Just a little history.
In March of 1830, almost 200 years ago, a young man named Joseph Smith, published a book that changed the world of a lot of people—The Book of Mormon.
A month later he organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
He was just 24 years old.
Two months later, in June 1830, he received by revelation “a vision of Moses”.
It’s an amazing revelation. I quote from Moses chapter one:
And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him…saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and …thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end ….And worlds without number have Icreated; (Moses 1: 2,3,4,33)
Now, in 1830, when Joseph walked out of his house at night at looked up in the Milky Way, he could see thousands of stars—and even some planets—with his naked eye. On a clear night, if he had known where to look, he could have seen the Andromeda nebula. A fuzzy star. Just between the constellations Cassiopeia and Pegasus. But beyond that, how deep the Universe extended and how vast, even scientists and astronomers had no idea.
For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them…. (Moses 1:35)
In November 1924—95 years after Joseph received this vision of Moses—an article appeared in the New York Times. News about an astronomer working with the largest telescope in the world at Mount Wilson observatory above Pasadena, California.
The astronomers’ name? Edwin Hubble.
Hubble had been studying the Andromeda nebula and with a stronger telescope he began to realize that Andromeda wasn’t just a nebula—a fuzzy star—but was an ‘island of stars’ outside our Milky Way galaxy. According to the New York Times (and I quote) these “spiral nebulae which appear in the heavens as swirling clouds are in reality distant stellar systems or island universes…and their number, is very great, amounting to hundreds of thousands…”
And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine. And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come, and there is no end to my works, neither to my words. (Moses 1: 37,38)
Think of it. Hundreds of thousands of galaxies outside our Milky Way galaxy?!
This was shocking news in the world of astronomy in 1924 and was strongly disputed by astronomers at Harvard and other institutions. But today we all know that Hubble was right. The Milky Way was not the only galaxy in the universe. When the Hubble telescope was launched into space in 1990 and we could see deeper into space than we had ever been able to see, we learned that there are not hundreds of thousands of galaxies. No, not even hundreds of millions. But hundreds of BILLIONS of individual galaxies like Andromeda and the Milky Way—each galaxy containing hundreds of billions of stars.
So I googled it. How many stars are there in the universe?
(By the way. The word ‘Google’. Do you know where that word comes from? From the number googol—which is the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. It’s a big number!)
According to google, there are a million trillion stars in the Universe. How can we understand a number like that?
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf stated in General Conference in October 2011:
“Astronomers have attempted to count the number of stars in the universe. One group of scientists estimates that the number of stars within range of our telescopes is 10 times greater than all the grains of sand on the world’s beaches and deserts. “
So, I googled it: How many potentially habitable planets are there in the Milky Way galaxy?
Astronomers at the University of Auckland, New Zealand claim that there are actually around 100 billion habitable, Earth-like planets just in our Milky Way galaxy. Think of that—100 billion planets in just one galaxy?!!! Now, expand that thought outward into the Universe, and there could be trillions of planets like ours.
How many is a trillion? It’s the number 1 followed by 12 zeroes. 1,000,000,000,000
Trillion. (It’s a number that only the federal government understands!)
Now, in about 1300 BC when Moses had his vision and saw the entire universe, his fellow Israelites looking at the night sky near Mount Sinai had no idea how powerful was this God who had inspired Moses to lead them out of Egypt. Or what his plan was for them.
And even in 1830 when Joseph Smith recorded Moses’ vision, his fellow Americans had no idea of the staggering vastness of the Universe.
And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that his glory was not upon Moses, and Moses was left unto himself. And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause, I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed. (Moses 1: 9,10)
Think of it. Even the great Moses realized that he was a nothing. A nobody.
During this mind-blowing experience Moses began to understand the omnipotence of God. He saw the earth teeming with life—all forms of life on our special earth. Not just human life, but animals, plants and fishes and all manner of creeping things.
Just how much life is there on this planet? How many distinct life forms—individual species of life? Thousands, right?
So, I googled it: “How many total life species are there on the earth?”
And the estimates range from 10 million to 100 million distinct, different, unique species or forms of life. And more being discovered every day.
Let’s just look at one category of life—the plant species:
500 years ago….”scientists estimated that there were 500 different types of plant species in the world. By 1623 this number had increased to 6,000. Today we know 9,000 species of grass alone, 2,700 types of palm trees, (in all) over 500,000 different plant species.” (The Organized Mind by Daniel J. Levitin, p. 15)
Think of it! 500,000 different species of just plants! Not to mention the animals!
