The powerful sun

CHAPTER 5

Creative Power—“The Maker of Heaven and Earth”

HAVE you ever stood near a fire on a cold night? Perhaps you held out your hands at just the right distance from the flames to enjoy the radiating warmth. If you leaned in too close, the heat became unbearable. If you stepped back too far, the cool night air closed in, and you felt chilled.

2 There is a “fire” that warms our skin by day. That “fire” is burning some 93 million miles (150 million km) away!* What power the sun must have for you to be able to feel its heat from such a distance! Yet, the earth orbits that awesome thermonuclear furnace at just the right distance. Too close, and earth’s water would vaporize; too far, and it would all freeze. Either extreme would render our planet lifeless. Essential to life on earth, sunlight is also clean and efficient, not to mention delightful.—Ecclesiastes 11:7.

3 Nevertheless, most people take the sun for granted, even though their lives depend on it. Thus, they miss what the sun can teach us. The Bible says of Jehovah: “You . . . prepared the luminary, even the sun.” (Psalm 74:16) Yes, the sun brings honor to Jehovah, “the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 19:1; 146:6) It is just one of countless heavenly bodies that teach us about Jehovah’s immense creative power. Let us examine some of these more closely and then turn our attention to the earth and the life that thrives upon it.

“Raise Your Eyes High Up and See”

4 As you may know, our sun is a star. It appears larger than the stars we see at night because, compared with them, it is quite close. How powerful is it? At its core, the sun is about 27,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit (15,000,000°C). If you could take a pinhead-sized piece of the sun’s core and put it here on the earth, you could not safely stand within 90 miles (140 km) of that tiny heat source! Every second, the sun emits energy equivalent to the explosion of many hundreds of millions of nuclear bombs.

5 The sun is so huge that over 1,300,000 of our earths could fit inside it. Is the sun an unusually large star? No, astronomers call it a yellow dwarf. The apostle Paul wrote that “star differs from star in glory.” (1 Corinthians 15:41) He could not have known how true those inspired words are. There is a star so huge that if it were placed right where the sun is, our earth would be inside it. Another giant star so placed would reach all the way out to Saturn—although that planet is so far from the earth that it took a spacecraft four years to get there, traveling over 40 times faster than a bullet fired from a powerful handgun!

6 Even more awesome than the size of the stars is their number. In fact, the Bible suggests that the stars are virtually innumerable, as difficult to count as “the sand of the sea.” (Jeremiah 33:22) This statement implies that there are far more stars than the naked eye can see. After all, if a Bible writer, such as Jeremiah, had looked up at the night sky and had tried to count the visible stars, he would have counted only three thousand or so, for that is how many the unaided human eye can detect on a clear night. That number might be comparable to the number of grains in a mere handful of sand. In reality, though, the number of stars is overwhelming, like the sand of the sea.* Who could count such a number?

Innumerable heavenly stars and galaxies
“All of [them] he calls even by name”

7 Isaiah 40:26 answers: “Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name.” Psalm 147:4 says: “He is counting the number of the stars.” What is “the number of the stars”? That is not a simple question. Astronomers estimate that there are over 100 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy alone.* But ours is just one of many galaxies, and many of those swarm with even more stars. How many galaxies are there? Some astronomers have estimated 50 billion. Others have calculated that there may be as many as 125 billion. So man cannot even determine the number of galaxies, let alone the exact sum of all the billions of stars they contain. Yet, Jehovah knows that number. Moreover, he gives each star its own name!

8 Our awe can only increase when we contemplate the size of galaxies. The Milky Way galaxy has been estimated to measure some 100,000 light-years across. Picture a beam of light traveling at the tremendous speed of 186,000 miles each second (300,000 km/sec). It would take that beam 100,000 years to traverse our galaxy! And some galaxies are many times the size of ours. The Bible says that Jehovah is “stretching out” these vast heavens as if they were mere fabric. (Psalm 104:2) He also orders the movements of these creations. From the smallest speck of interstellar dust to the mightiest galaxy, everything moves according to physical laws that God has formulated and put into effect. (Job 38:31-33) Thus, scientists have likened the precise movements of the celestial bodies to the choreography of an elaborate ballet! Think, then, of the One who has created these things. Do you not stand in awe of the God having such immense creative power?

“The Maker of the Earth by His Power”

9 Jehovah’s creative power is evident in our home, the earth. He has placed the earth very carefully in this vast universe. Some scientists believe that many galaxies might prove inhospitable to a life-bearing planet like ours. Much of our Milky Way galaxy was evidently not designed to accommodate life. The galactic center is packed with stars. Radiation is high, and close encounters between stars are common. The fringes of the galaxy lack many of the elements essential to life. Our solar system is ideally situated between such extremes.

