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The Womb of Nightglow
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“Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion? Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the earth? “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that an abundance of water may cover you?"  (Job 38:31-34).

If the weather is clear, go outside tonight. Look up at the night sky. What can you see?

Do you live in or near a city? You should be able to pick out the major stars of Orion, and – depending on the time – the Big Dipper. The planets – if you know where they are – are visible as spots in the sky. That is about it.

If you have sharp eyes, you might be able to find some lesser constellations – Polaris and the guard stars at the ends of the Little Dipper; the bright stars in Gemini or maybe Cassiopeia and Cephus; possibly Cygnus, the Northern Cross. The Milky Way? Forget about it.

Even in a rural area, you see many fewer stars than someone who lived in Rome or Jerusalem during the life of Christ – or even 250 years ago. As late as the 1700s big observatories were located inside major cities like London and Paris.

The Culprit is Progress

The culprit is progress – electricity. There are so many lights on at night that they block out the stars. Not just in the city, but dozens of miles away. Yet city lights, with their ability to hide the glories of the heavens lack the strength to truly illuminate. The dark is still there.

Electricity, like natural gas heating and cooking or modern water and sewer systems make our lives better in many ways. Huddling around a campfire for warmth and light is romantic only as long as it is optional.

Modern conveniences create an odd paradox, though. We have more power and are more widely traveled than the ancients, but our horizons are much, much nearer. They might have traveled only fifty miles from home during a lifetime, but they could see the heavens – immeasurably far away. They saw how a small part of the universe Earth was.

We, on the other hand, think nothing of driving 1000 miles on a vacation. But when we look up? The stars – except for a few dozen – are gone. The bowl of the sky has shrunk. Lights from aircraft only a few miles up define our boundaries.

Cuddled in a womb of nightglow, we are cut off from the majesty of the heavens. Living in a smaller universe than our ancestors, we imagine that it is we that have grown larger.  Today we command the thunderbolts of Jupiter, the speed of Mercury; so many act as if we have become gods. The true God is forgotten.

Are you falling into that trap? On the next clear weekend take a long drive out into the country, away from the city. Find a spot away from manmade lights. Let twilight come, and watch the sky – and remember Him that made that the glory.

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Written by Mark N. Lardas, copyright 2006, Mark N. Lardas, all rights reserved.  Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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