I read Psalm 19 this morning: “The Heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
Heavy cloud hangs over us today. Yesterday was beautiful, warm and sunny, the sky blue with a few fluffy clouds. The evening before, as we drove westward from Ashford to our home, the sky flamed with violet, crimson and gold. Now that’s when we say to our selves, “Ah! Glorious! God’s beautiful handiwork. Yes, the skies are declaring his majesty!”
But the Psalm goes on, “Day after day they pour forth speech.” That must indicate that every day the skies have something to say about God. What were they saying this morning when it rained? How is God speaking when the mist hangs over the meadows in early autumn; or when for days on end it is grey, grey, grey?
(My son in law wold probably interpret that as , “Move to Cape Town!”)
It is not only during daytime that the skies ‘pour forth speech’: “night after night, they display knowledge”. So a moonlit night, a starry sky, even a dark , cloud-covered night are all saying something about God. Nowhere on Earth is that voice silent, for the Psalm continues, “There is nowhere their voice is not heard; their voice goes out into all the Earth”.
What are they saying?
First of all, “I made it.” God created the Heavens and the Earth. Rain or shine, sun, wind , stars, snow, he spoke it into being , set it up and keeps it going.
Secondly, he is a God of infinite variety. “Listen!” Says Job.
“Listen to the roar of his voice: he unleashes lightning beneath the heavens, and after that comes the sound of his roar; he thunders with his majestic voice…..he says to the snow,”Fall on the earth” and to the rain shower, “Be a mighty downpour!” The breath of God produces ice, and the broad waters are frozen, he loads the clouds with moisture and scatters his lightning through them. At his direction they swirl around over the face of the earth…..You who swelter in your clothes when the land lies hushed under the south wind, can you join him in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?” (Job ch37)
Thirdly, he is a God of order. In Psalm 89 we read that God not only made the Heavens and Earth; he created “north and South”. In other words, he created the systems that determine the seasons, the orientation of the hemispheres, the way the planet turns, the wind currents that move the weather.
Fourthly, the skies remind us of how small we are and how great he is; how dependent we are on him for the basic elements of life. We suffered “unprecedented” (overworked word) heatwaves in Britain this year. Parts of the country also suffered massive floods. There was nothing we could do about either of these conditions! Afterwards people moan and complain that the government should have seen them coming and done something, but the truth is, no one is responsible for the weather! It is one of the few areas left where we have to admit our helplessness. We may plan our picnics, weddings, holidays, planting seasons, harvest: we look at the sky and pray for sun or rain, but ultimately there is nothing we can do to ensure the weather we want!
Job ch38 opens with these words, “Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm.” The beauty of our God is that his creation speaks of him, his might, power, majesty, order, infinite variety; but that then he discloses himself to us personally. He speaks in many ways.
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” His Son. The Word, “through whom he made the universe.” (Hebrews ch1:1-2)
The heavens are the work of his hands, but “they will perish, they will wear out like a garment, you will roll them up like a robe. But you remain the same and your years will never end.”
Look at the sky today. What is it saying to you? Whatever the weather, one thing is sure: the earth and skies will pass away. We may be able to slow down global warming; we may be able to adapt to changing climates, but it will be temporary. How will it end?
I don’t know.
“But this I know: the skies will fill with rapture,
And myriad, myriad human voices sing,
And earth to Heaven, and heaven to earth will answer,
At last the Saviour, Saviour of the world is king.”