Keep your eyes on this eye in the sky

With inspiration from a scripture reading at Grace Church Sunday morning…


In the world of science a big day is coming in mid July.


The James Webb Space Telescope will be officially ready for business.


This is probably the most anticipated astronomy mission since the famous Hubble space telescope was launched some 30 years ago.


You’ve seen Hubble’s pictures many times over the years. Awe inspiring images of the cosmos. Far away galaxies, interstellar star nurseries, amazing nebulae. Hubble has definitely earned its keep and then some.


Webb is also a telescope but MUCH larger. And there’s one other BIG difference between the two…


Hubble is not far above your head, in low orbit around Earth. A space shuttle mission carried Hubble into orbit and dropped it off where it’s been circling around us all these years.


Webb is nowhere near you. In fact it’s a million miles away, far beyond the Moon. No one dropped it off because no man has ever flown past the Moon – and we haven’t done that since 1972.


The new telescope flew itself to a special point a million miles away where it will constantly stay in line with the Earth and the Moon, always at the same position.


Why is that important? Because Webb will then be out in the “middle of nowhere” surrounded by blackness in order to get the best views possible of whatever is out there.


Webb itself is an incredible instrument. Composed of several different types of cameras and scanners, the telescope literally had to unfold its parts on its way to that special point, like an umbrella being slowly opened. Its special shield to ward off the sun’s heat and rays couldn’t have one mark on it to make sure Webb’s measurements are precise.


Hundreds of adjustments and movements had to go exactly right while the telescope made its long journey. And amazingly, every single one did. It’s a true triumph of scientific innovation.


For many weeks the Webb control staff has been fine tuning every aspect of the telescope’s operation. Some test images have been taken and the most recent ones already have scientists drooling.


What do they expect to see when all of Webb’s systems have been checked and the telescope is ready to start its mission?


They will see farther than we’ve ever seen before. Maybe actual planets outside our solar system. Incredibly distant galaxies and stars. Deep into the known universe. And as far back in time as possible, maybe even…well, maybe even to this…


“The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,
    before his deeds of old;
I was formed long ages ago,
    at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
When there were no watery depths, I was given birth,
    when there were no springs overflowing with water;
before the mountains were settled in place,
    before the hills, I was given birth,
before he made the world or its fields
    or any of the dust of the earth.
I was there when he set the heavens in place,
    when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
when he established the clouds above
    and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
when he gave the sea its boundary
    so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.

Then I was constantly at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
    rejoicing always in his presence,

 rejoicing in his whole world
    and delighting in mankind.
– Proverbs 8:22-31 NIV


Now, we’re not that brash. We don’t think that one day some scientist will point Webb in some direction, turn on the camera and there’s God at the other end saying “Hi folks, here I am.”


The telescope won’t see Jesus on His way for the Second Coming so we can splash it on the evening news. Or when the latest E.T. makes a swing by our beautiful blue world.


But it promises to see some of the most incredible views in human history which will keep scientists busy for decades.


The reading from Proverbs above – when you read it, who did it remind you of?


The opening two lines…


“The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,
    before his deeds of old;
I was formed long ages ago,
    at the very beginning, when the world came to be.


Proverbs of course is from the Old Testament. Let’s try another view…


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:1-5 NIV


There are a number of future references to Christ in the Old Testament, but this one from Proverbs is often overlooked. Some scholars refer to the “person” in Proverbs 8 as a woman of wisdom. Proverbs 8 opens with…


Does not wisdom call out?
    Does not understanding raise her voice?
At the highest point along the way,
    where the paths meet, she takes her stand…

“I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
    I possess knowledge and discretion.
- Proverbs 8:1-2, 12 NIV


Go ahead and read all of Proverbs 8 in your Bible or on your gadget gizmo. That middle section…sure sounds like someone else…


No, the Lord won’t be waving hello when the Webb telescope begins seeing into space. But along the way this instrument will observe a lot of God’s handiwork going back billions of years.


Yes, as they always do scientists will try to come up with complicated theories and explanations on how the things they see originally formed and when. And most will stick with the prevailing theory that the universe we see just POPPED into existence one day in the distant past, all by itself.


Wouldn’t it be interesting if God manifested Himself somehow for Webb to see, as if to say “you know guys, you’ve been questioning my existence all this time. How about NOW?”


And isn’t it ironic that the Webb telescope took off for space in a large rocket six months ago – on December 25. The day recognized as the birthday of Jesus.


An amazing scientific experiment to peer into deep space began its life on the same day as the Savior of the world. Ironic indeed.


Watch the headlines. Keep an eye on Webb as it scans the universal sky looking for fascinating sights and galactic surprises to add to our human knowledge of the cosmos. Some day in the far distant future we poor humans might find out…just how the Creator did it…


From George Churchgoer