Apollo 8 Reminds Us that God Says the Earth is Good!
In December of 1968, the crew of the American spacecraft Apollo 8 became the first human beings to travel to and orbit the moon.Today we have grown used to seeing views of the earth from outer space, but back then it was the first moment mankind got to see what our planet looked like from heaven’s view.
The Apollo 8 crew as it swung around the far side of the moon was cut off from Earth for more than 30 minutes. Imagine for a moment how they felt;
- They couldn’t see Earth
- They couldn’t touch Earth
- They couldn’t communicate with anyone on Earth
Just three men hurtling through darkness at more than 10,000 miles per hour in a spacecraft the size of a large closet…cut off totally from the rest of humanity.
This experience led them on Christmas Eve night, in what was then the most watched television broadcast at the time, to read in turn from the Book of Genesis as they orbited the moon. Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman recited verses 1 through 10 from the King James Bible;
- Bill Anders
“We are now approaching lunar sunrise and, for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
- Jim Lovell
“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
- Frank Borman
“And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land earth; and the gathering together of the waters He called seas: and God saw that it was good. And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”
- There is a tendency in Christianity though to see “Earth” as something temporal, corrupted, and awaiting destruction. Negative attributes are sometimes described as “earthy” as opposed to the more noble qualities of “heaven”.
- In the wake of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut it’s good to be reminded, as the Apollo 8 crew did, that God sees the Earth as good.
- Is it any wonder that Moses, when he wrote of the world’s creation in the Book of Genesis, kept reenforcing to the readers that God considers the Earth good?
- Sun & Moon are good
- Land & Sea are good
- Plants & Animals are good
- Then God takes the dust of the Earth that he has declared to be good and mixes it with his divine breath to form man. N.T. Wright explains, Heaven & Earth are united in the creation of humanity; the bearers of God’s image in the new temple he’s created.
- Then God declares them not just to be good…but very good!
- Yes, corruption did enter that “goodness” but Jesus came to redeem and restore his creation, not destroy it.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?
But just don’t take my word for it. Take it from the Apollo 8 astronauts who saw Earth from the heavens and reminded us that God said it was good!
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