10 Earth benefits from a distant but giant protector—the planet Jupiter. More than a thousand times the size of Earth, Jupiter exerts a tremendous gravitational influence. The result? It absorbs or deflects objects that speed through space. Scientists figure that if not for Jupiter, the rain of massive projectiles striking the earth would be 10,000 times more severe than at present. Closer to home, our earth is blessed with an unusual satellite—the moon. More than an object of beauty and a “night-light,” the moon holds the earth at a constant, steady tilt. That tilt gives the earth its stable, predictable seasons—another important boon to life here.

11 Jehovah’s creative power is evident in every facet of the earth’s design. Consider the atmosphere, which serves as a protective shield. The sun emits healthful rays and deadly ones. When the lethal rays strike the earth’s upper atmosphere, they cause ordinary oxygen to turn into ozone. The resulting ozone layer, in turn, absorbs most of those rays. In effect, our planet is designed with its own protective umbrella!

12 That is just one aspect of our atmosphere, a complex mix of gases ideally suited to supporting the creatures living on or near the earth’s surface. Among wonders of the atmosphere is the water cycle. Every year the sun lifts up by evaporation over 100,000 cubic miles (400,000 cu km) of water from the earth’s oceans and seas. The water forms clouds, which are circulated far and wide by atmospheric winds. This water, now filtered and purified, falls as rain, snow, and ice, replenishing water supplies. It is just as Ecclesiastes 1:7 says: “All the winter torrents are going forth to the sea, yet the sea itself is not full. To the place where the winter torrents are going forth, there they are returning so as to go forth.” Only Jehovah could set such a cycle in motion.

13 Wherever we see life, we see evidence of the Creator’s power. From the mighty redwoods that tower higher than 30-story buildings to the microscopic plant life that teems in the oceans and provides much of the oxygen we breathe, Jehovah’s creative power is evident. The very soil is packed with living things—worms, fungi, and microbes, all working together in complex ways that help plants to grow. Fittingly, the Bible speaks of the soil as having power.—Genesis 4:12.

14 Without a doubt, Jehovah is “the Maker of the earth by his power.” (Jeremiah 10:12) God’s power is evident even in his smallest creations. For instance, a million atoms laid side by side would not span the thickness of a human hair. And even if an atom were expanded until it was as tall as a 14-story building, its nucleus would be the size of a mere grain of salt located on the seventh floor. Yet, that infinitesimal nucleus is the source of the awesome power unleashed in a nuclear explosion!

“Every Breathing Thing”

15 Another vivid proof of Jehovah’s creative power lies in the abundance of animal life on the earth. Psalm 148 lists many of the things that praise Jehovah, and verse 10 includes “you wild animals and all you domestic animals.” To show why man should be in awe of the Creator, Jehovah once spoke to Job about such animals as the lion, the zebra, the wild bull, Behemoth (or, hippopotamus), and Leviathan (evidently the crocodile). The point? If man stands in awe of these mighty, fearsome, and untamable creatures, how should he feel about their Creator?—Job, chapters 38-41.

16 Psalm 148:10 also mentions “winged birds.” Just think of the varieties! Jehovah told Job of the ostrich, which “laughs at the horse and at its rider.” Indeed, this eight-foot-tall (2.5 m) bird may be flightless, but it can run 40 miles per hour (65 km/hr), covering up to 15 feet (4.5 m) in a single stride! (Job 39:13, 18) On the other hand, the albatross spends most of its life in the air over the seas. A natural glider, this bird has a wingspan of some 11 feet (3 m). It may soar for hours at a stretch without flapping its wings. By way of contrast, at only two inches (5 cm) in length, the bee hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world. It may flap its wings up to 80 times in a second! Hummingbirds, glittering like little winged gems, can hover like helicopters and even fly backward.

17 Psalm 148:7 says that even the “sea monsters” praise Jehovah. Consider what is often thought to be the largest animal ever to live on this planet, the blue whale. This “monster” of the deep may reach a length of 100 feet (30 m) or more. It may weigh as much as a herd of 30 adult elephants. Its tongue alone weighs as much as one elephant. Its heart is the size of a small car. This huge organ beats only 9 times per minute—in contrast with the hummingbird’s heart, which may beat some 1,200 times per minute. At least one of the blue whale’s blood vessels is so large that a child could crawl inside it. Surely our hearts move us to echo the exhortation that concludes the book of Psalms: “Every breathing thing—let it praise Jah.”—Psalm 150:6.

