Study Guide: Marvelous Light

Sunday November 27, 2016 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

In the sermon this week Greg reflects on how the heavens tell of the glory of God. The vast and beautiful universe, bigger than the human mind can conceive, points to a marvelous creator. This same awe-inspiring creator is the one that became human to love and save all of humanity.

Extended Summary:

Greg opened the sermon with Psalm 19:1-4 which speaks of the heavens telling of the glory of God. The heavens speak knowledge about God that we can learn. This is further explored in the book of Job. Job accuses God of being unjust, while Job’s friends argue that Job must have done something wrong to bring his sufferings upon himself. However, when God speaks He explains that Job and his friends know so little of creation. God goes on to ask Job, “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt?” Here God is saying that humans understand so little of creation and they cannot bind the stars. God enters into Job’s ancient worldview and questions him of what he understands to point out that if he can’t even understand the basics of creation how could he understand the complexity of the problem of evil.

In Job’s time the questions God asks would have seems unanswerable, but from our modern perspective we have learned much more about how creation works. So, to understand what God is getting at for Job and his audience we must do a modern paraphrase and explore the grander of creation.

In the ancient world before lights deluded the visibility of stars in the night sky, people would look up at a beautiful display of stars and galaxies. They traced constellations like Orion. Ancient people thought stars were gods set in the dome of the sky about two to three miles above the earth.

Today we now know that the universe is inconceivably vast. You could fit a million earths into our sun, and our sun is small compared to much larger stars like Rigel and Canis Majoris. You could fit millions of suns into these much larger stars. When you look up at the night sky, what appear to be stars are oftentimes galaxies, containing billions and billions of stars.

The universe is not only filled with innumerable stars, that make our sun looks small, but it is also incomprehensibly vast. Light travels faster than anything else in the physical universe. A light year is the distance light will travel in a year or 6 trillion miles. Proxima Centauri is the closest star and it is 4.243 light years away from earth. That means that it would take 81,000 years traveling on a modern rocket ship to get there.

The universe is incredibly vast with the know universe stretching 95 billion light years. However, the universe is thought to be expanding. One estimate places the number of stars in the universe at 300 sextillion. We live in the Milky Way, which is 100,000 light years across. At this point we should all be feeling very small! We are inconceivably small in comparison to such a large and magnificent universe. The heavens declare the glory of God. All of this beautiful creation points to God.

The universe speaks to God’s transcendence and testifies to God. God created everything and holds it all in existence with His word. So, if this universe is so amazing, how much more amazing is the God that created it all? What is most amazing is that the God that created everything is that same God that cares about us and went so far as to become one of us.

If we are not careful we can lose perspective on the wonderfulness and transcendence of God. Greg shared an experience of seeing the Northern lights. He said that as amazing as they were they were just a small reflection of the glory of God who created them. This brought about worship in him. Worship is just the reaction of awe and wonder we have to our good God. Be careful not to let the day-to-day squeeze the awe and wonder out of you. Greg encouraged carving out space to rejoice in the wonder of God.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Have you ever had a moment of wonder and awe? What was the experience like? What prompted it? What might this experience tell you about God?
  2. Take a moment to think about creation: the vastness of the universe, the beauty of the stars, and the complexity of life. What sticks out to you as reflective of God’s character and glory in creation?
  3. After considering the glory of God displayed in creation, what does it say to you that the same God that created the wonder of the heavens became human to save and love you?