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FORWARD Fun With Numbers

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The latest studies estimate that instead of 100 sextillion stars, there may be as many as 300 sextillion—that is 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 ("Starry Starry Starry Night: Star Count May Triple," Associated Press, Dec. 1, 2010).

This begs two questions: one, how many stars is that really? And two, why would God even care about a sparrow falling from the sky or know the number of hairs on our head, if we appear to be so insignificant in the great scheme of things in the awesome cosmos?

The psalmist asked that very question: "Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him?" (Psalm 144:3). With all that exists, why would God be mindful of you and me?

Equally amazing is this promise in the book of Hebrews that you and I will inherit this vast universe! "'You have put all things in subjection under his feet.' For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him" (Hebrews 2:8). What we are reading here is that soon, "but…not yet," we will inherit all things. This includes our giant universe.

To help answer my first question—how many stars is that really?—think of it in these terms. Harvard astrophysicist Charlie Conroy commented in the Associated Press article, "'It's fun because it gets you thinking about these large numbers.'

"Conroy looked up how many cells are in the average human body—50 trillion or so—and multiplied that by the 6 billion people on Earth. And he came up with about 300 sextillion. So the number of stars in the universe 'is equal to all the cells in the humans on Earth—a kind of funny coincidence,' Conroy said" ("Starry Starry Starry Night: Star Count May Triple" Associated Press, Dec. 1, 2010).
A very interesting comparison, for sure! Of all the human cells on this planet, of the speculated 300 sextillion stars in the universe, God has a plan for each one of us. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16)—an everlasting life with an inheritance that includes the vast physical universe and the spirit world beyond that.

Thank God every day for your calling and promised inheritance. The good news of God's Kingdom certainly is that—exciting, good news. May we effectively preach the gospel to all nations as Christ commanded, offering a message of hope to this dying world with a vision of the world to come—and beyond into eternity. UN