The Skies Speak Forth God

Dr. Brian Allison

What do you think is the most prominent attribute of God, as revealed in the Scriptures? I suggest to you that the most prominent attribute of God, as revealed in the Scriptures, is that of 'speaking'. Time and time again, God is presented and portrayed as the 'speaking God'. Are you amazed at that fact? We ought to be amazed. The eternal, infinite God who created the universe is a speaking God. The speaking of God assumes different forms, but He is always speaking. The issue is not whether God is speaking or not, the issue is whether we are hearing this God Who is always speaking. Let us briefly consider the creational speaking of God, the fact that God speaks through His creation. Psalm 19:1 reads, "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands."

The skies proclaim God

The Psalmist uses the literary device of personification in penning these words; that is, he applies human characteristics to an inanimate object or reality, and in this case, the heavens and the firmament. The heavens tell something, and the expanse declare something. But further, the Psalmist uses the Hebrew literary device of parallelism, that is, he pens parallel statements in which the second statement echoes the sentiments of the first. He repeats himself, as it were, but in the repetition, a subtle nuance of difference emerges in order to more sharply, and didactically, convey his meaning. Thus, the activity performed by the expanse parallels, and supplements, the activity performed by the heavens.

The notion of the 'heavens' points to the whole of that which is above the earth and its bodies of water. It includes the earth's atmosphere, as well as outer space. The heavens include the planets, the stars, the sun, the moon, the comets, the blackholes, etc. And so the Psalmist exclaims elsewhere, "When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, [more particularly] the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?" (Ps. 8:3,4).

The notion of the 'expanse' or the 'firmament' is a specific understanding of the heavens – extended air and space, intrinsically void of water, perceptually speaking. This inclusive relationship between the expanse and heavens is clearly brought out in Genesis 1, "Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens'" (v. 14); "And let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens" (v. 15); "And God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night" (v. 17). Now, for all intents and purposes, the expanse, the firmament, is generally identified with the earthly heaven. And so, in Genesis 1:8, we read, "And God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day." Hence, generally speaking, when we consider the expanse, the firmament, we have in view, similarly, earth's atmosphere and the space beyond; or, if you like, we are simply considering the sky – the sky which assumes an azure colour by day, and blackness, dotted by countless illuminaries, by night. According to the Genesis account, the sun and the moon are placed 'in the firmament'. And, of course (as mentioned), the Biblical authors have adopted a perceptual perspective, rather than a scientific one – 'up there' in the sky is the sun, 'up there' in the sky is the moon, 'up there' in the sky are the stars; and they together are declaring the work of God's hands.

Now, the Psalmist, in poetic fashion, identifies these magnificent and immense realities of the heavens and the firmament as the heralders of God. The heavens and the firmament do not speak about God, but their very presence is the actual speaking forth of God. The heavens themselves are a telling of the glory of God, the firmament itself is a declaration of the works of His hands. They themselves are the very 'content' of the proclaiming of God, phenomenally speaking. In a very real sense, the heavens and the firmament are not simply the ordained messengers of God, but they are the very messages of God. The existence of the sky is the wordless speech of God, speaking forth God's person.

When you look up into the sky, do you hear God speaking, not audibly, but intuitively? God has not left Himself without witness. When you leave your homes to travel to some destination, and you gaze upon the sky, do you hear His voice? Do you hear (which, in this sense, is also to see) His glory? Do you intuitively acknowledge His Creatorship? The sky is like a musical symphony, sounding forth and reverberating the divine glory.

The skies proclaim God's power

That term 'glory', in the original language, simply means burden or weight, something 'heavy'. And so 'glory', when attributed to a person, is something that signifies 'heaviness' or 'weight' in reference to character, nature, or state. Thus, the term refers to or implies power and strength. Accordingly, in Psalm 3:3, the Psalmist affirms, "But Thou, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory [my strength, my power], and the One who lifts my head [especially in times of weariness, and weakness]." Simply put then, 'glory' attributed to a person refers to one's distinguishing greatness, excellence, or superiority. For instance, Psalm 49:16, 17 reads, "Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not descend after him."

More specifically, when we think of a person's 'glory', we are considering one's distinguishing greatness, excellence, or superiority which invites or evokes recognition, esteem, praise, or even wonder. And so we give one glory – praise – in response to some admirable trait, feature, or accomplishment. Thus, another translation of the original word, from which we get the term 'glory', is that of 'honour'. Accordingly, Psalm 4:2 reads, "O sons of men, how long will my honour [i.e., glory] become a reproach? How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?" The Psalmist refers to the same thought in Psalm 7:5, but there the term 'glory' stands in the translation, "Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it; and let him trample my life down to the ground, and lay my glory [or honour] in the dust."

And so Psalm 19:1 reads, "The heavens are telling of the glory of God." Do you appreciate what the text is saying? The heavens herald the greatness, the excellence, the superiority of God. The heavens themselves are the wordless speech, the patent expression, of God's personal power and strength. Is it any wonder then that the Psalmist pens the words in Psalm 24:7, in doxological fashion, "Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle."

