For what purpose did God create the vast universe?
“Our solar system is certainly a prerequisite for our existence,” wrote Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time. “But there does not seem to be any need for all these other galaxies.”
That encapsulates a lot of human reasoning about God’s creation: If it doesn’t make sense to us, there must be no sense to it.
A leading physicist and theoretical cosmologist at Princeton University named James Peebles “compared scientists attempting to comprehend the universe with slightly befuddled kindergarten children, while nature is a patient teacher ‘who keeps presenting us with hints, we’re still not getting the point, but at least we’re working toward it’” (Modern Maturity, October-November 1988).
It is a fitting analogy. Let’s exercise a little humility. Clearly God took great pains to create the universe just so. He did so with deliberate intent and sound reasoning.
The material universe itself does not explain itself. We must consult God’s scriptural revelation to see the purpose for which He created the universe as He did.
Once we do so, an awesome and inspiring dimension to our understanding of the cosmos opens up. It is so magnificent, it strains the very limits of our imagination!
Incredible Human Potential
The late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote extensively about the Bible’s answer to this question. One of his most thorough scriptural explanations is found in The Incredible Human Potential. We will send you a free copy of this extraordinary book upon request. Here is an excerpt that provides the basic scriptural outline.
In Psalm 8 King David looked at the universe and asked the Creator, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? … Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas” (verses 4, 6-8).
David marveled that God had given man this entire wonderful planet. “David here limits man’s dominion to the present—that which God gave mankind in the creation of man—the solid earth, the Earth’s atmosphere, and the waters and sea (as in Genesis 1:26-28),” Mr. Armstrong explained. “That is the dominion man has now. In the New Testament, written much later, far more is revealed.” It shows, in fact, that Earth isn’t even the start of it.
Mr. Armstrong then looked at a parallel passage in Hebrews 2:
In the book of Hebrews we read: “For unto the angels hath he [God] not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak” (Hebrews 2:5). The theme of the context here is “the world to come.”
There is but one Earth, but the Bible speaks of three worlds, ages, or civilizations on the Earth—the “world that then was” (the antediluvian world from Adam to Noah); this “present evil world” (from the Flood until Christ’s return, yet future); and “the world to come” (which starts when Christ comes and sets up the Kingdom of God). …
[B]ear in mind the general theme here, or context, is “the world to come, whereof we speak”—not this present age, now coming rapidly to its end! Continue on in verse 6: “But one in a certain place testified, saying ….” Then follows a quotation from the first six verses only of the eighth Psalm.
In this psalm, David continued showing specifically that God has now placed in subjection under man the solid earth, the Earth’s atmosphere or air, and the sea. But now the writer of the book of Hebrews is inspired to follow with something radically different—something to happen in the world to come!
This revealed knowledge of God’s purpose for mankind—of man’s incredible, awesome potential—staggers the imagination. Science knows nothing of it—no religion reveals it, so far as I know—and certainly higher education is in utter ignorance of it.
Nevertheless, it is what God says He has prepared for them that love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). …
[L]et’s see what is said in this passage in Hebrews, beginning where Hebrews leaves off quoting the eighth Psalm: “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his [man’s] feet. For in that he [God] put all in subjection under him [man], he [God] left nothing that is not put under him” (Hebrews 2:8).
Is it possible God could mean what He says (“all things”)? Nothing excluded?
In the first chapter, the Moffatt translation of the Bible renders the Greek word translated “all things” as “the universe.”
In other words, for those willing to believe what God says, He says that He has decreed the entire universe—with all its galaxies, its countless suns and planets—everything—will be put under man’s subjection.
That’s not just Mr. Armstrong saying that. Your Bible says God has put mankind over the universe!
Mr. Armstrong continued:
But wait a moment! Before you disbelieve, read the next words in the same eighth verse: “But now we see not yet all things [the endless universe] put under him [man].” Remember (verse 5), this is speaking of the “world to come”—not today’s world. But what do we see now, today? “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels [or, “for a little while lower”] for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour …” (verse 9). Man, other than Christ, is not yet “crowned with glory and honour.”
But see how Christ is already crowned with glory and honor. Continue: “For it became him, for whom are all things [the entire universe] and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. [F]or which cause he [Christ] is not ashamed to call them brethren” (verses 10-11).
