From The Heavens Devotional, by Kevin Hartnett
This beautiful Hubble Space Telescope image is of an object catalogued as NGC 6751. In telescopes of lesser resolution, it looks amazingly like a gigantic eye staring back at you from space! Of course, the truth is not what it first appears to be. In reality, the disc of the “eye” is a huge, expanding envelope of gas released from the white star at its center. Objects like this are known to astronomers as planetary nebulae. This is because in the first telescopes to reveal them, they appeared as tiny discs, much like the distant solar system planets. Astronomers now find them all over the sky. Once thought to be only spherical, they are now seen to take many astounding and beautiful shapes. They are stars in the late stages of their lives, whose internal processes are out of balance. Much remains to be learned about these objects and why they spawn the shapes they do.
We can learn several lessons from these planetary nebulae, particularly this one. First, human perspective is flawed. We see things through the bias of our own understanding and experience, but both of these are limited. We must not rush to conclusions. Second, we shouldn’t ascribe spiritual significance to natural things that happen to look like something religious—like seeing the face of Jesus in the sand or seeing God’s eye in the heavens. Finally, we should steep ourselves in the Word of God to gain a proper perspective on all things, spiritual and natural. God sees everything with perfect accuracy; He designed the eye, after all! Let us learn to live in agreement with the truth as revealed in His Word.
Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge— the LORD—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.
- Psalm 94:8–11 ESV
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