The first images released from NASA’s cutting-edge telescope, NuSTAR, which is short for Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, went viral on the internet within a few hours. The NuSTAR telescope, which is actually onboard the Chandra satellite observatory, uses high-energy X-rays to peer into the distant galaxies, revealing stunning discoveries about our vast universe.
The most noteworthy snapshot taken by NuSTAR is a picture of a bluish-green cloud of material ejected from an exploded star, or supernova, some 17,000 light years from Earth. The image has been dubbed, “The Hand of God,” because it shows what looks like fingers, a thumb, and an open palm showered with spectacular colors. (See the image here)
Scientists are quick to point out that, “The Hand of God” is an example of pareidolia, the psychological phenomenon of perceiving familiar shapes in random or vague images. Other common forms of pareidolia include seeing animals in the clouds, the likeness of celebrities burnt into our breakfast toast, or the classic man in the moon.
Despite its supernatural appearance, we know that “The Hand of God” was produced by natural astrophysical phenomena; however this image got me thinking about several verses in the Scriptures which refer to God’s creative touch.
In Psalm 8:3-4, David writes, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (ESV)” Again, David writes in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (NIV)” In Isaiah 66:1-2 God asks, “Heaven is My throne and earth is My footstool . . . has My hand not made all these things? (NKJV)” Once more in Isaiah God declares, “Surely My hand founded the earth, and My right hand spread out the heavens (48:13).”
We know that God the Father is spirit (John 4:24). He does not have a body, therefore no hands and feet. However, these human descriptions of God’s hands fashioning the cosmos help us understand His nature and actions. We also know that Jesus Christ, did assume flesh at the incarnation and He still resides in that glorified human form today (Luke 24:39). The Scriptures also tell us that Jesus played a role in creation (John 1:3).
NASA’s telescopes bring into view undiscovered beauty all across our universe that we are just now observing. God is a lavish Creator whose artistry and imagination are unparalleled. I wonder if the Almighty thought when He made that exploding star 17,000 light years away, “Wait ‘till they get around to seeing this one!” How much more lies beyond our gaze that God has made simply because He loves beautiful things?
Yet, that’s not even the best part. As stunning as the creation is to study, it cost God nothing to make it all, just a few words according to Genesis. But, the redemption of mankind, that’s another story entirely. Salvation cost God His only Son (John 3:16, Rom. 8:32). We may feel very small in this endless ocean of stars, but never underestimate your value. Jesus came to this tiny planet, shed His blood in its dust, and allowed His cosmos-creating hands, to be pierced with nails. In fact, the next time we see the real hands of God they will appear with scars as an eternal reminder of what it cost for us to dwell with Him in heaven (Rev. 1:7). -DM
1. Dennis Fisher, “The Hand of God,” Our Daily Bread, 27 January 2015 <http://odb.org/2015/01/27/the-hand-of-god/>
2. Tanya Lewis, “Hand of God, Spotted by NASA Space Telescope,” Space.com, 9 January 2014 <http://www.space.com/24225-hand-of-god-photo-nasa-telescope.html>