In other words, Christians having God’s Spirit are joint-heirs with Christ to inherit all that Christ already has inherited. He is now in glory! He has already inherited the entire universe. He sustains it by His power. Man, if he is converted, having God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9), is now only an heir—not yet a possessor.
But see now how Christ already has been crowned with glory and honor—and is already in possession—has already inherited. Begin with Hebrews, chapter 1: “God … [h]ath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things [the entire universe], by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding [sustaining] all things [the entire universe] by the word of his power …” (verses 1-3).
The living Christ already sustains the entire universe by His limitless divine power. The passage continues to show His superiority over the angels—He is the begotten and born Son of God—angels are merely individually created beings. Angels are now administering spirits (invisible to us), ministering to us—to us who are now in lower status than angels—but who are heirs of salvation, when we, like Christ, shall become born sons of God (verses 4-14).
Do you see why God stretched out that vast—and presently unused—universe?
What Creation Is Waiting For
Mr. Armstrong’s explanation continued:
Now put this together with what is revealed in the eighth chapter of Romans.
Here it speaks of Christ as God’s Son: “… that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). Humans having God’s Holy Spirit are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—who, alone of all humans, has already been born as God’s Son by a resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4). He is the first of the human family to be born into the Family of God—the Kingdom of God. He is our Pioneer who has gone on before. We shall follow at the resurrection of the just at Christ’s return to Earth in supreme power and glory.
This eighth chapter of Romans, verse 9, says if we have within us the Holy Spirit of God we are His begotten sons, but if we do not have His Spirit we are none of His—not Christians at all. But verse 11 says that if we have God’s Holy Spirit growing within and leading us we shall be raised from the dead by His Spirit (or if living when Christ comes we shall be changed from mortal to immortal).
Now continue: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. … The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we [in this life] suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:14-18).
Continue, Revised Standard Version: “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation [all the suns, planets, stars, moons] was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation [stars, suns and moons now in decay and futility] has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation but we ourselves [we Spirit-begotten humans], who have the first fruits of the Spirit [the very few now being called to salvation—the “firstfruits”] groan inwardly as we wait for [the birth] as sons …” (verses 19-23).
What an amazing marvelous revelation of knowledge!
No more amazing, awesome, eye-opening passage could be written!
It is so astonishingly revealing, one doesn’t fully grasp it just reading quickly through.
First I quoted from verse 29 of Romans 8 stating Christ was the firstborn of many brethren.
In Hebrews 1, we see that Christ, the first human to be born by a resurrection from the dead, has been glorified and now sustains the entire universe. He is our Pioneer who has gone on ahead. At His return to Earth in power and glory those who have been converted and received God’s Holy Spirit shall be born into the God Family by a resurrection. Then the entire universe will be put into subjection under them!
Then, from Romans 8, if we have and are led by the Holy Spirit of God, we shall be raised to spirit composition and immortality in the God Family even as Christ was in a.d. 31 upon His resurrection.
Now once again from verse 19, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (rsv). This shall happen at the time of the resurrection, when those who are human actually become—by a resurrection or instantaneous change from mortal flesh to spirit immortality—sons of God.
Now understand please. Why should the whole universe—the creation—be waiting with eager longing for the actual birth and appearing of all these sons of God to be born into the Family of God? The following verses portray a universe filled with planets in decay and futility—yet as if subjected now to this dead state in hope! “[B]ecause the creation itself [the universe not now capable of sustaining life] will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (verse 21; rsv).
Look at the Hubble Space Telescope images. What do you see? Wonder and beauty, yes. But also coldness and fire and lifelessness. Mr. Armstrong concluded:
Could the whole universe have been created capable of sustaining life? We are not told specifically by revelation in God’s Word whether it was or not, but what we are told throws additional light on why God decided to create man! …
This passage indicates precisely what all astronomers and scientific evidence indicates—the suns are as balls of fire, giving out light and heat; but the planets, except for this Earth, are in a state of death, decay and futility—but not forever—waiting until converted humans are born the children of God; born into the very divine Family of God, forming the Kingdom of God. …
Put together all these scriptures I have used in this chapter, and you begin to grasp the incredible human potential. Our potential is to be born into the God Family, receiving total power! We are to be given jurisdiction over the entire universe!
