Have you ever wondered how many stars there are in the heavens? Yesterday I was preparing a talk for children on the topic of the Christmas Star, and I thought to compare the number of stars to the number of grains of sand on all of the beaches on earth to make this vast number easier for them to grasp. On first thought, both would seem to be almost countless, especially if you look up at the stars in a night sky when there are no city lights to hide their glory.
As I wondered how to answer to my question, my fingers were drawn to my computer where I neatly typed out my inquiry in the Google search box. As usual there was no shortage of answers. After reviewing several, I found one at this address: http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/539329.html
The answer took my breath away! The number of stars and of sand grains is about the same!! To reach this conclusion, the investigators used information obtained from photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope to determine how many stars there are in our Milky Way Galaxy (~400 billion) and then multiplied this by the apparent number of galaxies in the universe (~80 billion). The approximate number of stars is 32 followed by 21 zeros!
As for the number of grains of sand, the volume of a grain of sand was measured to be 1 cubic millimeter. If you multiply that by the estimated length of all of the earth’s shorelines, multiply that by the percentage that are covered by sand beaches, and then multiply that by the estimated width (30 meters) and depth (5 meters) of an average beach, you get ~ 1 followed by 19 zeros.
As amazing as the fact that these 2 numbers are very close together (they may be even closer since these are only rough estimates) is that these numbers were said to be about the same 3,000 years ago! In the Bible in the book of Genesis it states that God had promised Abraham, the father of the Jewish race, that He would, “multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore.” (Genesis 22:17) This implies that these numbers are about the same! The Hubble Space Telescope and knowledge of the earth’s shoreline from satellite images gave us the same answer in the year 2006 as was suggested in the Bible millennia before. Now that’s a remarkable book!
From a remarkable book we would also expect further truths. What else do we find in the Bible to guide us in this season of Thanksgiving? We discover who it is that we should be thanking! Instead of expressions of gratitude to an unknown recipient, the Bible contains the following statement in Psalm 100:
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
Here’s wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!