Yesterday, I sent you a message entitled, “It’s Sunday! But Don’t Go To Church” What I should have called it is, “It’s Sunday! But Don’t ‘Simply’ Go To Church.” Or, But Don’t ‘Merely’ Go To Church.” That certainly would have been more to the point (but wouldn’t have grabbed your attention as quickly. lol). When you climb into your car, drive across town, stop at all of the traffic light, what are you looking for? I’m as serious as a speeding ticket! Why do you go through all that trouble? Is it so you can fulfill one of your religious requirements? Does it make you feel special, more spiritual?
Actually, my hope is that we could discover what the Psalmist declared:
“Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad because of you.
Let those who love your salvation continually say,
“Yahweh is great!”” (Psalm 40:16)
Or, is your church simply a chore and a humdrum event you do each week (if that often). I was thinking about that Psalm and it oddly reminded me of something John Piper wrote way back in 1996! That’s right, it was written twenty years ago, and still rings true today! You see, on the 30th of January in 1996, a Japanese astronomer, Yuji Hyakutake spotted something with a pair of 25×150 binoculars! What he discovered was later called, Comet Hyakutake, and at its nearest, it was about 10,000,000 miles away! Now, that may seem like an insignificant event. And I saw photos of it and it looked like a fuzzy softball, but soon, despite its vast distance, you were able to see it with the naked eye all week! At times it was as big as the moon in the sky! One estimate said that Comet Hyakutake was on a 10,000–20,000 year orbit. So, I don’t think I will be here to see it the next time it arrives.
Now, back to Psalm, it says that those who love the salvation of God, continually say, “Yahweh is great!” However, the Hebrew more correct declares, “The Lord be magnified!” And that seems to put a different light on things. Now “magnify” is an ambiguous term. You can use a microscope to magnify things and you can magnify the planets and stars with telescopes. But here’s the thing, if you use a microscope to magnify something, you are trying to make something that is very small look larger. However, if you use a telescope, you are trying to make something large, that looks small, appear as it really is. To the right, you see a banana, and to the right, you see the “Horsehead” Nebula. See the difference?
That’s why Comet Hyakutake relates to this text. To the naked eye Hyakutake looked like that fuzzy softball, I mentioned. But do you know how big it really is? It is believed that Hyakutake probably has a nucleus of incredibly dense, solid ice and dust about six miles across. Then, as it approaches the sun, in the atmosphere — about 30,000 miles thick, they estimate, for Hyakutake. On top of that, there is the dust tail that may reach 6,000,000 miles long and an ion tail that extends even longer!
Now, this may seem insignificant to you, it fascinates me. When I was in High School, I belonged to an Amateur Astronomical Club. In fact, my dream was to become an Astronomer (until I found out I had to be good in Math, and I hated Math as much as pickles!) When I was younger, I had star charts posted on my bedroom walls, a large collection of model rockets, and recorded every televised report of the first moon landing! While on vacation one time, I stood on the beach of Lake Superior late at night. We had traveled to the most remote State Campground in Michigan, and as I stood on the beach, I stared at the sky as I saw for the first time the greatest wonder in all of Creation! Spread across the sky was the clearest view of the Milky Way I had ever seen. It made me so dizzy just watching the sky, I had to lie down.
I was so fascinated with Space Exploration and Astronomy, my dad used to say that all I had in my head was space! (I’ll wait a moment and see if you read that correctly). Okay, at a very young age, I was fascinated by the vastness of the night sky. It is so full of wonders!
But then, on October 27, 1979, I began a journey and discovered that Yahweh is filled to overflowing with wonders! Along with the Psalmist, I cried :
You have done many miraculous things, O Yahweh my Elohim.
You have made many wonderful plans for us.
No one compares to you!
I will tell others about your miracles,
which are more than I can count.
Wow! But here’s the problem: the wonders of the heavens do not appear as they really are. As we gaze at them from our easy chairs, they seem small and not at all very bright or awesome. So what do we do? We magnify them! That’s what a telescope is for. Not to make them look bigger than they are. But to help us, in our limited understanding and ability, to see how great they really are.
Tell you what, if you can magnify Hyakutake and show me that a smudgy softball is really 30,000 miles across (four times the size of the earth), then, I will be more amazed! If you can magnify the tail and show me that a dim cloudy trail of light is really 6,000,000 miles long, then, by golly, I will have a greatly different view of this amazing thing called a comet!
Well, that is what the Scriptures tell us we are to do with our Creator! We are to magnify him! Sadly, for many, our God is about as important as that Comet. He is a distant, smudgy soft ball of light in the sky, barely visible because of all the city lights. That is why we don’t honor him for who he is. We don’t feel He is as important as the television. We don’t find the Scriptures as compelling as Facebook. We don’t consider His company as stimulating as a NCAA basketball or the Olympics. Most people say he exists — the way comets exist. He is out there doing his thing and shows up in our sky every now and then (most often to be criticized for not showing up sooner), but he simply is not in the top ten of the influences in our lives.
Now this is very disappointing because all of us have been created to enjoy fellowship with our God and to be satisfied with his greatness. It is tragic to see people be amazed more at a street light than a comet because the street light looks brighter and bigger. It is dangerous because our God’s wrath rests on everyone who is so disrespectful. The whole reason we need a Savior is because we have “fallen short of the glory of God.” We have offended him so grievously that our only hope is in salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ.
When was the last time you considered this? When was the last time you weighed the debt that was owed, and great generosity of our Creator in offering His Son as payment for that debt? When was the last time you stared into the Heaven and said, “Father, I do so love you. Thank you for all you have done for me, You have done so many miraculous things, You have made many wonderful plans for me. No one compares to you! I will tell others about your miracles, which are more than I can count!“?
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add youm—a to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.