My wife and I enjoy power-walking together. At the end of our walk the other night, the sight of the full moon suspended in the dusky blue sky took my breath away. “How do it do that?” I jested to express my delight.
Of course, the moon is “up there” every night. Most nights it doesn’t catch my attention this way even though I probably have an above average appreciation for it. We enjoy camping and getaways to rural places so we’ve spent many a night around a fire ring drinking in the star- and moon-lit sky. I’ve spent many other moments hunched over my tripod mounted camera trying to capture a good shot of the moon on a particularly “glowy” night.
Thanks to modern astronomy and physics, we have more theories and answers to “How do it do that?” questions regarding the moon – answers that people of old didn’t have. Seeing how we who have those answers are still so captivated by the moon, it’s not too hard to understand the inclination for moon-wonder to turn into moon-worship. The Bible both acknowledges and warns against this line of logic.
And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. (Deuteronomy 4:19, ESV)
From Wonder to Worship – not such a stretch, really – quite natural, in fact. Life poses many questions looking for answers. Either we ignore the pull of those questions and just carry on without much thought about it all or we craft a plan of reasoning that makes the most sense to us. Ancient people drew from phenomena in nature, humanity and the heavens to craft religious ideology. They molded material into images to give their beliefs form and personality.
He burns part of the tree to roast his meat and to keep himself warm. He says, “Ah, that fire feels good.” 17 Then he takes what’s left and makes his god: a carved idol! He falls down in front of it, worshiping and praying to it. “Rescue me!” he says. “You are my god!” (Isaiah 44: 16-17; also see Habakkuk 2:18, NIV)
I love how verses like these recognize the inclinations of (us) people to make the wondrous nature that is around and above us into objects of worship. When you read “Bible,” think “God.” This is God acknowledging these inclinations and even having a little fun at the expense of the idol-crafter. But then he raises the bar by saying in other verses that God intends for creation to captivate and inspire people to wonder and to search for answers.
Here’s where being dedicated to a complete reading of the Bible really helps (vs. merely using parts to suit your purposes). Check out the passages below. God doesn’t just leave us there in our yard staring at the moon or in our campsite surrounded by a pristine forest wondering about nature’s mystery and majesty – and if and how we fit into it all. Creation is one of God’s own calling cards and the Bible is the printing on that card. (Think right brain AND left brain compliments of the maker of brains!)
Here is nature and creation pointing to God….
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1, ESV)
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, ESV)
And here God gets even more specific, plunking humanity into the mix and connecting all the dots together into a grand and intricate plan.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8: 3-4, NIV)
For this is what the Lord says –
he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited – he says: ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:18, NIV)
I am so grateful for this connectivity between my intellect and my heart – mind, body and soul. Beholding the wondrous moon during leisurely stroll in my neighborhood engages my being and reconnects me with our God.
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5, NIV; underlines added)
*Photo source: http://gbi.photoshelter.com/image/I00004vXtGK142TM
** Photo taken by Chris Wolschon during a short term mission trip we took together in 2011.