IN THE BEGINNING GOD… When Apollo 8 carried mankind into lunar orbit for the first time on December 24, 1968, Lunar Module Pilot William Anders began a live message with these words: "We are now approaching lunar sunrise. For all the people back on earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send to you. 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth...’”
On that momentous day, the crew of Apollo 8 became the first humans to travel beyond low Earth orbit, the first to see Earth as a whole planet, the first to directly see the far side of the Moon, and the first to witness "Earthrise", as pictured by the commemorative stamp illustrating this post.
Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders also became the first of God's creation to communicate His Word from the vast expanse of the Universe He created. As they took turns reading the first 10 verses of Genesis 1, a billion people on Earth heard the Word of God being broadcast 240,000 miles above them. Listen to the Apollo 8's historic broadcast from the moon to the world on Christmas Eve, 1968: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnyNXLXl8iA
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Genesis 1:1. We could make many profound observations about this statement. But truly, it stands alone, defying exegesis or commentary. If we had been with the astronauts that memorable day, we would certainly understand why they chose to read God’s Word at just such a defining point in human history. Indeed, it wasn't about all the nuances of what happened when, or the swagger of intellectual knowledge and ability of mankind. In fact, it was sheer human INABILITY to comprehend the magnitude and design of God's universe that prompted their need to seek Him as Creator!
"In the beginning God". The Apollo 8 astronauts realized there is all the difference in the world (pun intended) between SEEING God as Creator and SEEKING Him as Creator. And here we are, right this very moment, hurtling through space and time at 66,700 miles per hour, with the unfathomable opportunity to confront the shear reality of the Maker of our Universe!!
“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Genesis 1:5. Amazingly, all it takes is 8 minutes for the light of sunrise or sunset to get to the Earth, where we can observe it. As God appointed, evening begins at sunset, and morning begins at sunrise. Together, and in that order, they constitute what God "day".
God said in Genesis 1:14-16: "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also."
Today, astronomers estimate that there are ten thousand billion trillion stars – that’s a 1 followed by 25 zeros! And there are between 100 billion and 1 trillion stars in 1 normal galaxy. Our universe alone may contain 100 billion galaxies! Using elements from the staggering array of His heavenly handiwork, God has appointed a lunar and solar calendar for His creation on Earth. Genesis 1:14. Jeremiah 31:35 and Psalm 136:7-9 state these lights are the sun, moon and stars.
On March 14, 2019, the day and night hours were exactly equal, marked as the Vernal Equilux, providing a good indication that the physical circuit of the sun in the heavens was completed as appointed by the Almighty. After this point the daylight hours begin to outweigh the dark hours, and the sun can truly be said to have begun another renewed cycle, or year. God has given us an awesome spiritual picture of this in Psalm 19:4-6. “...In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course, It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.”
Time periods within the year are based on the cycles of the moon. The Hebrew word for month, “chodesh”, literally means “new moon.” A new month begins with the rising of the new moon at twilight and lasts until the next new moon rises at twilight. The moon’s phases follow one another in clock-like precision, giving mankind the ability to easily follow God's calendar as He has designated it in the heavens.
Our Creator also formed the stars and their specific, named groupings in the constellations. (Genesis 1:14; Job 9:8-9; Job 26:13; Job 38:31-33; Amos 5:8). “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Job 38:31-32. The Pleiades is a star cluster approximately 400 light-year distance from Earth near the constellations of Orion and Taurus in the night sky. The cluster includes seven bright stars that are easily seen with the naked eye, gravitationally bound together. (One can only imagine how Job knew that.) Every year the star group appears in close proximity to the newly visible crescent moon -- just after sunset, in the Spring, at the beginning of the FIRST biblical month. The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.” Exodus 12:1-2. The name of the month is given In Deuteronomy 16:1, where the Israelites are told to keep the Passover in the month of Abib, aka Nissan, because they were delivered from the 10th death plague of Egypt on that very day by God Almighty.
Numbers 9:5 states that they kept the Passover "on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai..." Yes, the Israelites observed the first celebration of the Passover on the prescribed month, setting the date in the middle of the desert, with only the heavens as their reference point. And they did so every year for the remainder of their 40 years in the desert!
On the evening of April 6 on our 2019 Gregorian calendar, we begin the watch for “chodesh”, or "new moon" for God's New Year to officially begin. Yes, we have to watch! Because contrary to contemporary opinion, God's New Year cannot be appointed by man on a published calendar!
"Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven...for signs," Recognizing God’s 1st month is extremely important, as it literally ushers in God’s appointed dates for the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ! When Jesus came as the Passover Lamb, whose blood was shed for all mankind for forgiveness of sins, that divine appointment had been put on the calendar 1500 years before. When He was raised from the dead as the sinless, Unleavened Bread, He fulfilled the timing of God Almighty made 1500 years prior. When Jesus ascended to the Father after His death and resurrection on Firstfruits, He not only fulfilled the 1500 year appointment of the Almighty, but guaranteed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in His name, 50 days from that date, known as Pentecost!
We also can look forward to heavenly signs of at least 3 more divine appointments on God’s calendar. Jesus will return as the anointed Trumpet Call for our righteous ingathering. Jesus will reign as the divine Atonement for our sin. And finally, Jesus will Tabernacle WITH His people when He returns as the King of Glory! Check out God's appointment schedule given to His people in Leviticus 23.
Yes, when Jesus returns again to this earth, it will be by Divine Appointment only, right on time as appointed by God's calendar! The Apostle Paul said this to the people of Athens, "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth...made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us...’” (Acts 17:24-28)
No, God isn't far from any of us, we just don't recognize that truth. The greatest irony of all is when we really and truly do SEE Him, in all His glory in His creation, as the Apollo 8 astronauts did, we will spend the rest of our lives SEEKING Him as our Lord and King!
In the coming year, as we hurtle through space, we will travel nearly 600 million miles. That's certainly more than enough time to be humbled by the Almighty, as He reveals His glory and majesty, just like He planned all along!
"IN THE BEGINNING GOD..."