One day Moses said to the Lord, "Shew me thy glory" (Ex 33.18). But that glory in all its fullness was more than any man could see (v.20). Moses was therefore hidden in the cleft of the rock while God made His glory to "pass by".
Glory means superb splendour and majesty, shining brightness and beauty, ultimate blessedness and magnificence, deserved honour and renown, sheer perfection and flawless excellence. Such glory belongs to God alone.
Like Moses we could never comprehend it all. But God has revealed it to us:
in the church – the glory of His sovereign grace (Eph 1.6);
in the nation of Israel – the glory of His unchanging purpose (Is 46.13);
in the Scriptures – the glory of His perfect law (Ps 19.7);
in Christ – the glory of His only begotten Son (Jn 1.14);
in creation – the glory of His amazing wisdom and power (Ps 19.1).
Let's reflect on creation's pointers to the glory of God.
Creation's immensity reveals God's unmeasurable power. Look up into the dark sky some night. Try to take in the vastness of the universe full of bright stars and distant swirling galaxies, mind-boggling numbers of light years away from us.
The amount of material out there is unmeasurable, and so is the amount of energy. Our sun alone has an output of energy so huge that, again, the numbers are baffling – you can't meaningfully put it into megawatts or gigawatts. And there are many stars like the sun, some many times brighter, some so huge that half of the whole solar system could fit inside them. One such is Betelgeuse which you can see in the top left hand corner of the constellation of Orion, a "red supergiant" 640 light years distant. It is 7,500 times brighter than our sun, 700 million miles in diameter (Wikipedia, Betelgeuse). To us the stars are innumerable, yet God has counted them all and knows their names (Is 40.26).
Where did all this staggering amount of energy and material come from? Just remember, that "by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth" (Col 1.16). Think about it, and it gives a fresh meaning to the phrase "Almighty God". Say and sing with the spirit and with the understanding, "How great Thou art!".
Turn now from the supremely large and distant for which we need telescopes, to the invisibly small and nearby, so small that it is work for a microscope. Creation's complexity reveals God's unsearchable wisdom. Examine living cells and you discover something more amazing than stars and planets. They are just whirling spheres of matter mostly at sizzling temperatures, totally lifeless. But tiny cells, the basic building blocks of every creature, are themselves living, and have an intricate structure which is extremely complex. And they are numerous – it has been calculated that in the human brain alone there are more cells than there are stars in the Milky Way – around 100 billions of them, communicating with other ones while we try to think and remember!
Cells are mostly the factories of living organisms. They have a nucleus where genetic information is held, DNA coded instructions for the manufacture of proteins, for example, and for their own replication. To make one protein, more than 75 different substances are needed in the cell – in the right concentrations, in the right proportions, and at the right time. And on average a new protein is produced in a cell every four minutes. In an average cell, to make it live and replicate there are billions of non-living components. By comparison, in a jumbo jet to make it fly there are (only) a few million non-flying parts. The complexity of these building blocks of life is fascinating and more amazing than ever.
The individual components of the cell (and everything else) are molecules, clusters of atoms bonded together according to the laws of chemistry. Each molecule (although you can't see it) is a beautiful, elegant structure with its own size, shape and function. The component atoms are not just simple units either – they too have a sub-structure – electrons flying at great speed around a central nucleus which itself contains protons and neutrons, which in turn have a substructure difficult to explain – the recently discovered(?) Higgs boson is in there somewhere!
Now where did all this intriguing complexity come from, on such an infinitesimal scale? From the same origin as the almost infinitely large universe! "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" (Rom 11.33-34).
Everything celestial and terrestrial follows unchanging cycles of order and constancy. The universe and all of nature are not chaotic, or else we could not live our lives safely. The regularity of sunrise and sunset, tidal ebb and flow, monthly new moon and full moon, annual solstices and equinoxes, the coming and going of the seasons of the year, the accuracy of the atomic clock – all are so regular that tables, diaries and calendars can be prepared many years in advance knowing that the information won't change and become useless. We can depend upon it to help us order our lives. Creation's constancy reveals God's eternal reliability.
Read Psalm 19.1-6, and all of Psalm 104 to get a beautiful snapshot of this regularity; on the earth and in the sea, among the flora and fauna of nature, in the very cycles of life and death – all so predictable. Great scientists of past centuries discovered the fixed laws which govern all this – planetary motion by Keppler, thermodynamics by Newton, Kelvin and others, biogenesis by Pasteur, and so on. But these unbreakable, reliable laws are God's, for with Him there is "no variableness, neither shadow of turning". He is "the same, yesterday, today and forever".
Variety and Beauty
Creation also reveals God's majestic grandeur. Variety and beauty are everywhere – in lifeless stars and falling snowflakes, in living organisms and single cells, in plants and creatures on land and sea, and people all over the earth - no two are the same! We can discern and enjoy all the varied colours, shapes, sounds, smells and feelings. How do you feel when you examine a daffodil or a rose, or listen to a skylark or a blackbird singing, or watch a sunset? Our Creator loves beauty and so He has given to us the ability to appreciate beauty and feel moved by it as no other creature is. He has also gifted people with the ability to create beautiful things! In this way too, we are made in the image of God.
We read that God has made everything beautiful in its time (Eccl 3.11). In the beginning He saw that everything He made was good, yes very good (Gen 1.31). Although the Fall has doubtless diminished it, that beauty lingers wherever you look. Next time just think, "O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches" (Ps 104.24). He could have made everything in dull grey monochrome, or so big that we could not reach it, or so small that we could never notice it. But He made it as it is - and us as we are with our abilities to examine, explore, look and learn – and to worship Him "in the beauty of holiness".
Creation's steady testimony reveals God's supreme authority. The latter half of Romans 1 makes very sad reading. The depravity of mankind, including "civilised" mankind, stems from a deliberate rejection of what has been revealed and can be "clearly seen" in the world around and in the skies above. The greatness of God, His very existence, is demonstrated in a way that everyone everywhere can see.
But to negate it, aggressive atheism promotes the extended theory of evolution through the educational system, the popular media, the scientific press and everywhere else. They reject the revelation, manipulate the evidence, corrupt the truth, and come to hate the Creator. They also attempt to silence and ridicule those who would try to stem the tide. This is their not-so-hidden agenda which you discover if you look and listen. The disastrous consequences are already evident all around us in this life, and, alas, there are greater ones in the life to come. The coming wrath of God is not undeserved (Rom 1.18). And they are "without excuse".
As for ourselves, let us not fail to give glory to God for all He has created. We can even see there reflections of what He has also done for us and in us. For we are -
• kept by the greatness of His power,
• blessed by the wisdom of His purpose,
• preserved by the reliability of His promises,
• enriched by evidences of His grandeur,
• guided by the authority of His Word.