Note: Check out this one and one-half minute video of Jupiter’s shrinking Red-Spot in preparation for today’s post. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dO0eK3QR6W0
Psalm 19:2 Day to day pours forth speech….
This post represents part three of an ongoing blog series dedicated to unfolding verse by verse Psalm 19:1-6 and the general revelation of God’s glory in what Bible teachers call “general revelation”. By way of reminder, God reveals or makes himself know in three types of revelation: general revelation of the external universe/world and internal conscience (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-20, 2:15); the special revelation of His will in the Bible (2 Peter 1:20-21) and the full revelation of His glory in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. (John 1:1-4, 14,18; 1 Timothy 3:16).
I felt today that we needed to cover the first half of Psalm 19:2 in the English text (19:3 in the Hebrew text) for two reasons: to ensure the brevity of the post and the recent observations of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. According to the press release from NASA (see link: http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/may/nasas-hubble-shows-jupiters-great-red-spot-is-smaller-than-ever-measured/index.html#.U3YQ0_ldXzw), the Great Red Spot of Jupiter has been shrinking by 580 miles per year. To get an idea of why this observation is significant to our study of Psalm 19:2a, we will first of all consider the size and nature of the spot, and then consider real briefly what the text of Psalm 19:2a is saying, with a final set of observations for the reader’s life application.
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot
Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system and the fifth from the sun. According to the Smithsonian’s resource: “Universe – The Definitive Visual Guide”, edited by Martin Reese, 2012, page 178-179): Jupiter is the largest and most massive planet of all the planets. It has almost 2.5 times the mass of the other eight planets, and over 1300 Earths could fit inside it.” The same resource later notes: The average distance from the sun is 483.6 million miles. Diameter: 88,846 miles.”
According to the NASA.gov article, the Great Red Spot is a little over 11,000 miles across. When we consider the fact that our home planet is 7,500 miles in diameter, that would mean then that the Great Red Spot is a planet sized storm!
According the the resource “Universe – The Definitive Visual Guide”, page 181: Jupiter’s most prominent feature, the Great Red Spot, is an enormous high pressure storm that may have been first sighted from Earth over 340 years ago.” To get a better idea of what kind of storm the Great Red Spot is, astronomer Christian Hall in the source: “Wonders of the Universe”, dated 2013, writes: Jupiter’s dense hydrogen and helium atmosphere and large gravitational field result in massive storms on its surface. The Great Red Spot is a ginat storm that is known to have existed since at least the 17th century when it was first seen by a telescope. A century, the Great Red Spot measured 40,000km across, but it’s shrinking- its now only about half that size.” The twelve second video link below features the “Great Red Spot” in action:
Having lived in Florida for five years, this author has first hand experience the power and ferocity of Earth’s tropical whether systems – hurricances. Hurricanes (and to a smaller degree tornados) are low-pressure weather systems, whose centers (eye-walls) are of lower pressure than the outer edges. As long as a hurricance has heat and moisture feeding it from rain-bands stretching from the warm-Gulf waters into the center, the hurricane’s power and size will grow. Tornados operate differently than their tropical big-brothers, feeding almost exclusively from warm and cold whether systems in the upper atmosphere.
If you remove one of those factors from a hurricane’s “engine” of either moisture or warm water, the hurricane loses its power and size. This is why a hurriance plays itself out once it reaches land-fall (land-fall being when the center of the storm, the lower-pressure eye, reaches the land or shoreline). Due to their internal design, hurricanes here on Earth (thankfully!) reach an upper limit in terms of wind-speed (200 miles per hour) and size. In the Eastern Hemisphere meteorologists term the same type of weather-system a “cyclone”.
On Jupiter, the “Great Red Spot” operates in the opposite manner of “Earth-based” hurricance or “cyclones”. Astronomers refer to the Great-Red Spot as an “anti-cyclone”, meaning that rather than its center being a low-pressure system like a hurriance or tornado, the Great-Red Spot’s center operates on a high pressure system. Everything we know about how hurricanes and tornadoes function have virtually no application on planets like Jupiter. What we see on Jupiter is a storm system that is evidently not limited in its size (its bigger than our Earth!) nor its range of power relative to Earth based hurricanes/cyclones. For reasons still being explored by astronomers, such “anti-cyclones” can last for centuries or Millennia. Jupiter’s average frigid temperature of less than -160F makes such storms a reality. Remember, whatever we have learned of earth-based storms is the opposite on Jupiter. According to the NASA article, Astronomer theorize that the eddies forming around the “Great Red-Spot” (Earth hurriance’s equivalent of “rain bands”) is actually causing the storm to shrink and slow down.
Why does all of this this matter to our study of Psalm 19:2a? Lets look briefly at the text.
Unpacking the significance of Psalm 19:2a and its bearing on our study of God’s General revelation in the “Great Red Spot”
If we were to translate this portion of Psalm 19:2a from the Hebrew text, here is what we would read: “Everyday more and more information is caused to burst forth”. As we said in earlier posts in this series, the universe and world around us is so designed to be a revelatory environment, meaning God has designed all of it – from the largest structures in the universe – superclusters of galaxies stretching for billions of light years, all the way down to the sub-atomic realm, to communicate specific information.
Astronomic.blogspot.com. Most distant Galaxy cluster known.
The way that verbal phrase “caused to burst forth” (or as the NASB renders it “pours forth”) is structured, David is saying that the universe is designed to be an interractive environment. In other words, since there is communication of information from the Grand Designer – God Himself, about Himself, then that means there are receivers who are created with the ability to make sense of the information!
Final thoughts and life applications
So what are objects such as the “Great Red-Spot” pouring forth to us? We can say that for one thing, the creativity of God is not limited to how things operate here on earth. The fact that a weather system can operate on opposite principles of what we claim to know demonstrates the limits of our knowledge and the unlimited creativity of God. Secondly, the fact that such a storm can be observed, measured and catalogued for such a long period of time demonstrates the interractivity of the environment of our universe. Thirdly, the fact that the more we investigate objects like the Great Red Spot, the more information we keep finding. I’m not sure who coined this statement, but the statement goes something like this: “The greater amount the island of our knowledge grows, the greater length the shoreline of wonder grows.” Everyday, for at least 340 years, Astronomers have been training telescopes, sending space probes (like Voyager 1 and 2) and spending untold amounts of money to investigate objects such as this. Our appetite for wonder speaks of the source – God, who made us in His image to be satisfied by His glory.
Let me close with the verses we have studied thus far in this series – Psalm 19:1-2a “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 2 Day to day pours forth speech….” (NASB). To God be the glory!