I’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.
This sermon uses outer space to express the love, wonder, and provision of God.
“Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts next to space.” — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
I preached this at ConGlomeration science fiction convention in Louisville, KY in 2017. A friend of mine, Les Johnson, is NASA’s program director for their solar sail program, and as such was a Guest Of Honor at the convention. We’ve been friends for a few years, and since we’re both Christians and we both have a NASA background (although mine is way old), I decided that an outer space sermon would be cool.
The Hitched Guide to the Galaxy
Since the church is called the bride of Christ, and being married can be known as getting hitched, I titled this one after The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a classic science fiction comedy radio-play / novel / game / movie / etc.
I was volunteering at a Star Wars-themed event at the same time, and found a way to make PowerPoint slides do an opening crawl, which was pretty cool. I quoted the Hitchhiker’s Guide for the opening text, since the point it made was fitting for my message.
Sermon Around the Moon
On December 23, 1968, humanity was about to get its first glimpse at the dark side of the moon. Apollo 8 was about to orbit our orbiter. The crew radio’ed this message back to Earth just before they lost communication.
Bill Anders: “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: “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.”
Commander Frank Borman: “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, all of you on the good Earth.”
My God, It’s Full of Stars
The Bible often gets flak for being scientifically inaccurate. But there are some interesting phrases that were written many centuries before mankind understood space.
He sits above the circle of the earth. (Isaiah 40:22)
He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters, at the boundary of light and darkness. (Job 26:10)
He hangs the earth on nothing. (Job 26:7)
He made all the stars: Arcturus and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations. (Job 9:9)
Isaiah identifies the Earth as a globe. Job describes the day/night separation as a circle, claims that it’s floating in empty space, and names several heavenly bodies.
A scientist once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist asked, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “The first turtle stands on the back of a second, far larger, turtle, who stands directly under him.” “But what does this second turtle stand on?” “It’s turtles all the way down!”
Heaven and Earth
God created everything — whether or not we believe it, whether or not we understand it, whether or not we can even see it.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky above proclaims His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)
He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. (Psalm 104:5)
The Lord answered Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:1)
He made the universe for the same reason he made us — to glorify and praise Him.
The Final Frontier
As we study astronomy and other sciences, it can be easy to get lost in the details. The facts can distract us from the truth. Just about everything we learn only leads to more questions.
Do not regard the sun, moon, and stars as gods to worship. God your father has given them to all the people on earth. (Deuteronomy 4:19)
What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. Since creation, God’s invisible qualities have been clearly seen, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20-21)
The universe that God made is so wondrous, many consider the universe to be the biggest and most powerful thing there is. But the creation is not greater than the Creator.
A friend of mine is a geneticist. As he studied bodies, then organs, then cells, then nuclei, then DNA, and so on, he found God by looking smaller and smaller and smaller.
With my NASA experience, and a long interest in astronomy, I found God as I looked bigger and bigger and bigger.
*He later identifies them as cherubim in (Ezekiel 10:15).
Some people wonder if Ezekiel saw extraterrestrials in his wheels within wheels.
In appearance their* form was human, but each of them had four faces. Each of the four had the face of a human being, of a lion, of an ox, and of an eagle. (Ezekiel 1:5,10)
They sound pretty weird, I’ll grant. But the four-faced heads can represent four kinds of authority.
- Mankind has been given domain over the plants and animals on Earth.
- The lion is known as the king of the beasts.
- The ox is the strongest domestic animal (“as strong as an ox”).
- The eagle has been called the lord of the air.
So it’s not a freaky alien — it’s metaphor for complete sovereignty.
To clarify, Ezekiel opens and ends the chapter with this:
I saw visions of God. (Ezekiel 1:1)
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. (Ezekiel 1:28)
Those were visions that described the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. That there’s a lot of prepositional clauses.
“I’m not saying it was cherubim… but it was cherubim.”
Aliens Among Us
There are, however, alien beings here with us.
You might know one, or even be one.
I urge you as strangers and aliens to abstain from sinful desires that battle for your soul. (1 Peter 2:11)
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They admitted that they were strangers and aliens on earth. (Hebrews 11:13)
Obviously, this wasn’t meant to mean space aliens, but to call out that as followers of Christ, our lives should be so distinctive that all can see we’re “not from around here.” Our citizenship is in the kingdom of heaven. Earth is just our way-station, our temporary assignment, our airport layover.
Read more about aliens here.
Sure, the universe is cool and all, but that’s just the start.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. (Revelation 21:1)
The new and improved model is coming.
Well, the improved model is coming, anyway.
Jesus must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised. (Acts 3:21)
I believe that the new heaven and new earth are not separate and distinct from the heaven and earth we have now — they’re the perfected and redeemed heaven and earth.
When sin entered the world, all of creation fell. But God cannot make something that is beyond his redemption.
Just as he is redeeming our souls and giving us perfect bodies, He will redeem the entirety of creation.
“Even old New York was once New Amsterdam. Why they changed it I can’t say. People just liked it better that way.” — Istanbul (Not Constantinople), as popularized by They Might Be Giants
God’s new Jerusalem will be roughly one half the size of America.
I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven. (Revelation 21:2)
Its perimeter length and width and height were each 1,400 miles. (Revelation 21:16)
As Winston Zeddemore said in Ghostbusters, “That’s a big Twinkie.”
Besides having a new enormous city to live in, the redeemed land will flourish.
The desert will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. It will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. (Isaiah 35:1-2)
On each side of the river grew a tree of life, used for medicine to heal the nations. (Revelation 22:2)
Creation is currently in a holding pattern, waiting for the day that God will remove the curse.
“We can make him stronger. Faster. Better. We have the technology.” — The Six Million Dollar Man
I may look like an overweight balding middle-aged guy, but… Well, yeah, I am an overweight balding middle-aged guy, but that’s just temporary.
There will be no more death, mourning, crying, nor pain. No longer will there be any curse, hunger, nor thirst. (Revelation 21:4,22:3,7:16)
The people will no longer be sick and helpless. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the mute will sing, and the lame will leap. (Isaiah 33:24,35:5-6)
Every physical ailment and infirmity will vanish. I’ll actually be able to sing and dance.
Heaven won’t be sitting around in the clouds playing harps. Unless you really really enjoy that sort of thing, I guess.
He will fill us with eternal pleasures. (Psalm 16:11)
In those days people will live in the houses they build and eat the fruit of their own vineyards, and long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall sing with everlasting joy on their heads. (Isaiah 65:21,22, 51:11)
Many will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 8:11)
We’ll never get bored. Each day will bring new fun, new discoveries, new travel, new work, new food, new friends, and more.
Yes, I have favorite theoretical physicists. Why don’t you?
Come, Let Us Reason Together
As two of my favorite theoretical physicists say…
Albert Einstein: “The more I study science, the more I believe in God.”
Michio Kaku: “It is clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules that were created, shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance.”
You can download the PowerPoint slides here.