Christ Lutheran Church Stover, MO
Christ Lutheran Church
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Loving GOD Through Worship and Service
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Pastor Tuura

 

Heaven and Earth

 

By Rev. Tom Tuura

Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church


This month I’m daring to continue this discussion on the earth.  I suppose we could call it biblical geology. The Greek word for earth as we stated last month is  ‘ges’, and ology is study of. We noticed that 50 years ago the astronauts on Apollo 8 were compelled to read from Genesis 1 when they circled the moon.  They were in fact in the “heavens”;  Hebrew, sha-miam, and Greek oo-ranous.

And it is the from the perspective of the heavens that science is creating quite a stir as well.   Now with the focus on Mars from the remote landers Spirit and Opportunity, which exceeded all expectations, and now Curiosity, cruising the Martian surface, space is trending again.  

I was just a boy of 8 years old when Apollo 8 was doing its thing, then the rest of the Apollo’s and first of the space shuttles.  As a young man in my 20’s I was devastated when the Challenger explosion was replayed on our TV screens. The shuttles kept launching, astronauts became mechanics, a delivery service, and the shuttles themselves “Uber” to the Space Station.  NASA stopped making and launching rockets—space faded to black. Emblematic of the times was the Hubble telescope—which was discovered to be fatally defective by design—wonderfully repaired and signaled the beginning of a transformation in outer space as the beautiful images of forming galaxies and exploding stars began coming in.  Then top it off with the astrophysicists, and cosmologists like Hawking, Tyson, and Sagan. Where am I going with this? Do you still believe Genesis 1? With the billions and billions of stars billions of light years away, can we still say God created the “heavens and the earth”--in 6 days?

This is the question our young people are wrestling with.  It’s not going to affect me too much one way or the other—and I grew up with it.  I’m not going to dodge the question, but obviously a church newsletter may not be the best place to engage it.  But there are resources and credible, (at least to some), phd’s and Christian scientists who are wrestling with these things.

But that’s not even the issue.  I think if we recognize the climate in which these discussions are occurring, we can go a long way.  Academics and scientists are great, but ultimately it is faith and trust in what the Bible itself says.  

It has a lot to say about the heavens.  In both the Old Testament, and New Testament, the term refers to anything above the ground, such as where birds fly, as well as where the sun, moon and stars are located.  In Deuteronomy, a good example is chapter 10 verse 14, “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it.”

When you consider that many poly-theistic peoples worshiped many gods, even named after the sun, moon and stars, but the Bible says in Psalm 8,  “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained...” we learn that not only did they place their one God over all others, He was the planets’ creator.  The ancient book of Job even mentions the constellation Orion and the Pleiades. It is amazing that when I look up into the night sky, I am looking at the same stars Abraham was when God told him to look up into the sky and count the stars, if indeed you can count them, (Gen. 15:5).

New Testament usage develops the concept in Jesus’ words of ‘kingdom of heaven’ and ‘reward in heaven’.  So there is an eternal and future sense to this spiritual dimension. It is also the abode of angels (Matt 28:2).  It is a place of authority as Jesus states that He will be “...sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matt 26:64)

But another important angle is the usage in connection to judgment and the end of all things.  Jesus says the “stars will fall from heaven” in Matthew 24:29. But if we turn to the Apostolic writings of Peter and John the inner circle Apostles, we really get an interesting picture.  Already mentioned is the passage in 2 Peter 3 5-13. Peter mentions the whole of history, in the heavens as created in the beginning, and then the heavens “dissolved” at the end. John, of course writing in the book of Revelation uses the word over 50 times applying all the different meanings already used in Scripture, ending with a new heaven and earth, a beautiful river, and the Tree of Life.

The most glorious usage of heaven is, of course the eternal home of the saints.  Heaven is still a place of ultimate comfort and rest for the believer and child of God, John 14:1-3.  This may not be the sha-maim of Genesis 1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth...” and it’s a good thing too, but it certainly is a “new” heaven because the first heaven has passed away, Revelation 21:1.


If we let the Bible itself speak...and get out of its way, we’ll all be just fine.


 

"That's My View From The Blackberry Patch Pulpit" 

-Pastor Tom Tuura