This is not a series on space, but after last week’s article on watching the full moon rise, I had various comments about space. One in particular caught my attention (thanks Rosie!). It was pointed out to me that on Thursday (last Thursday as you are reading this) five planets were going to line up, and they would be in the same order that we learned in school. In school we learned the planets in the order of where their orbits are in relation to the sun, and on Thursday, just before dawn, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn lined up from left to right with the moon thrown in as a lagniappe.
Like many coincidences in space, these things don’t happen very often—the last time these planets lined up in this order was March 5, 1864. That was a long time ago! And there was no Internet to let people know about it like we have today.
So why does this matter? Well, it doesn’t, except that I find predicting such an occurrence remarkable, and to be able to be notified to see it a treat. (I’m sorry I’m writing this post-facto!). Jesus told His disciples that he would die and rise on the third day. And while nobody stood around the tomb to watch the event (except some soldiers who must have really been spooked), the disciples did stick around together in Jerusalem long enough to witness the outcome. They missed the
privilege of seeing Jesus actually emerge triumphant, but they (and we) still got to experience its benefit.
Now, with the planets lining up, there’s no actual benefit. Although it does remind me of the statement “all the stars aligned….” I think that idiom means that a series of circumstances all happened so that some desired outcome happened. That’s not a Webster Dictionary definition, but sounds about right. Now, do stars actually align for the events of humans to happen? No. Astrology is a capricious reading of the sky interpreted in as many ways as there are astrologers that beg you to order your life accordingly. It’s not to be confused with astronomy, which is able to predict the wonders we see in the sky.
I don’t think that using the idiom “all the stars lined up” means ascent to astrology necessarily. But I do think that we need to be mindful that God is full of mercy and grace, and that God blesses us in remarkable ways, and that when things work out for good, it’s not that the “stars all lined up” but that God worked out circumstances in our favor. And we don’t “thank our lucky stars” (whatever that means) but we give thanks to God when we see those wonderful things happen.
The five planets lining up is a celestial phenomena that happens because of their respective orbits. The idiom “planets lining up” should actually be the preamble of thanksgiving to God. He worked things together for our good. The Apostle Paul went so far as to say that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Now, that doesn’t say that all things work out for good. It says that God is working in all things to bring good. There’s a difference. But Paul seeks to convey to us the idea that the Creator of all those planets and stars actually gets
involved in our lives intending for our good. That’s remarkable. Even more than a full moon rising or five planets aligning in order.
Smiling with delight,
He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Psalm 147:4