Learning From Jehovah’s Creative Power

18 What do we learn from Jehovah’s use of his creative power? We are awestruck by the diversity of creation. One psalmist exclaimed: “How many your works are, O Jehovah! . . . The earth is full of your productions.” (Psalm 104:24) How true! Biologists have identified well over a million species of living things on earth; yet, opinions vary as to whether there may be as many as 10 million, 30 million, or more. A human artist may find that his creativity runs dry at times. In contrast, Jehovah’s creativity—his power to invent and create new and diverse things—is obviously inexhaustible.

19 Jehovah’s use of his creative power teaches us about his sovereignty. The very word “Creator” separates Jehovah from everything else in the universe, all of which is “creation.” Even Jehovah’s only-begotten Son, who served as “a master worker” during creation, is never called Creator or co-Creator in the Bible. (Proverbs 8:30; Matthew 19:4) Rather, he is “the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15) Jehovah’s position as the Creator gives him the intrinsic right to wield exclusive sovereign power over all the universe.—Romans 1:20; Revelation 4:11.

20 Has Jehovah stopped exercising his creative power? Well, the Bible does say that when Jehovah finished his creative work on the sixth creative day, “he proceeded to rest on the seventh day from all his work that he had made.” (Genesis 2:2) The apostle Paul indicated that this seventh “day” is thousands of years long, for it was still ongoing in his day. (Hebrews 4:3-6) But does “rest” mean that Jehovah has stopped working altogether? No, Jehovah never stops working. (Psalm 92:4; John 5:17) His rest, then, must simply refer to the cessation of his work of physical creation respecting the earth. His work of bringing his purposes to fulfillment, however, has continued uninterrupted. Such work has included the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. His work has even involved the bringing forth of “a new creation,” which will be discussed in Chapter 19.—2 Corinthians 5:17.

21 When Jehovah’s rest day finally comes to an end, he will be able to pronounce all of his work on the earth “very good,” much as he did at the end of the six creative days. (Genesis 1:31) How he may choose to exercise his limitless creative power thereafter remains to be seen. In any event, we may be assured that we will continue to be fascinated by Jehovah’s use of creative power. Throughout all eternity, we will learn more about Jehovah through his creation. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) The more we learn about him, the more profound our awe will become—and the closer we will draw to our Grand Creator.

[Footnotes]

To put that giant number in perspective, think about this: To drive that distance by car—even speeding along at 100 miles (160 km/hr) per hour, 24 hours a day—would take you over a hundred years!

Some think that ancients in Bible times must have used a rudimentary form of telescope. How else, the reasoning goes, could men of those times have known that the number of stars is so vast, innumerable, from a human standpoint? Such unfounded speculation leaves Jehovah, the Author of the Bible, out of the picture.—2 Timothy 3:16.

Consider how long it would take you just to count 100 billion stars. If you were able to count a new one each second—and keep at it 24 hours a day—it would take you 3,171 years!

Questions for Meditation

Psalm 8:3-9 How can Jehovah’s creation teach us humility?

Psalm 19:1-6 Jehovah’s creative power may incite us to do what, and why?

Matthew 6:25-34 How can contemplating Jehovah’s creative power help us to fight anxiety and set proper priorities in life?

Acts 17:22-31 How does Jehovah’s use of creative power teach us that idolatry is wrong and that God is not far off from us?

[Study Questions]

1, 2. How does the sun demonstrate Jehovah’s creative power?

 3. The sun testifies to what important truth?

4, 5. How powerful and how large is the sun, yet how does it compare with other stars?

 6. How does the Bible show that the number of the stars is vast from a human standpoint?

 7. (a) About how many stars does our Milky Way galaxy contain, and how large a number is that? (b) Why is it significant that astronomers find it difficult to number the galaxies, and what does this teach us about Jehovah’s creative power?

 8. (a) How would you explain the size of the Milky Way galaxy? (b) By what means does Jehovah order the movements of celestial bodies?

9, 10. How is Jehovah’s power evident in connection with the positioning of our solar system, Jupiter, the earth, and the moon?

11. How is earth’s atmosphere designed to serve as a protective shield?

12. How does the atmospheric water cycle illustrate Jehovah’s creative power?

13. What evidence of the Creator’s power do we see in the earth’s vegetation and its soil?

14. What latent power exists even in the tiny atom?

15. By discussing various wild animals, what lesson did Jehovah teach Job?

16. What impresses you about some of the birds that Jehovah has created?

17. How large is the blue whale, and what conclusion should we naturally reach after contemplating Jehovah’s animal creations?

18, 19. How diverse are the living things that Jehovah has made on this earth, and what does creation teach us about his sovereignty?

20. In what sense has Jehovah rested since completing his earthly creation?

21. How will Jehovah’s creative power affect faithful humans throughout eternity?

[Picture on page 48]

Jehovah “prepared the luminary, even the sun”

[Picture on page 49]

“All of [them] he calls even by name”