What are we going to do then? These scriptures indicate we shall impart life to billions and billions of dead planets, as life has been imparted to this Earth. We shall create, as God directs and instructs. We shall rule through all eternity! Revelation 21 and 22 show there will then be no pain, no suffering, no evil, because we shall have learned to choose God’s way of good. It will be an eternal life of accomplishment, constantly looking forward in super-joyous anticipation to new creative projects, and still looking back also on accomplishments with happiness and joy over what shall have been already accomplished.
We shall never grow tired and weary. Always alive—full of joyous energy, vitality, exuberant life and strength and power!
What a potential!
Mr. Armstrong wrote those stirring words back in 1978.
In light of the Hubble telescope’s discoveries since then, they are now more inspiring than ever.
To be given jurisdiction over the entire universe becomes a bigger and more awesome job with each new revelation of just what is out there!
‘That I May Plant the Heavens’
One of the most inspiring verses in the Bible is Isaiah 45:18. “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.”
Will you believe God? Put this verse together with Hebrews 1 and Romans 8. God says that the universe—not just the Earth—was designed to be inhabited. It wasn’t created in vain, to be simply an ornament. It was created for a purpose.
The purpose for the vast, incredible universe is to be inhabited! God created it, like Earth, for mankind. Man’s ultimate destiny lies out in the stars.
In Isaiah 51:16, God says, “And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.”
God intends to “plant the heavens.” Think about what that is saying. When you plant something, that means you are laying down seeds that you expect to grow into a crop. This Hebrew word, nata, is the same word used in Genesis 2:8 to say that God planted a garden in Eden. Noah planted a vineyard in Genesis 9:20. Abraham planted a tree in Genesis 21:33. Isaiah 51:16 tells us that God is going to plant the heavens—the abode of the stars—the universe! He is going to seed it with life, expecting that it will grow into a greater, more impressive harvest in time!
This represents God’s ultimate plan. He is using this Earth to prepare us for that future. Then, once we are ready, He will plant the heavens. That is what He created them for!
And this verse shows us—astoundingly—that God is going to use human beings to help accomplish this majestic purpose. In the next chapter, we will explore how.
The universe is waiting for you.
Why Not Yet?
If God plans to give us the whole universe some day, why not now?
For the answer, just look around. How do people treat each other? How do we treat this Earth? Violence, selfishness, depression, arguing, greed, corruption, pollution—these evils define our world today. If we colonized the moon, we would bring our evil human nature right along with us. Before you know it, various groups would be warring over lunar real estate.
God knows we’re not ready!
That is why He made us physical, mortal beings.
The angels are immortal—they cannot die. Those who failed at their responsibility are forever doomed to unhappiness.
Unlike the angels, if we fail, we will simply die and return to the dust of the ground, from which we came (Genesis 3:19). But if, after a life of test and trial, we prove ourselves, and God knows He can depend on us to obey Him—thenHe will give us the gift ofeternal life!
At that point, the training ground of our physical lives will have served its purpose, and we will be made into spirit beings. “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed … the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53). We will actually have the same glorious spirit body that God has (Philippians 3:21).
Why did God create us after His likeness—to look like Himself? (Genesis 1:26). Because He is actually fashioning us into spirit-born sons of God!
Those who are transformed into spirit essence will look like Christ. “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Romans 6:5). “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:49).
A description of Jesus Christ in His glorified form is given in Revelation 1:14-16. To be joint heirs along with Jesus Christ and to actually look as He does, with our faces shining as bright as the sun, is difficult to comprehend. But this is exactly what God has promised to give His sons who overcome! (Revelation 21:7). And God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).
God wants us to be in His Family—to have the same powers of thinking, planning, designing, creating and traveling through the universe that He Himself has! “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what weshallbe: but we know that, when he shall appear, WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
It is when we have grown to possess the same perfect character God has, and are trustworthy enough to begin expanding out into space with a constructive, peaceful, law-abiding lifestyle of productivity and love, that God’s ambitious plans for populating the universe can be realized.