the 19th century, the Danish astronomer Johan Dreyer recorded nearly 10,000, after three decades of observations. At the turn of the century, astronomers — who were quite ignorant of the true nature of the small, indistinct patches of light they were finding in the sky — still had no idea of the utter impossibility of the task they had set themselves. Nevertheless, as the power of telescopes increased, so too did the number of galaxies … James Keeler, who studied them with the Crossley 91cm telescope at the Lick Observatory, estimated in 1900 that their total number was slightly more than 100,000. Between the 1950s and 1980s, astronomers at the observatories at Palomar in the Northern Hemisphere and La Silla and Siding Spring in the Southern, commissioned Schmidt telescopes (a form of powerful, wide-field camera), with the aim of mapping the whole sky. The sensitive plates that were obtained were so rich that scanners, linked to powerful computers running shape-recognition software had to be used to make a census of galaxies. Several tens of millions had been recorded on the photographic plates.

Since then, no further census of galaxies has been attempted. (Serge Brunier, Majestic Universe, Cambridge University Press, p. 93, as quoted by Stuart Burgess in his book, “He made the stars also,” p. 109.)

Our sun is an average star in the universe. We can fit a million earths in our sun. It’s mind-boggling to think of the Bible mentioning God’s massive creative power almost as an afterthought, … “He made the stars also.”

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