But most estimates of the different species of life overlook microorganisms such as bacteria. When you include microorganisms…
“Researchers concluded that there are a staggering 1 trillion species on Earth.”
Trillion. There’s that big number again.
And that’s just what we see alive today. But the fossil record shows evidence of vast amounts of extinct species of life—triceratops and trilobites and pterodactyls and strange looking fossil fishes and ferns. Talk about Jurassic park!
What we see alive today is only 1% of what has existing on this planet. Or to say it another way, “It has been estimated that more than 99 per cent of all species that have ever lived on Earth are now extinct.”
This earth has been the scene of an extraordinary explosion of life. And all of these millions of species—however they got here—began in the mind of the God with whom Moses spoke, face to face.
And Moses saw this…absorbing it all at once.
No wonder he marveled and declared…
Now, I know that man is nothing…(Moses 1:10)
Yes, God created the galaxies…and the planets…and the animals…and the plants… But wait! There’s more.
And he beheld also the inhabitants thereof, and there was not a soul which he beheld not; and he discerned them by the Spirit of God; and their numbers were great, even numberless as the sand upon the sea shore. (Moses 1:28)
So I googled it. How many people have lived on the earth?
By one estimate over 107 billion people have taken a breath on this planet.
When Moses had his vision probably in the Sinai, there were people living all over the world. In India. In China. In Mesoamerica. In Babylon.
They lived in wildly creative and different civilizations…
… speaking 6,000 different languages…
…living and breathing and learning and discovering the secrets of the earth…
…and organizing their discoveries into so many divisions of specialized knowledge…
And out of these great numbers of human beings there were many noble and great ones. Not just intelligent leaders but brilliant scientists and creative geniuses….
Galileo, Aristotle, Newton, Einstein, Pasteur, Confucius, Beethoven, Mozart, Michelangelo, Shakespeare…and thousands more….
…to show us all just what is humanly possible.
And each of these 100 billion beings obtained a human body—which is a miracle in and of itself. With 11 intricate coordinating life systems…
Nervous system (brain)
Skeletal system (bones)
Endocrine system (glands)
Integumentary System (skin, nails)
Muscular system (muscles)
Cardiovascular system (heart)
Lymphatic system (white blood cells)
Respiratory system (lungs)
Urinary system (kidneys)
Reproductive system (sex organs)
Digestive system (stomach and intestines)
The body. Your body!
Your heart beats 100,000 times a day. Your lungs breathe 20,000 breaths a day. If you cut yourself, your body heals all by itself without a single conscious thought on your part.
So I googled it. “How many cells are there in the human body?”
According to the National Geographic…there are 37 trillion cells in a human body. (I’ve been trying to lose about 3 or 4 trillion cells myself here recently.)
There are as many cells in your body as there are stars in the universe.
And EACH of these trillions of cells contain what scientists call the human genome…the DNA program consisting of 3.2 billion tiny chunks of information—your genetic code—the instructions for creating you—the only you in the Universe.
Yes, EACH of your microscopically small cells is a more powerful than the most powerful supercomputer on earth.
And who designed that code? The Master Programmer.
Try to imagine it—if you can.
From the infinitesimally small human cell to infinitely vast universe.
Martin Luther wrote a song in the year 1429 based upon Psalm 46 in the Bible.
A mighty fortress is our God,
A tower of strength ne’er failing.
His might and pow’r are great.
He all things did create.
And he shall reign for evermore.
Our Father in Heaven is so much more than a Mighty Fortress!!!!
Let’s turn to Isaiah who lived about 600 years after Moses. A prophet like Moses who also saw visions like Moses. And this is what he says in Isaiah chapter 40. I quote from the New Living Translation
21 Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand?
Are you deaf to the words of God—
the words he gave before the world began?
Are you so ignorant?
22 God sits above the circle of the earth.
The people below seem like grasshoppers to him!
He spreads out the heavens like a curtain
and makes his tent from them.
23 He judges the great people of the world
and brings them all to nothing.
25 “To whom will you compare me?
Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.
26 Look up into the heavens.
Who created all the stars?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
A million. A billion. A trillion. A googol. An infinity.
These numbers are mind- boggling to us. But to Him? They are nothing.
And what did He do with this infinite power?
To Moses, he said it…
WOW! All of this. For us nobodies!
Innumerable! Unbelievable. Unfathomable! Inconceivable. Unimaginable. Incomprehensible.
As the psalmist says….
“Be in awe and know that I am God…” (Psalms 46:10) Awe-some.