Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord. Obadiah 4 (NIV).
Continuing on the theme that nobody is too big to fall down, consider the American space program.
The American manned space program began with Project Mercury, which put Americans in space from 1959-1963. Mercury taught astronauts how to perform basic tasks with spaceflight. Mercury was followed by Project Gemini, which launched ten two-man crews into orbit so that sixteen different men could learn to perform more complex tasks in space in preparation for traveling to the Moon. Gemini was then followed by the Apollo Moon Program, which sent thirty-one men into space, including missions to and from the Moon. After the Apollo program concluded, nine men flew to Skylab in 1973-74, then another three on the joint US-Soviet Union Apollo-Soyuz mission of 1975. Six years later, the space shuttle began to take people into space, flying 355 people over a thirty-year period. Last, starting in 2020, the SpaceX program has successfully launched six people to the International Space Station. Not counting people launched by the Russians, as of today, the United States has sent 426 people into space, twelve of them to the Moon.
Yet all of this happened at a high cost. Between 1967 and 2003, 17 people were killed in space flight activities. The first three Apollo astronauts were killed in the 1967 Apollo 1 fire. In 1986, all seven astronauts were killed when the space shuttle Challenger exploded. Finally, the space shuttle Columbia broke apart over Texas in 2003, killing its crew of seven as well. In every new endeavor, lives are often lost, and space exploration is no different; the Russians won’t even say how many cosmonauts have died. But you can’t be brought any lower than to die, to pay the ultimate price while trying to attain the highest heights.
Did God cause those deaths? No, not likely. Yet it’s hard to say that man’s pride isn’t partly responsible. In all three tragedies, safety deficiencies were fully or responsibilities. “Safety deficiencies” equal “hubris.”
Hubris is what Edom was guilty of. When Obadiah prophesied that God would bring Edom down, he was prophesying that God would break their hubris; He would crush their pride. If doing that destroyed Edom as a power, as Abraham Lincoln quoted, “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
So it was with Edom. So it is with us. I admire those who fly into space. Theirs is a courageous trade and they are some of the greatest of Americans. Space is our future, and they are heroic pioneers. I only hope that those who built their spacecraft shed their hubris.
For further reading: Job 20:6, Psalm 19:9, Isaiah 10:14, Isaiah 14:13, Obadiah 5
Lord Jesus, Your judgments are true and righteous altogether
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