Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.
Thomas Chisolm “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”
As a young child, I can remember looking in awe at a beautiful sunset and my mother telling me that God was an amazing artist. Men could only copy what God painted everyday in the sky. The variety of colors, the variance of light from season to season–no man has ever been able to create (out of nothing) anything so beautiful.
I also remember a young preacher telling me about an experience he had while watching a gorgeous San Diego sunset over the Pacific. A variety of people were watching the sunset, and as he heard all the “oohs” and “ahhs” he mischievously blurted out, “It’s amazing how all this happened by accident!” Everyone present began to emphatically contradict him. “How can you say such a thing?!” and, “How can you deny there is a higher power when you see something like this?!” Of course, he himself didn’t believe that it had occurred by accident. His point to us youngsters was this: it is very hard for people to witness something so awesome and flat out deny its source.
From my youth until now, I have always been drawn to nature as a reminder of God’s wisdom and power. It has testified to me time and time again that God is the creator and that nature was not the result of some random accident. When I was thirteen, I was faced with a science teacher who told our class, “people that believe in God are stupid!” and proceeded to throw all sorts of “evidence” in our faces (some of which is no longer used as evidence in science texts because it has been discredited). Even at that young, influential stage in my life, I could not shake the conviction that God was and is the creator. I had seen enough of nature to understand and believe.
When I reread the lyrics to the song, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, a very obvious truth occurred to me: The testimony of the earth and the rest of the universe isn’t limited to God’s wisdom and power. The earth and skies also testify of God’s faithfulness and consistency.
Even in my brief stint on the earth, I have never observed a season skipped. Occasionally there are freak snow storms in Summer or heat spells in winter, but they are always preceded or followed by the correct weather patterns. Animals hibernate in the same pattern, trees and plants go dormant in keeping with the seasons according to their design. Ancient secular documents testify to these truths as well. The seasons are orderly and have always been so. We rely on their approach year after year. Our God is a God of order, we can rely on Him as surely as we rely on hot summers days and cold winter nights.
The Sun, Moon and Stars.
These three bodies each follow consistent predictable patterns that humans have relied on for centuries.
The earth orbits the sun every 365.242199 days. Even when you don’t see the sunrise with your own eyes, the sky lightens and you have greater visibility during the daytime hours.
The earth is tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees. Without that tilt, we wouldn’t have the seasons that we are familiar with. Mathematicians and scientists have analyzed these numbers, patterns and cycles for years and they know everything works with precision and certainty. Likewise, the phases of the moon are so reliable, they are printed on a calendar a year in advance!
What do all these witnesses tell us about God? Is he a God who is whimsical? Capricious? Scatterbrained?
Is our God so orderly and careful that we can count on Him as much as we count on the rising and setting of the sun?
The Manifold Witness of Nature.
All of nature–the trees, the water cycle, the rocks, the animals, the chemicals, all the way down to atomic structure–testify of God’s “faithfulness, mercy, and love.” The song says, “sun, moon and stars…join with all nature in manifold witness.” Yeah, I don’t speak car either, but in this context, manifold means “multiple.” God doesn’t just rely on the Bible to testify of Him. He didn’t rely solely on a few good men to be His witnesses. There is overwhelming testimony to God’s faithfulness. He exists. He is powerful. He is Wise. Artistic… Even… humorous (ever seen a duck-billed platypus?)
People are constantly trying to shout down God. The constant refrain that “there is no evidence of God” is like a child putting its hands over its ears and shouting, “I can’t hear you!” (If they can’t hear, then why do they plug their ears and make lots of noise?)
God has placed evidence of His faithfulness before our very eyes.
We are prone to doubt. It’s a part of our human condition. God calls us to be stronger than that. He asks us to have faith and He does not leave us without any reassurance. When you begin to doubt that God is a faithful, orderly, unchanging God, look up! Look at the sky! The sun testifies. The moon testifies. The stars testify.
They testify this: You can count on God. His coming is as sure as the dawn.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the earth.
In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
~Psalm 19:1-6 ESV, emphasis mine
When you read the text from Psalm 19, notice the personification given to the heavens. They “declare,” they “proclaim” they “pour out speech” and “their words [go out] to the end of the world.” Even when men and women lived without the Bible, they were not without evidence that Someone exists who is greater than themselves. The sky cries out!
My dear friends be thankful that our God has provided for us such overwhelming testimony to His existence and His constant nature. The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. He is still in control now and He always will be.
Do not allow man nor circumstance to destroy your trust in Him. Look up! Let the heavenly bodies be a reminder to you. Look up and have hope. God is faithful and He will be with you to your journey’s end and beyond.