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Keeper of the Stars

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted May 8, 2014

RELIGION – The other week I was riding in my car in silence trying to pray. Prayer is work for me. I enjoy it, but it does not come natural to me. For some, prayer is an effortless conversation with God, but my mind bounces from one person and need to another. My wife calls it ADD. One of my greatest foes to prayer is music. When I pray, my mind hits “shuffle” on every song I have ever heard. One this one occasion the song that came to my mind was an old country song from the early 90’s “I tip my hat to the keeper of the stars” by Tracy Byrd.

This song is a great romantic ballad that notes how the singer is thankful to God, who he describes as “the keeper of the stars.”  He sings “I tip my hat to the keeper of the stars. He sure knew what he was doin'. When he joined these 2 hearts. I hold everything. When I hold you in my arms I've got all I'll ever need. Thanks to the keeper of the stars.“

Now I never thought I would thank Tracy Byrd for helping me in prayer, but I began to think about that idea of calling God “the keeper of the stars.”  Then I was reminded of Isaiah 40:25-26 "To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?" asks the Holy One. 26 Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out one after another, calling each by its name. And he counts them to see that none are lost or have strayed away.

Isaiah was writing to God’s people who were in exile and were seeing that much of pagan religion worshiped astrological phenomena. Isaiah makes it clear here that only Israel’s God is worthy of worship, for he created, controls, and preserves what the pagans foolishly worship. The Israelites in that day would have only been able to count 5,000 stars, if they had the time and desire to do so.

But the reality is that Astronomers now estimate that there are more than 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, and that there are 125 billion galaxies in the universe. The total number of stars is estimated at 1x1022 or 10 billion trillions. Put a 1 on paper and keep writing zeros until your hand cramps and you will not even be close to that number! Moreover, the God who created all of these, the Holy One of Israel, even calls them all of the billion trillion stars by name and is responsible to see to it that that “none are lost or have strayed away.”
The implication that Isaiah draws out is that such a God will surely never forget even one of His people. So because of that people think about God and people in turn compare God to things or ideas to try and get a grasp on the enormity of God.  The verse has God asking “To whom then will you compare me?” The reality is that saints and poets through the centuries have all been haunted by the awareness that there is literally no one, or no thing, to which we can compare God.  He is by definition incomparable!

Yes Scripture affirms that, God is like a shepherd, like a father, or like a fortress.  But each time we say that, we must guard our words because God is beyond any comparison.  Each time we rightly affirm that “God is love”, we must also admit that God loves in ways beyond our comprehension.  Elsewhere Isaiah cautions us in what we might think about God or say about Him: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than your ways and God’s thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

Think about what this means for us? Augustine wrote:  “We are talking about God.  What wonder is it that you do not understand?  If you do understand, then it is not God.” Thomas Aquinas, wrote that “And this is the highest knowledge of God in this life, that we know Him to be above every thought that we are able to think of Him.”

This is not to say that we can know nothing of God. R.C. Sproul writes that the “The incomprehensibility of God does not mean that we know nothing about God.  Rather, it means that our knowledge is partial and limited, falling short of total or comprehensive knowledge.  The knowledge that God gives of Himself through revelation is both real and useful.  We can know God to the degree that He chooses to reveal Himself.  The finite can "grasp" the infinite, but the finite can never hold the infinite within its grasp.  There is always more of God than we apprehend.”) Essential Truths of the Christian Faith by R. C. Sproul, p. 32)

What this means is that while God's ways will frequently baffle us but God's will is sufficiently clear to lead us in the meantime.  God's ways may not be clear but His Word is clear enough for us to know what obedience requires.  We may wait to understand God's providence but we already have God's Word, and that is all we need for the moment.

So know that God is bigger than any thoughts we have of Him, any theologies, systems, or doctrines we have ever learned or taught.  Be assured that God answers prayers “abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:22).And, that together with all believers, we must keep striving “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19).

Thankful that “the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!  Romans 11:33

Pastor Phillip

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