Sukkot is a joyful time to celebrate the glory and power of Adonai. We are called to remove ourselves from the hustle and bustle of modern life and to seek Adonai in the peace of the Sukkah. Sukkot, like the other High Holidays is a time for introspection, to examine our relationship with God. We are also invited to look around us, to our relationships with other people and to share the joy of knowing the Lord with them. But there is another aspect to Sukkot that I believe is overlooked. In making the Sukkah we are told to leave enough room in the roof so that we can see the stars. So, Sukkot is not just about looking within or around us, but also looking up.
When we look up at the night sky in the Sukkah, we see the heavenly lights of our Great Creator. Seeing the stars above reminds us of the glory, power, and intelligent designs of Adonai. We all need to look up and focus on the Lord, instead of just focusing on our society around us.
In our society though it is very difficult to see the stars. Through technology we have banished back the darkness with lights of all kind. While this is very useful, it robs us of seeing the full glory of God in His heavenly lights. Most of the time we can only see a few stars due to light pollution, unless all the lights go out.
I remember back in 2003 when the lights did go out, during the blackout I could see the night sky clearly from home and did not have to be up north. There is this excellent picture from the blackout that shows the difference in the stars that could be seen during this time.
When you see the numerous stars in the sky and the Milky Way, it is an awe-inspiring sight. Day and night, these stars showing us God’s glory are always above us even though we are rarely aware.
I wonder what the night sky would have looked like in the wilderness for our people, the time Sukkot is to remind us of. To be surrounded by harsh wilderness and an infinite night sky. To see the glory of Adonai displayed in His creation. Here is a picture of the night sky in the Sinai Desert region today.
It would have been a very similar night sky that inspired King David through the Holy Spirit to write in Psalm 19:1-4,” The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
Every day the heavens show the Glory of God. The splendor of His light and nature. They speak in a way that crosses every border and every language. When we look at the heavens it stirs something in us at the core of our being. The sky is telling us that there is a God, His glory and power are infinite, and that compared to Him we are very small. The overwhelming size of the night sky humbles us to seek out the heavens and our Creator.
I’ve seen the stars a few times in a way that has overwhelmed and spoke to me personally. One moment burned forever into my memory was when I was around 11 at my Dad’s cottage. I went down to the beach and laid down on my back staring up at the stars on a very clear night. As I stared into the night sky, I had this overwhelming feeling of vastness, and was suddenly struck with vertigo. I felt like I was about to fall off the Earth at any moment into that vast twinkling sky. It was in that moment that I really felt how small I was, just an infinitesimally small point in a seemingly infinite universe.
When I say the universe is overwhelming huge this is something that cannot be understated. When we reach space, we begin to measure distance at the speed of light, because we have nothing faster. The universe is estimated to be over 93 billion light-years in diameter and filled with over 2 trillion galaxies each of which are many light-years themselves in size. We can’t even begin to handle anything that size with our limited human minds. But each star is uniquely made and a work of art.
To give you some idea of the size we are talking about we can consider this picture known as the Hubble Deep Field. This picture contains tens of thousands of galaxies. It also only represents a tiny fraction of our universe. It is the equivalent of holding a tennis ball at the end of a football field and looking at it from the other end. Just a very small fraction.
Several years ago, NASA released an updated picture of our universe. Called the Hubble Legacy Field it represents 15,000 exposures stitched together. It is 30 times the size of the Hubble Deep Field and contains only 265,000 Galaxies.
When we say the Lord is everywhere, this is the size of space we are talking about. That the power of God is demonstrated through such a huge universe with wonderful artistry.
It is also a sign of an intelligent designer. When we look at each unique star and galaxy, we can see clearly that there is wonderful artistry. This clear and intelligent design reinforced the faith of great scientists like Isaac Newton. In his book on Mathematic principles, one of the most important books ever written, Isaac Newton declares, “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.” He goes on to explain how this must be the Lord and not some sort of impersonal force. That God is eternal, infinite, present everywhere, and has power without limits. Here are a few of those stars, galaxies, and Nebula that show the great work of our Intelligent Designer.
I am reminded of Astronaut Buzz Aldrin who during the Apollo 11 mission reflected on his journey to the Moon and back by reciting Psalm 8:3-4 , “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”
In this psalm the heavens are described as the work of Adonai’s fingers. There is this imagery here that it is like Adonai has stretched His fingers delicately across the universe leaving beautiful stars in His wake. Throughout an overwhelming large universe, He has scattered these beautiful works of art, moving to a dance we are only beginning to understand.
So, as we look to the stars, we see the glory, power, and infinite nature of our great Creator. Compared to the grandeur and size of our universe we are very small indeed. But the Lord has not only created us but has also given us a window to perfectly view the splendor of this universe. It is astounding that the He remembers and cares for us so deeply, but it is true. He has remembered us time and again in our people’s history and through Messiah Yeshua He died for everyone so that we can live forever with Him.
I have one more picture I want to share with you. It is a very famous one known as The Pale Blue Dot. This picture was taken from a relatively close distance to Earth, from 4 billion miles away still in our solar system. The Earth is seen just as a tiny dot captured in a ray of light from the Sun. It is on that pale blue dot we all live, that everything that makes up the history of mankind has ever happened. We exist as a dot, on a dot we call the Earth in our solar system. The entire solar system is a dot in our galaxy, and our entire galaxy is but a dot in a huge universe. We are so small and fragile, a planet so tiny like a Sukkah in a wide universe.
But the Lord has made His light shine on us. He has loved us enough to bring us to Him through the sinless Son of God. Though in size we are insignificant, the Lord has given us great significance through being made in His image. In this vast and beautiful universe, He has made His kingdom on this dot. At the end of days, He will make His kingdom permanent in a New Heavens and a New Earth forever on this Pale Blue Dot.
Did you know that during the Apollo 8 mission, as they orbited the Moon, the astronauts on board took turns reading from Genesis 1? There was of course a lawsuit when they got back to Earth by atheist organizations, but it was eventually dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction. However, these astronauts looked up to the heavens and read to the world the origin of their creation, about the Lord who spoke light into existence.
They were moved by the speech poured out every day by our wonderfully crafted universe. It is natural for us to be humbled by the heavens and to seek to understand the speech they pour out. Each one of us needs to look to the stars and consider their Creator and His place in our lives. We need to remember to look above and not below, looking at the light of the Lord and not the darkened sinful world we find ourselves in.
As we spend our time celebrating the joy of Sukkot, in our Sukkah’s under the stars, may we also look up and remember our great Creator. May we be moved by the glory of the Heavens to focus our lives around our Intelligent Designer. May each one of us seek after the things above and not the things on this Earth. Looking above us to where our wonderful Messiah rules as we wait patiently for His return.