Thursday, August 2, 2007
Lord King Forever
The LORD is King forever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.
The Lord is King forever. . . wow! We are so accustomed to exaggeration or hyperbole in everyday language, that when words are used literally in ways that are magnificent and grand in of themselves, their impact is lost upon us. The Lord is King forever. . . I will love you forever. . . It's going to take forever to get there in this traffic. . . It's been forever since I've had strawberry ice cream. We use forever in every day conversation in circumstances that are in no way forever.
Even God in His Word sometimes over states illustrations for the purpose of emphasis:
That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
This is God talking to Abraham after his offering of Issac on the altar. God uses two comparisons here. Abraham's offspring, his seed will be as the stars of the heaven or as the sand upon the sea shore. I do not believe that either one of these are to be taken literally.
Let us look first at the statement that Abraham's offspring will be the same "as the sand upon the sea shore." A hair upon your head measures approximately .003 of an inch in diameter. I just put a pair of dial calipers on my fingernail and it measured .012" thick, about the width of 4 hairs. I'm guessing that an average grain of sand is around .010" in diameter, somewhere between the thickness of a hair and a fingernail. So for a grain of sand that is .010" in diameter, if we had 10 of them (10 x .010) it would be 1/10 of an inch and again if we had 100 of them (100 x .010) it would be an inch and again to follow, a 1,000 of them would be 10 inches in length (1,000 x .010).
I know that grains of sand don't line up like kernels on a cob, but in our little mental exercise a million is 1,000 grains x 1,000 grains. So using our grains of sand a square 10 inches wide by 10 inches tall would equal a million grains of sand. A billion is 1,000 times a million so we would take our square 10" x 10" (of sand grains) and give it another dimension make it 10" deep. Instead of a square it is now a cube 10" x 10" x 10" on a side. If the grains of sand are .010 in diameter there would be a billion grains of sand in a cube 10 inches on a side. I think there are roughly 6,000,000,000 (6 billion) people on the earth today. So everyone in the world could be represented by the grains of sand in a shape 10" tall x 10" thick x 60" long. Now this is a tiny bit of sand in comparison to the sand on the sea shore. I think it fair to say that a child's very small sandbox would have several times this amount of sand.
Most of us in this area have been to the sand dunes up at Lake Michigan or in any respect seen pictures of them. How many 10" cubes of sand are in just one sand dune, let alone in the uncounted thousands of miles of seashore?
In the other comparison, God says, his offspring will be "as the stars of the heaven." What is He talking about here? With the naked eye, in a dark sky location without light pollution and 20/20 vision, it is said that it is possible to see around 6,000 stars. This is a very small number. If that was the promise that God was making to Abraham, it really wasn't much of a promise. So, if God wasn't talking about the number of visible stars, what was He referring to?
A report recently listed the number of stars visible to modern telescopes at 70 sextillion (70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000). Note that this is just the number of estimated visible stars, the actual number of stars in the universe is thought to be larger, maybe much larger than that. How much larger is ultimately probably only for God to know for sure. If you read the article that I linked to above, you will find this statement: "Even so, 70 sextillion is greater than the estimated number of sand grains on all the world's beaches and deserts" Think about that now, the number of stars visible with today's telescopes, not truly all the stars, just the ones we can see, are possibly 10 times greater than the number of all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the world.
It is remotely possible that God was speaking literally, if Abraham's offspring were somehow to fill the galaxy, but I think it more likely that God was speaking figuratively. He was using a commonly known item out of nature to illustrate a big number. He was trying to make a point to Abraham using a literary technique commonly used even today. We become so accustomed to overstatement or exaggeration as a literary technique that the impact of truly amazing statements passes us by without our even noticing it.
What is for ever? What does for ever mean? In the compound name of Jehovah for today, Jehovah-Helech'Olam. It is translated as Lord King forever. We read that and we don't even think twice about it. This word Helech'Olam is translated: for ever, perpetual, everlasting, eternal. . . What do those words mean?
The LORD shall reign forever and ever.
Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people. (5) My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust. (6) Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. (7) Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. (8) For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation.
Every time you read the words perpetual, everlasting, for ever, eternal. . . you are reading a word that means infinity, an infinite amount of time will pass, time without end. Our mind cannot even begin to comprehend the concept of infinity, for ever. . .
Take the number of stars visible to telescopes, 70 sextillion, that is a number way beyond our ability to understand. Just think about this, if each of those stars were as big as our grains of sand in the above exercise, .010 in diameter, and strung together in a line, how long would the line of stars be? OK 1,000 of them in 10" would be 6,336,000 per mile. How many miles long would that line be? Here's the number: 11,047,979,797,979,797 miles long. How do you make any sense of that? Let's try this. Light travels 186,000 miles per second. It makes the 95,000,000 mile distance from the sun to the earth in about 8 minutes. The distance light travels in a year is called a light year. That number is: 5,865,696,000,000 miles per year. Our grains of sand .010" diameter, lined up representing the 70 sextillion stars that scientists think they can see, would stretch in a line for 1883.49 light years. If a beam of light started down that line at the moment of Jesus birth, it would have gotten to the end of the line of grains of sand right about a hundred years ago. . . at 186,000 miles per second. . .
As big as this number is, it is nothing in comparison to eternity. I've used the following illustration for eternity in my Bible studies at the Work Release center: A bird alights on the top of a huge mountain and sharpens his beak once every hundred years. When that mountain has worn down to nothing, that is only one grain of sand on the beach of eternity. That metaphor originally came from a fairy tale and though an aid to maybe help us understand a little better even that falls pitifully short of what eternity really means. It is just beyond us. . .
Oh, Lord King forever. . . O how well we will come to know You. I don't know? Will we have Bibles available in heaven? That's one of my joys here on earth. I sure hope I can study the word of God in heaven. I know I'll have Him to talk to directly and undoubtedly things that I cannot now even comprehend to do, but still I hope I can study the Bible in heaven. I'm not very good at memorizing verses, but if I only learn a new verse every 1,000 years I'll have the entire Bible memorized in about 31,000,000 years. I can memorize it in every language that has ever existed on the earth. That's still only a drop in the vast ocean of eternity. . .
The treasures that await us. . . the joy, the fascinating things we will see and experience. . .
Dear Lord help us maintain till the end. . .
I love you God. . .