By David Faust
You may not have heard of a nineteenth-century English poet named Jane Taylor, but I’m certain you can quote some lyrics she wrote. Her poem “The Star” appeared in 1806 in a book called Rhymes for the Nursery. It has six stanzas, but the poem is best known for its first verse: “Twinkle, twinkle, little star. How I wonder what you are!”
Children aren’t the only ones who stare at the night sky with awe. Astronomers and songwriters do too. Frustrated dieters even came up with an adult version of the song that changes “twinkle” to “Twinkie,” and another parody says, “Twinkle, twinkle, little pie; You squash my willpower like a fly.” A children’s book called the Astronomically Correct Twinkle Twinkle includes lines like “Twinkle, twinkle little star; You must be a small pulsar.”
“He also made the stars”
What we call twinkling is technically “astronomical oscillation” or “astronomical scintillation”—phrases that don’t lend themselves to poetry. In case you’re wondering, stars twinkle but planets don’t. Planets are relatively close to Earth, but starlight has to travel such long distances that atmospheric turbulence causes it to refract or bend, which from our perspective makes the stars seem to move slightly.
Genesis 1:16 nonchalantly states, “He also made the stars”—as if to the Almighty it wasn’t that big of a deal to create them. Yet they’re fascinating to us.
Stars inspire us with their beauty. Their soft glow moves us to write love songs and to ponder our place in the universe. When David considered the moon and the stars, he wondered, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them?” (Psalm 8:3, 4). Abraham Lincoln said that beholding the stars made him feel like he was “looking into the face of God.” He observed, “I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.”
Stars baffle us with their immensity. Those twinkling lights aren’t “little stars”—they’re enormous. Our sun is about 109 times larger than the earth, but it’s actually a small star; every other star visible to the naked eye is bigger and brighter. The next nearest star to Earth (a faint red dwarf star called Proxima Centauri) is about 25 trillion miles away.
Stars are incalculable in their quantity—more than we can count. A typical galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars, and it’s estimated that there are more than 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe.
“Look up at the sky”
On a starry night long ago the Lord spoke to an aging fellow named Abram who, along with his wife Sarai, longed to be a parent. God escorted him outside and said, “‘Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be’” (Genesis 15:5). The stars illustrated the mind-boggling, faith-stretching idea that a childless old man would become the patriarch of a great nation with too many descendants to count. Abram believed, and God kept his promise.
The stars ought to stir our faith. Those diamonds in the sky serve as constant reminders of the awesome power of the one we dare to call Father.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
|Feb. 29||M.||Genesis 15:1-6||Faithful God|
|March 1||T.||Genesis 50:15-21||Saving God|
|March 2||W.||Isaiah 43:5-13||Eternal God|
|March 3||T.||Matthew 9:27-33||Healing God|
|March 4||F.||John 5:19-24||Forgiving God|
|March 5||S.||John 6:35-40||Fulfilling God|
|March 6||S.||Mark 9:14-29||Powerful God|