Imagine sending a spacecraft 6.4 billion kilometres around our solar system, travelling for more than 10 years and arriving at a comet five kilometres wide hurtling around the sun at 135,000 kilometres per hour! That’s what the European Space Agency (ESA) achieved on August 6, 2014, when its spacecraft Rosettaarrived within 100 kilometres of the surface of Comet 67P.
In an article in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald, Australian engineer Warwick Holmes, who helped build Rosetta, said that “to have matched the speed and orbit of the comet is history in the making.”
This is the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet, some of the oldest material in the universe. Rosettawill not only study Comet 67P for one year, on November 12, 2014, while in orbit 30 kilometres above the comet’s surface, Philae, a small landing craft, detached from Rosetta and successfully made the first controlled touchdown onto the comet’s surface.
The mission was named after the famous Rosetta stone, located in the British Museum in London. With the same text written in Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script and Greek, the Rosetta stone was the key to unravelling the mysterious picture writings of ancient Egypt. In similar fashion, it’s hoped that the Rosettaspacecraft will unlock the mysteries of the oldest building blocks of our solar system—the comets.
In an interview with CBS News, ESA senior scientific advisor Mark McCaughrean said he hopes the project can uncover the answers to some “really big questions,” such as “where [did] we come from, where [did the solar system] we live in come from, how was it put together . . . and how did water get to our planet?”
Unfortunately, if scientists think they can find the answer to where life came from by empirical research, they will be disappointed. Life didn’t happen by chance. It came from God.
Memorial of Creation
One of the most important verses in the Bible, Genesis 1:1, says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Before everything else, there was God, who acts in history. The Creation story gives human beings both their place in the universe and a reason for their existence. God is infinite and sovereign; we are finite and dependent, yet personal like Him.
The seven-day weekly cycle finds its origin in the Bible, when God set apart the seventh day after creating this world. At the end of creation week, God rested on the seventh day and “blessed . . . and made it holy” (Genesis 2:1–3). Thus, the Sabbath has existed from the beginning of time on earth and it is not based on any natural phenomena, as are the day, month and year.
The fourth commandment presents the Sabbath as a memorial of Creation: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. . . . For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth” (Exodus 20:8, 11).
The Sabbath gives us the reason why we should worship God; why we should have “no other gods before” Him; why we should not worship idols; and why we should not misuse His name (Exodus 20:1–7). And the reason is simple: He is our Creator.
In addition to helping us remember Creation, the Sabbath commemorates deliverance and redemption. Moses said, “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:15).
Memorial of Redemption
It’s also important to note that after Jesus died on the cross, He rested on the Sabbath day in a tomb (Luke 23:54–56). Jesus was crucified on the sixth day (Friday), rested in the tomb on Sabbath (Saturday) and rose early on the first day (Sunday).
So important was the Sabbath to His followers that the female followers didn’t embalm His body on Friday, and they “rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment” (Luke 23:56).
Ellen White, in her best-selling classic on the life of Jesus, The Desire of Ages, wrote, “In the beginning the Father and the Son had rested upon the Sabbath after Their work of creation. . . . Now Jesus rested from the work of redemption. . . . A restored creation, a redeemed race, . . . the result to flow from Christ’s completed work. . . . With this scene the day upon which Jesus rested is forever linked.” Jesus had “completed the work of redemption.”
The Sabbath, as a memorial of creation and redemption, points to Jesus, who is both our Creator and our Saviour. It’s a weekly reminder of where we came from and what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins. We observe the Sabbath today as an act of worship and a response of love and gratitude to our wonderful Creator and Redeemer. The Sabbath is a symbol of our rest in Him, from our works, for salvation (see Hebrews 4:9, 10).
Answers to life’s big questions
McCaughrean is looking to the Rosetta to unlock the mysteries of life, but the answers are already found in the Bible—and the Sabbath answers the big questions about life.
Where did we come from? Life didn’t happen by chance and the past is not hazy. We were created by a loving God in His image, with individuality, personality and the power to think, choose and act independently. We are here by design, not by chance. Life is run by law, not by luck. That’s why the Sabbath—the memorial of Creation—is enshrined in the very heart of the Ten Commandments.
Why are we here? We were made for fellowship with God. The Sabbath is a weekly reminder of our dependence on and need to worship the Creator and put Him first. The world is in a mess today because people put self and things first instead of God. The friendship with God that sin broke was restored spiritually through Christ’s death on the cross and it will be restored literally when He comes again.
The significance of the Sabbath is that it represents our trust in Jesus both as our Saviour and as our Creator. Everyone who by faith accepts Jesus’ perfect sacrifice will be reunited in fellowship with God. Life takes on a new meaning for those who do this.
Where are we going? The future is not blank. The Sabbath points to an Eden restored. All those who accept Jesus as Lord are children of God and citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20). They will live with Him eternally when He comes back a second time.
Commenting on Rosetta’s arrival at the comet, McCaughrean said, “What a wonderful moment! We’re there. We’ve arrived.” Words cannot adequately describe how wonderful it will be when we arrive in heaven. Then we will see God’s face and worship Him from one Sabbath to another (Revelation 22:4; Isaiah 66:23).
Jesus, the Lamb
Just before the great Exodus, God struck down the firstborn of both the people and the animals in Egypt as a punishment for Pharaoh’s refusal to release the Israelites. He saved the Israelites from this certain death, however, through the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. This act of sacrifice hints at the deliverance from sin that Jesus would perform a few thousand years later.
Jesus is called “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) and the “Passover lamb [who] has been sacrificed”
(1 Corinthians 5:7).
The plan of salvation was not an afterthought. Jesus, who is God the Son, came to do the will of His Father and He completed the work He came to do (Matthew 26:39; John 5:30; 17:4). Significantly, Jesus’ sacrifice was planned “before the creation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20). As the apostle Paul says, “The hope of eternal life . . . [was] promised before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:2).
Christ did not yield up His life till He had accomplished the work He came to do and with His parting breath He exclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Though Jesus’ death seemed like a defeat, it was in reality a great victory, for by His death He broke the power that Satan had over the world and its inhabitants (Hebrews 2:14).
All sin—past, present and future—was paid for and provisionally forgiven at the Cross. This forgiveness is a reality for us when by faith we accept Jesus as our Saviour. God says He will “hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea,” remove them “as far as the east is from the west” and remember them “no more” (Micah 7:19; Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 43:25).