God’s Planetarium; A Total Eclipse of the Human Heart
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” – Psalm 8:3-4
I have always enjoyed astronomy. As a child, one of my favorite places was the planetarium in my hometown. When we visited relatives in Huntsville, Alabama, the U.S Space and Rocket Center was a must see. One day in third grade my teacher, Mrs. Radford, explained the difference between a partial solar eclipse and a total solar eclipse. She said that it would be thirty-three years before North America would experience another total solar eclipse. She then rattled off the date of the eclipse. Reaching into my desk for anything to write on, I grabbed a book I had been reading. Quickly, I flipped to the back of the book and wrote down August 21, 2017. I remember thinking that no matter where I would be on that day, I would make sure to experience the eclipse to the fullest extent.
As I write this devotional, we are only three weeks away from this once in a lifetime event. And I have a promise to keep to a little eight year old boy from 1984 – I am committed to experience the total eclipse to the fullest extent. On that day, our family will travel to an area of Tennessee located in what scientists refer to as the eclipse’s “path of totality.” I pray the trip is a teaching moment for our children as they enjoy a front row seat at God’s planetarium. Our family Scripture that day will be Psalm 8:3-4. It is a great passage to coincide with the eclipse. Here are a few life lessons I pray God will teach my children through the events of that day.
For starters, God spoke the universe into existence with the greatest precision. David poetically describes the moon and the stars as the work of God’s fingers. Yet God never broke a sweat. He simply spoke the universe into existence. Our God the scientist placed the sun, the moon, and the planets in the perfect order for everything to be in harmony. This truth is confirmed all the more when scientists are able to predict eclipses hundreds of years in advance, and do so to the day, the hour, the minute and the second.
Secondly, daytime darkness reminds us of God’s judgement within the Word of God. When Christ was crucified, there was three hours of darkness (Mark 15:33), a timeframe much longer than the 2 minutes at 34 seconds we will experience during the total eclipse. Now what happened during that timeframe between Father and Son we do not fully understand. However, we do know that the sin of the world was heaped upon Christ as God the Father placed His Son into an oven of wrath and fury. In that moment, Christ received the judgement mankind so rightly deserved. Also, it is worth noting that the darkening of the sun and God’s judgment are coupled together on the great and terrible day of the Lord (Joel 2:31, Acts 2:20).
Third, we are the crowning glory of God’s creation. After pondering the greatness of the universe, David asks why God even takes thought of man. Yet he answers His own question in verse five when he says God has made man, “a little lower than God” and that He has crowned man “with glory and majesty.” This means mankind is the most precious part of God’s creation; for we are His prized jewel. This truth is to be seen in light of the total solar eclipse; for though an eclipse is an unforgettable event of great importance, the aspect of God’s creation with the greatest importance is mankind; for man is the only part of the created order made in the image of God.
Finally, God totally eclipses the hearts of His people with the shadow of the cross. Eclipse means “to overshadow” or “to take precedence.” In a total solar eclipse, the moon overshadows the sun. The moon takes precedence. And so it should be within the Christian life. When someone surrenders to Christ, their life should no longer take precedence. Rather, Christ should be the focus. He overshadows by taking center-stage in their life.
I pray these spiritual truths speak to you. And may we all be amazed by the beauty and majesty of God’s planetarium!
– Pastor Eric