We had the opportunity to listen to the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra recently. The program included Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy, On the Beautiful Blue Danube by Johan Strauss, Jr., These Worlds in Us by Missy Mazzoli, and The Planets, Suite for Large Orchestra, Opus 32 by Gustav Holst.
Each piece was masterfully performed and it was a pleasure to hear them performed live.
The work that is subject of this blog, however, is The Planets. The composer characterized the orchestral work as “mood pictures” in which each separate movement represented a planet in the solar system. (Notably, he did not include Earth.) This composition was created in 1916, so there were only seven planets, excluding the Earth, that had been identified and were the subject of Holst’s work..
Along with the music, the Symphony presented a montage of video showing each of the planets in space. Viewing the video, one became acutely aware of the difference between each of the planets and our Earth. All were beautiful in their own right. The rings of Saturn were gorgeous while the rings of Uranus were not quite as complex. While beautiful, none of them had any visible evidence of life. No trees, no flowers, no animals, no oceans, no clouds. Just barren rock.
In contrast, on this planet that is the third from the Sun, we have life in all its fullness. Beautiful trees, incredible variety of flowers, animals that range from minute little gnats to enormous elephants and apes, fish that swim in the oceans that live so deep man cannot go there apart from specialized submersibles. Evidence that God created creatures for His glory and beauty is found when, at the bottom of the deepest oceans where no light is found, the camera lights come on and fish are seen displaying a panoply of colors. God’s enjoyment of His creation is profound, and man can only taste a bit of that joy here and now.
Scripture tells us that God created all things. Genesis 1:1 states without equivocation:
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Matthew Henry says of this verse that:
this world was, in the beginning of time, created by a Being of infinite wisdom and power, who was Himself before all time and all worlds.
The Apostle Paul says:
“To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,“
Paul was more clear on this point when he wrote to the Colossians:
“He [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
For the Christian, these words are comforting and clear. The Old Testament says that God created all things and, in the New Testament, we find that Jesus Christ is the Person who performed that creative work. We are also told that this creation was created by Him and for Him, and that He holds everything together.
The Biblical creation story is certainly not popular in our 21st century culture. Big Bang and Evolution are more tantalizing today than a mere statement that by the Word of God creation came about. But, popular or not, this is the Word of God and it is the authoritative source for my faith and its practice.
I believe the video showing the barrenness of the other planets in our solar system is evidence of the grace of our God in giving us this Earth to live on. Not too close and not too far from the Sun. My husband said that Earth’s placement is called the “Goldilocks Zone” … it’s just right!
Praise God for His marvelous works. Thank you Lord for giving us this beautiful planet on which to live, and for giving us life itself.
Father, forgive us when we act like we created anything! Forgive us when we take Your creation for granted. Forgive us when we disrespect our world and when we take actions that harm the environment. Thank you for giving us such a beautiful world in which to live, all because of Your glorious grace, mercy and love.