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Sermon 4/29/07
Psalm 8:3-4 - The Heavens

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The Heavens

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained. What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit Him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)

The words used for “heavens” in Scripture are interesting. In the Old Testament, it’s usually the Hebrew word “samayim” or “shamayim,” and in the Greek New Testament, it’s typically “ouranos.” The word for “heavens” is often used in Scripture like this: we’re on earth, in a low place, and the heavens are high above us.

Heaven” is used to denote the atmosphere, the place where birds and airplanes fly. As part of His Law to Israel, God said, “You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Deuteronomy 5:8). The word for “heaven” in that verse refers to the atmosphere we breathe.

The word “Shamayim” also speaks of the interstellar vastness of outer space, the realm in which the moon, planets, stars and galaxies are found. David, the author of Psalm 8 said: “When I consider (God’s shamayim), the work of (His) fingers, the moon and the stars…” Note, by the way, that creating the galaxies was as easy for God as finger-painting is for a child. Creation was effortless. He SPOKE and it was, as we can see in Genesis One.

The word “shamayim” also relates to the place where God is. You can catch a glimpse of this “heaven” in Scriptures like Psalm 11:4, where we read: “The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven.” It is what some have called, “the third heaven,” the place of God. Solomon called out to God in heaven after the death of his father, David. He prayed, “Hear in heaven, Your dwelling place, and when You hear, forgive” (1 Kings 8:30). God is in “heaven,” outside of our material universe; the place from which He forgives you and me.

The same idea continues into the New Testament. Jesus spoke of the “birds of the air,” in Matthew 6:26. The word translated “air” in that verse is “ouranos,” which literally means the “heavens.” The word “ouranos,” like its Hebrew equivalent, was used for the air, for the universe or for the place of God, depending on the context.

God created the heavens and all that is. A controversial, but interesting book called “Ministry of Healing” described the wonder of creation: “Sin has marred earth's beauty… Yet much that is beautiful remains. Nature testifies that One infinite in power, great in goodness, mercy, and love, created the earth, and filled it with life and gladness. Even in their blighted state, all things reveal the handiwork of the great Master Artist. Wherever we turn, we may hear the voice of God, and see evidences of His goodness. From the solemn roll of the deep-toned thunder and the ocean's ceaseless roar, to the glad songs that make the forests vocal with melody, nature's ten thousand voices speak His praise. In earth and sea and sky, with their marvelous tint and color, varying in gorgeous contrast or blended in harmony, we behold His glory. The everlasting hills tell us of His power. The trees that wave their green banners in the sunlight, and the flowers in their delicate beauty, point to their Creator. The living green that carpets the brown earth tells of God's care for the humblest of His creatures... the beauty that adorns the earth and lights up the heavens, speaks of God.

In that regard, “What is man that You are mindful of him?” today’s Scripture asks. Note that you are far more significant to God than you know. When you were a child, you may have recited a prayer at bedtime, like “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep;” God heard your prayer as a child, and He has answered your prayer many times and in many ways. In later years, when you cried, “Help me!” – He did!

Reverend Henry Ward Beecher was a minister of the 1800’s, and his life was controversial. Yet he seemed to have loved the Lord, and he saw that our lives have meaning. He wrote, “Nothing moves in this world that it does not exert an influence on the universe in some degree. The flight of a bird, the falling of a leaf to the earth, the vibration of a note, anything which causes the least impact, changes the whole universe, as streams that run to the sea and empty themselves into it change the sea, and change the channel from top to bottom. The sea roars and murmurs, and then wipes its brow, and is calm again; but it is never the same sea. The waves striking the shore, and retreating, never leave it as it was.

You may think you are NOT important, but if you hide in some obscure place and try to not encounter others, your very absence has its effect on this world. And God in heaven has a plan for you, which you will like if you trust Him and let Him unfold it for you.

When you trust in the Lord; when you place your faith in Him and let your destiny be His, you WILL go to heaven. That’s the promise in Scripture. Daniel the prophet was told that he would die, but then he would “rise again” to his “inheritance… at the end of the age,” when time as we know it will be over. (Daniel 12:13). It’s not only God’s promise to Daniel, but that same promise is extended to you, as well. Paul the apostle said, “We know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). We are offered life – forever.

Think about the “heavens” for a moment. If you go up into the “first heaven,” which is our atmosphere, you might temporarily escape certain troubles that are on the earth. For example, if you are in an airplane and an earthquake strikes, it will not immediately be a problem for you. If you manage to travel to some other planet or planetary system, and the earth is destroyed in some way, you’ve avoided that destruction. But to be high in the air or in outer space will not long protect you. Stars explode, including the one you may travel to, and as Peter said, “the heavens themselves will be dissolved, being on fire” (2 Peter 3:12). Only in the “third heaven,” the place of God, will you be safe.

Safety! That’s what people really want, and that’s what God wants for you, too. But some are afraid He might lead them to a place not of their choosing! We have tried to control even God’s plan for us in a vain attempt to feel – safe! Considering such unbelief, it is no wonder David called out, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit Him?” (Psalm 8:3-4). But trust in the Lord and you will find true safety – forever.

Lord, we trust in You now. We are safe. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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