What is Man?

Chuck Smith

One of the unfortunate by-products of our urbanized society with its resultant air pollution and bright lights is that we cannot see the heavens very clearly anymore. I think that everyone who lives in an urban area should get away to the desert or mountains two or three times a year to look up and be reminded of the glory of heaven. Unfortunately, we forget about the vastness of the universe when we don’t see it fully. We begin to think of this world as being closed-in, but when we look at the heavens, we can realize how great the creation of God is!

The Bible declares that the glory of God is greater than the heavens themselves. The psalmist David said, “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who has set thy glory above the heavens… When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:1-4).

The sun, the work of God’s fingers, is 860,000 miles in diameter. It is so large that 1,200,000 Earths our size could be placed in it. Traveling at 11 1/2 miles per second through space, the sun was flung out by God’s hand.

Many stars, because of the density of their atoms, weigh much more than the sun. One of the dual stars of Sirius has such a high density, the number of atoms in a given volume, that one cubic inch weighs 1,725 pounds! Imagine what would happen if a rock�sized meteor from Sirius was laying on the ground in your path and you decided to kick it out of the way. Yet, as heavy as that star is, God has also spun it into orbit.

Our sun is one of the billions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. This galaxy measures about 10,000 light years wide and 100,000 light years long. In other words, if you could travel on a beam of light at a speed of 186,000 miles per second, you could circle the earth 7 1/2 times in just one second. Then, leaving the Earth at this speed, you could sail past the moon in 1 1/4 seconds and past the sun in 7 1/2 minutes. However, it would take you about 4 1/2 years to reach the nearest star, Alpha Centauri. To cross the width of the Milky Way Galaxy would take you 10,000 years and to cross the length would take you 100,000 years. If you then wanted to go to the nearest galaxy, Andromeda, you’d have to travel at the speed of light for 1 1/2 million years!

This vast universe contains billions of galaxies, one of which is the Milky Way Galaxy. In this galaxy there are billions of stars, and one of these stars we called the sun. Revolving around this star are the nine planets of the Solar System, one of which is called Earth. This planet is 7,926.7 miles in diameter at the equator, revolving around the sun at 19 miles per second, rotating on its axis at 1,000 miles per hour, traveling with the sun in its giant orbit at 11 1/2 miles per second, and (as some astronomers theorize) traveling at approximately 179 miles per second with the Milky Way. Imagine, as we just sit here, all these motions are going on!

If you have ever spun a top, you know that it can spin for a long time, but ultimately it slows down and stops. I don’t know how the Lord started the planet Earth spinning, but I do know He keeps it spinning�and it’s not slowing down! God has ordained it and set it all in motion.

“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man that thou art mindful of him?” This little planet Earth, as a part of a group of planets revolving around the sun, a part of a galaxy called the Milky Way, which is only one of billions of galaxies, contains billions of living creatures. Among these billions of living creatures is our species called man, of which there are almost four billion.

God wants to bless you. Open your heart and receive His love!

It must have blown the mind of David when he realized that God’s glory is greater than the heavens! He states, “0 Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who has set thy glory above the heavens.” Then David added, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” God is mindful of this little creature called man on this little planet. Earth is in this little Solar System, part of the Milky Way Galaxy, a part of this vast universe, all of which is a work of His fingers. The fact that God is mindful of me just amazes me! The Creator of this universe is conscious and mindful of me, His creation, here on this planet!

“What is man?” First of all, he is body. But the body elements aren’t worth very much. With inflation, they are now probably worth about $2.26 in raw chemicals. Earlier, I made reference to the fact that the density of matter is determined by the atoms per unit volume. Our bodies are made up of atoms which have a nucleus of protons and neutrons with tiny electrons whirling around it. If you could stop these electrons from whirling, they would draw into the center of the mass of the nucleus. If all the atoms in your body collapsed like this, you would immediately disappear. There is so much empty space in these atoms that you’d be smaller than a speck of dust; in fact, it would take a microscope to see you. All of us are made up of these blown�up atoms.

However, the Bible teaches that man is more than body. It teaches that man is a soul and a spirit. The body is called a “tent” in the Scriptures, because it is the temporary dwelling place of the spirit. Paul the apostle said, “For we know that if our earthly tent were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5: 1). When these tents in which we’re now living return to the dust from which they were made, by the grace of God, our spirits move out. God then has another place of habitation for our spirits�not tents but houses.

“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” God isn’t mindful of me in some abstract way, He’s mindful of me in a personal way. He knows when I get up in the morning and go to bed at night. He knows when some sound awakens me in the middle of the night. He who knows my thoughts, and also understands my dusty frame (Psalm 103:14); and yet, knowing my weaknesses and my failings, He still loves me!