Do you hear the heavens telling of God's power? When you look up into the sky, do you hear, that is, recognize or perceive the power of God? A number of years ago, I was driving back from London, Ontario, at night, and I gazed up into the sky. It was a clear night; the sky was dotted with innumerable stars. I remember being awestruck at the sight. How utterly amazing, I thought, that God had created these stars. Do you know that there are billions and billions of stars in the universe, and that we only see a small percentage of the countless myriad? Our sun is one star in the vast universe. The closest star to our sun is 4.3 light years away – Proxima Centauri. It is amazing to think that our sun, the closest star to us, is only average in size and in temperature in comparison with all the billions and billions of stars in the universe. And yet, astoundingly, our sun is 330,000 times bigger in mass than the earth. God created our sun and all the stars by His awesome power – "The heavens are [indeed] telling of the glory of God." Do you hear the voice of God in the sun?...in the stars?...in the clouds?...in the moon? His stamp of authorship is on His creation; and that stamp is God Himself.

The skies proclaim God's wisdom

The skies proclaim not only God's power, but also His wisdom – "And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands." The 'work of His hands' refers to God's creative wisdom. He is the divine Craftsman. The Psalmist captures this thought – that the creation is an expression of His handiwork – in Psalm 104, "Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with splendour and majesty, covering Thyself with light as with a cloak, stretching out heaven like a tent curtain. He lays the beam of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind; He makes the winds His messengers, flaming fire His ministers" (vv. 1-4). And in summary fashion, the Psalmist further writes, "O LORD, how many are Thy works! In wisdom Thou hast made them all; the earth is full of Thy possessions" (v. 24). The sky announces the craftsmanship of God, pointed out here by the Psalmist as epitomizing divine wisdom.

Now, I know that the Psalmist was not thinking in scientific terms, but let me present to you a 'wise' fact about the sky, the earth's atmosphere, in order that you may appreciate the wisdom actually revealed in the firmament. The earth's atmosphere consists of 5 ascending spheres: the troposphere, the stratosphere, the mesosphere, the thermosphere, and the exosphere. The stratosphere, ranging from about 15 kilometres to about 50 kilometres above the earth, contains oxygen. The sun emits ultraviolet radiation, which is destructive both for plant life and animal life. When the ultraviolet radiation from the sun reaches the stratosphere, it dissociates the molecular oxygen, O2, into atomic oxygen, simply O; and that atomic oxygen, O, then combines with the molecular oxygen, O2, to form ozone, O3. Now, it is the ozone, the O3, which prevents the ultraviolet radiation from reaching the earth. O the wisdom of God! The ultraviolet radiation initiates a process, resulting in an envelope of safety surrounding the earth, which prevents the radiation itself from reaching the earth and destroying plant life and animal life. Marvelous! Do you hear God's wisdom in the skies? Do you hear the wordless speech?

The skies reveal God

Psalm 19:1 is exquisite poetry. Do you know what this verse is literally saying? It is literally saying that the heavens and expanse are presenting and portraying God's nature; that the skies are revealing God's power and strength, on the one hand, and His wisdom and understanding, on the other hand. The sky conveys the knowledge of God. Every person, who is made in the image of God, when he or she looks up into the sky, receives the knowledge of God, without question and without dispute. When you gaze upon the sky, at that very time (whether you affirm it or not), you are receiving the knowledge of God. God is speaking to you. So, God Himself reveals Himself to you in sights and 'sounds'; in inarticulable language, in unutterable words. Thus, Psalm 19:3 reads, "There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard."

Again, you do not audibly hear the voice of God from the skies, but they are still speaking, God is still speaking, and He is speaking in a language which everybody understands. He does not speak from the skies in French, or in Italian, or in English, or in Polish, or in Russian; but He speaks in a universal language which the heart understands, and which the heart alone can understand. As His creatures, made to have fellowship with Him, we hear God intuitively, as our Creator, because our hearts have been so made to answer to, and understand, the voice of God in creation, so that we are without religious and moral excuse.

The speaking of God is ceaseless; the creation never rests from the divine resonating – "Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge" (Ps. 19:2). Every day, and every moment of everyday, and every night and every moment of every night, divine speech is bubbling forth. God is continually revealing Himself. But further, the speaking of God is universal; no one, who is able to look heavenward, is out of 'earshot' – "Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world. In them [the heavens, the expanse] He has placed a tent for the sun" (Ps. 19:4). All nations, all tribes, all races have received the revelation of God; and, in this sense, all nations, all tribes, all races know God. Romans 1:20 reads, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

The moral problem of the human race is that with this general revelation of God, with this creational knowledge of God, many of the peoples of the earth have not acknowledged the true God. The knowledge of God is to lead to the acknowledging of God. The revelation of God should lead to the worship of God, to the recognition that God is God. Standing in awe of the creation (and in this case, awe of the heavens), should lead you to enter into the awe of worship. The consideration of the sky should lead you to the contemplation of God, and thus to the worship of His name. There is no other reason why God has put the stamp of His own person on the creation except that He calls, demands, and commands all His creatures to worship Him in the recognition that He is the Creator. The Psalmist puts it this way, "O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth, who hast displayed Thy splendour above the heavens! From the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou hast established strength, because of Thine adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease. When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained; [I am overwhelmed, I am filled with awe, I am humbled, and I exclaim] what is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him? Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, and dost crown him with glory and majesty! Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the sea. [Lord I am constrained to worship You]. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth!" (Ps. 8:1-9). God speaks through the creation? He is speaking; and He is saying to you and to me: "I am the Creator; I made you. I have given to you life and breath, and all things. I sustain you and all things through My power and strength. This world came into being by My wisdom. Worship Me, now and always. I am God, and besides Me there is no other." Do you hear the skies speaking forth God?