“Is not God high in the heavens? See the highest stars, how lofty they are!”
My dad was a history teacher, who loved to travel. I was fortunate growing up. We traveled all over the world. Each summer we would go somewhere: drive across the USA or Canada, travel through Europe, Asia, or South America, all over. People will ask me when they hear about the experiences I’ve had, “Which is the most memorable?” I can’t really isolate one as the most preferred. There are various reasons why almost any of the places I’ve been can be the favorite: scenic beauty, historical significance, a lesson learned, people I’ve met, a particular food I’ve had, just plain fun, a restful spot, the list goes on and on.
There is one experience, though, which stays with me, every time I look up into the night sky… As a result, I am now disappointed whenever I look up into the night sky, because it made me realize what I normally cannot see. This experience was on one particular night that I had spent in the Amazon Jungle.
Back in the summer of 1986, my dad and I had gone down to South America for a few weeks. We traveled to Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. During our trip through Brazil, we stayed on a floating lodge, for 3 days, 50 miles into isolation on the Amazon River, outside of the city Manaus, where recently many of the World Cup Soccer matches were played. Of the many unique memories from just those 3 days in the Amazon Jungle, one night sticks out most often. It was the night that the guides from the lodge took us out onto a lake like tributary, in order to look at the stars.
I’ve gotta tell you. What I saw that night is difficult to describe. It just happened to be a crystal clear night, and the sky just popped with dots of color. That’s right, color. The stars have color. Yellow, blue, orange, green, you name it, they’re all there. We laid there in the motor boat for several hours, drifting with the engine off, just mesmerized by the display.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.”
This verse could not be any more true. The heavens really do declare God’s glory. That night, I saw His handiwork, and it took my breath away.
The sad thing about it is that I’ll probably never get to experience that again, nor will my children ever get such an opportunity. With everything as built up as it is today, it is really tough to get somewhere where there is zero light pollution. You can’t get much better than the middle of the Amazon Jungle. Here on Long Island, where I live, it’s pretty tough to even see the Milky Way. In fact, I don’t ever recall ever being able to see the Milky Way here on Long Island. We are lucky if we can make out Orion’s Belt or the Big Dipper. And when we do, it just doesn’t have the thrill it should.
Man has veiled God’s glory in many ways: the dumping of garbage and toxins into the oceans, water supply and land, littering, over fishing, land development, the release of toxins into the atmosphere, etc. “Light pollution” has made it nearly impossible to now appreciate the night sky, making the Psalms which refer to God’s handiwork (such as Psalm 19:1 referenced above), almost cryptic. Man’s veiling of God’s glory has robbed man of opportunities to experience God’s creation the way it was intended to be experienced. No longer is Job’s appeal, “Is not God high in the heavens? See the highest stars, how lofty they are!”, as obvious a means of verifying that God is there, as it once was.
But, does that give man excuse, according to Romans 1? Well, that depends if you are a mediate thinker, or an immediate thinker.
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 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.”
The mediate thinker reads Romans 1 with the presupposition that man is without excuse because of what has been shown to him through the creation. But my question is, since man has veiled what is to be perceived, then there must be an excuse to some degree, no? I mean, how can man be “without excuse” when what should be “clearly perceived”, cannot be clearly perceived?
The immediate thinker reads Romans 1 with the presupposition that man is without excuse, because, as an image bearer of God, man knows by default that God is there and that he has violated His purpose (sinned), and that the creation simply verifies what is already known by default. The point is, whether God’s glory is veiled or not, it doesn’t matter. Man is without excuse because man is an image bearer of God. The creation just verifies the default knowledge which man already has.
I’m an immediate, presuppositional thinker. Therefore, I will never assume that those whom I evangelize need any proof that God exists. God has already written on their hearts all that they need to know… to convict them of their sin against God.
“For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”
Whatever the evangelized see or don’t see in the creation, it doesn’t matter. We (Christians) do not need to prove anything to them regarding His existence and their culpability to Him. God has already revealed such to them “immediately.” Praise God, for removing this pressure from us!
Our job is to proclaim the truth, not prove it.
Godspeed, to the brethren!
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