Sometimes, Satan lays a trip on us. He tells us that once we have made a mistake or failed, or because we may continually fail, God wants nothing to do with us. Satan would have us believe that God is no longer interested in us. But God knows our frames, that we are but dust. God also knows our hearts, and the real intentions of our hearts and lives.

When you have a little child who is just learning to walk, you let the child grasp on to your fingers and steady him as he walks. Then, when you feel that he’s steady enough, you let go of his fingers. The child may really be attempting to take that first step, but he may fall right away, because he isn’t coordinated enough to walk yet. When this happens, you don’t pick him up and scold him, saying, “You rotten little kid! Why don’t you walk?” You don’t punish him for falling. You grab him and hold him close. You encourage him, saying, “That’s okay, angel. Let’s try again.” You assure him of your love.

As long as the child is trying, you continue to encourage him and love him. Even though he may fail a hundred times, you don’t toss the child out. You don’t get rid of him just because he has failed. In the same way, God knows when you’re trying; and, if you do fail, God doesn’t discard you and say, “Oh, I get so sick of you!” He picks you up and holds you close, then dusts you off and says, “Come on now, let’s try again.”

On the other hand, you may have a teenager sitting in the room. If you say, “Come over here. I want to show you something,” and he replies, “No, I don’t want to, and you can’t make me,” you may want to pop his head off because he’s being rebellious. There’s a difference of attitude between the baby and the teenager. One is an attitude of weakness: wanting to do something but not being able to, the other is an attitude of rebellion: having the ability to do something and not wanting to. If you want to serve God but lack the ability, don’t be afraid that God is going to be angry at you! God loves you! He knows your frame. He knows how uncoordinated you are spiritually. God looks upon us with love because we’re His children. As a father pities his child who is learning to walk, so our heavenly Father looks upon us, His children, with pity.

However, if we’re in open rebellion against God, saying, “I don’t want to do it! I won’t do it! You can’t make me do it!” He may prove to us that He can make us do it, just as a father may prove to his teenage son that he can make him come across the room.

“What is man?” Generally, man is a rebellious little creature. He’s down here on this little planet, shaking his fist at his Creator and saying, “I don’t want to follow Your rules! I’ll live just as I please! You can’t make me live the way You want me to! I’ll do what I want!” This is man, a little speck of dust, shaking his dusty fist at the Creator of the universe. How foolish it is to rebel against the Creator!

“What is man that thou art mindful of him?” The question is unanswerable. But God is not only mindful of me, He came to visit me: “And the son of man, that thou visitest him.” The Gospel of John begins:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made… He was in the world, and the world was made by Him and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name… And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,(and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth” (John 1:1 � 14).

God’s visiting man is a marvelous mystery, but the blindness of man’s rebellion is a tragedy. Rebellion will always blind you. It is always folly to be in rebellion against God . Here is little man rebelling against his Creator. His Creator came to visit him, but man didn’t even recognize Him. Even though the world was made by Him, the world knew Him not.

Psalm 8 continues in prophecy of Jesus Christ and His visit to Earth. “For Thou has made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet.” In Hebrews 2:8 this psalm is quoted in reference to Jesus Christ. God has placed all things in subjection unto Jesus Christ, giving Him the authority over all of His created work. However, at the end of this passage the writer of Hebrews declares, “But now we do not yet see all things put under him.”

The heavens do declare the glory of God… but only Jesus Christ declares the fullness of God’s love for man.

As we look around in the world today, we do not see everything in subjection to Jesus Christ. In fact, we see a world in rebellion against His authority. Even as Christians. our flesh sometimes rebels against Him, but there is coming a day when God shall place all authority in Jesus Christ. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father (Isaiah 45:23; Rom. 14; Phil. 2:10). We do not yet see all things in subjection, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor” (Heb. 2:9).

May God help us to see beyond the rebellion around us and beyond the rebellion of our own flesh, and may we, this day, see Jesus! May we, this day, crown Him with many crowns, the Lord upon His throne. May we, this day, submit ourselves to His authority and to His will. May we bow our knee to His scepter and worship at His feet. May we enter into the glories of the kingdom of God by submitting ourselves to Jesus Christ, the King. May we see Jesus and, when we do, may we say with David, “0 Jehovah our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth! Who has set Thy glory above the heavens?”

What is man that God would think of him? Yet He did. What is man that God should redeem him? Yet He has. What is man that God should want him? Yet He does. What is man that God should save him and make him His own throughout eternity? Yet He has!

The question we should be asking is not, “What is man?” but, “What is God?” He is infinite grace, infinite love, infinite goodness.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

The above article, “What is Man?” is written by Chuck Smith. The article was excerpted from pages 9-16 of Smith�s book Answers for Today.

The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.