One morning this week, I took the dogs out to pee. As they were doing their business, I looked up at the dark, star-lit sky. There, in that moment, I saw one of the wildest sights.
It looked like stars moving in a perfect line, in total unison, at a steady speed. First, I rubbed my eyes and looked again just to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. Sure enough, they were still there, at least a dozen from what I could see. My second thought was those aren’t stars, those are satellites, maybe even Starlink satellites sent up in orbit by SpaceX. When I went inside, I looked it up and sure enough that’s what I saw.
Now what’s this have to do with Romans 9-11?
As I was reading that section this week, I was reminded of what a mind-bender this whole section is. As Paul is laying out the state of Israel and their place in the story of salvation and what God is doing at his moment in history, you can’t help but be amazed. Basically, Paul is saying that God was bringing salvation to and through the Jews until the time of Jesus, but as they were getting further from him and losing their way, God sent Jesus as a beacon of hope to all nations and races, not just the Jews. Now, Paul is preaching that good news first to Jews, then to all the rest. And what he sees happening is Jews closing their hearts to the message while non-Jews are more open to it than he’s ever seen. And he says God meant for it to be this way. Speaking of the Jews, Paul says:
If their falling out initiated this worldwide coming together, their recovery is going to set off something even better: mass homecoming! If the first thing the Jews did, even though it was wrong for them, turned out for your good, just think what’s going to happen when they get it right!
“Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out.”
Which takes me back to the satellites, looking like stars in a perfect line flying through the night sky. First, it reminded me that we’re the ones spinning, not that the stars are moving. And we’re spinning at a fairly steady clip of about 1000 miles per hour. We, us humans, are just a speck on this great planet. Just one of 7 billion people, sitting on 37 billion acres of land, surrounded by another 86 billion acres of water. Yet, we have this ability within us to innovate, to imagine, to work. We can fathom providing internet / wireless signal to the entire world. We can put our minds together and build the rockets necessary to send up the satellites to provide these signals. Using our knowledge of physics, gravity, and the rest of it, we can then get those rockets to release them in a perfect line, so that as our world spins, in God’s hands, we accomplish what we set out to do.
God has given us tremendous freedom and power. Yet, just as the child’s lullaby states, He has the whole world in His hands. And not just our world, but the entire universe. All of the life within it, from prairie grass to rain forests, from microscopic amoebas to the giants of the sea, all of life on this earth and if there’s any on other celestial masses, all of that life too, in its infinite variety. That’s why Paul concludes this section with:
Is there anyone around who can explain God?
Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice?
Everything comes from him;
Everything happens through him;
Everything ends up in him.
Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes.