The Universe and Man
Isaiah 40:26
Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who has created these things, that brings out their host by number…

These words remind us of an incident in the life of the first Napoleon. On board the ship which carried him across the Mediterranean to him campaign in Egypt, there were French savants who had convinced themselves, and thought they could convince others, that there is no God. The great commander found them discoursing boastfully on their favourite theme, and, calling them upon deck, while the heavens above were bright with innumerable stars, he said to them, "Tell me who made these." Napoleon was no philosopher, no metaphysician, no theologian. But he was a man of great common sense. We are not content to be told conjecturally of any processes through which things have passed into their present forms of existence. Nebular hypotheses and atomic theories explain nothing. If assumed as true, we demand to know whence the nebulae and whence the atoms came. Nor are we content to be cheated out of an answer to the question, "Who made these?" by a metaphysics which ends by leaving us in doubt as to whether these stars have any existence except in our own thoughts and thought-processes. There was a time when the children of men, lifting up their eyes on high, saw in the hosts of heaven not creatures of God, but gods. And we scarcely wonder. The living God once forsaken and forgotten, who or what so worthy of adoration as sun, moon, and stars?

I. IT IS THIS OLDER FAITH WE FIND IN OUR TEXT — not obscurely, but with the positiveness of knowledge. And it is not in this text alone, but horn the beginning to the end of our Bible. Its writers, in succession to one another, explicitly maintain the faith of a living God, Maker and Ruler of all And in doing so, they stood alone in the world. The wisdom of Egypt and the wisdom of Assyria gave them no countenance. The teaching of these Hebrew writers, through all the ages, from Moses to Christ, is like a pure crystal stream flowing through a vast desert, unabsorbed by sand or sun, and undefiled by the ten thousand impurities on its banks. The old Hebrew faith stands as firmly in the light of modern science as it did when science in its modern sense was a thing almost unknown. Sir Isaac Newton, in closing his exposition of the system of the universe, worshipped and declared that its cause could not be mechanical; it must be intelligent, it must be found in a voluntary agent infinitely wise and mighty. But while these men of the old Hebrew race knew less of the vastness of the universe than we do now, they did not feel it less. The man of science, with his telescope and mathematical reckonings, must feel himself utterly bewildered when he attempts to imagine the distances which his demonstrations reveal But it does not follow that his impression of that vastness, or his awe in the contemplation of it, is in proportion to his knowledge. A child, with a true child's heart, may be more deeply impressed with the glory of the over-hanging heavens, than a full-grown man who exercises all his intellectual power in endeavouring to understand them. The Hebrews knew enough and saw enough to produce the profoundest feeling. Perhaps the chief explanation of the feeling with which the Hebrews contemplated nature is that they saw God in everything.

II. THIS IS THE SECOND POINT TO WHICH OUR TEXT INTRODUCES US. "He calleth them all by names by the greatness of His might; for that He is strong in power not one faileth." But what of the laws of nature? The Hebrew Scriptures, instead of denying the constancy of nature, seem to affirm it more consistently than some modern scientists. Take, e.g., these primitive statements: "God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth; and it was so. And God saw that it was good. But the Bible, While explicit in regard to the constancy of nature, asserts with equal explicitness a continued Divine agency in nature (Psalm 104:14; John 5:17).

III. ALL THIS IS MADE THE FOUNDATION OF AN ARGUMENT OF COMFORT PRIMARILY TO THE ANCIENT ISRAEL OF GOD, AND EQUALLY TO ALL THE SPIRITUAL ISRAEL. "Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel?" etc. Galileo approached this idea, whether he got it from Isaiah or not, in a very significant form. "I would not that we should so shorten the arm of God in the government of human affairs, but that we should rest in this, that we are certain that God and nature are so occupied in the government of human affairs, they could not more attend to us if they were charged with the care of the human race alone." The prophet goes a step beyond this, and draws an argument from God's care over the universe to assure us of His care over us. Christ said, "Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" But the prophet seems to argue from God's care over the greater to His care over the less. As if he said, He watches over suns and stars, therefore He will watch over you. More than this, the Bible story of creation gives us the keynote of the Bible idea of man. Man is not merely one of innumerable living creatures made to people the earth; the earth was made for him. He was the end for which and towards which progressive changes, spread over vast ages, were effected. Glorious as that star may be, and wonderingly as I contemplate its brightness, I am more to God than it is; I am nearer of kin to God than it is; and if God cares for it, much more will He care for me, His own child.

(J. Kennedy, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

WEB: Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these, who brings out their army by number. He calls them all by name. by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power, Not one is lacking.

The Heavens Testily of God
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