Astronomers have discovered an amazing object in the heavens. Some have dubbed it a “celestial cross.”
The most majestic and beautiful objects in the universe are the galaxies.
Awe-inspiring photographs of them grace the pages of astronomical photo collections, boggling the mind with their endless variation. Around their edges, they usually feature an array of spiral arms, or a gaseous nebulosity that thins into a tenuous curtain that stretches across the vastness of space.
But at the center of virtually every galaxy is a brilliant spheroid of light, made up of hundreds of thousands of stars. At the galaxy’s core, they are so closely spaced that they produced a uniform, powerful light that has the appearance of being solid. In reality, these myriad stars are gathered around an organizing framework. What structures lie within the impenetrable glare?
For many years, astronomers have conjectured that these close congregations of stars may conceal a sort of cosmic whirlpool, which has been dubbed a “black hole.” In theory, such a monster would be created when a super-massive star or star cluster collapses of its own weight into a super-dense mass with such enormous gravitational force that nothing – not even light – can escape its gravitational grip.
Since the theory was developed, they have been looking for the telltale signs that would mark such an anomaly. But nothing of the sort has been visible.
However, the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope spotted a peculiar formation in the center of the Whirlpool galaxy some 20 million light-years from earth. A startling photo was released during the second week of June 1992 and published in TIME magazine, in the June 22 edition.
The Hubble telescope, taking advantage of the fact that it doesn’t have to peer through a distorting atmosphere, has been able to see farther with more clarity than any optical telescope ever built.
In this photograph a mammoth “X” is seen at the galaxy’s center. According to TIME editors, “The scientists think one arm of the X is a massive, doughnut-shapped cloud of dust swirling around the hole. The doughnut is seen edge on, hiding the black hole from view, but two cone-shaped beams of light emitted by hot gas closer in can be seen escaping out the sides. As for the second arm, no one knows what it is.”
According to theory the escaping light is not from the black hole itself, but from energized particles of dust and gas that brighten as they approach the point of maximum acceleration on their spiraling, one-way trip into the maw of the black hole. Their great burst of light is a sort of final farewell to a universe that will never again witness their presence.
What is interesting is that the first time anyone has ever gotten a good, close look at a galactic center, it turns out to hold the sign that is of the greatest possible importance to humanity. In the Latin language, the word “crux” designates the cross. Planet earth came to the crossroads at the foot of the cross. Divine action designated this simple geometric shape as the symbol for decision.
Our words, “crucial,” “crucible,” and “ex-cruciating,” are all derived from the word “crux.” These words speak of the fiery forces that lie at the very heart and core of important events. They imply the pain and testing of weighty decisions made under stress and testing.
In the days of our Lord, the cross was reserved for criminals and those thought to be accursed by God. It depicted the suffering, shame and humiliation that Christ endured for the sake of a fallen humanity in need of redemption. The cross symbolizes that mission, voluntarily undertaken in submission to a God whose love reached out to those in need.
The cross is a sign that beams a message of truth into the soul of humanity almost devoid of that commodity. The meaning is as clear as it is convicting. If one has not had an encounter with the cross, one has never dealt with the Truth.
Many refuse to accept that truth, but we are told that one day a “sign” will appear over the earth, signaling that the Lord is coming to make manifest the work that was completed at the cross. Matthew 24, verses 29 and 30 mentions the return of the Lord, preceded by the greatest sign in the history of the planet.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light…then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven…they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Surely the sign mentioned here must be a reflection of that horrible instrument so essential in the final work of Christ. It will hang suspended between heaven and earth, a harbinger of the justice that is about to fall upon the world. Every man who sees it will instantly be reminded of the finished work of Christ. Guilt and conviction, like flames, will sear the heart and soul of every human being who ever rejected the cross as just another myth.
A curious cross has now been dimly perceived in the heavens. What it is, no one really knows. But like the cross of Christianity, it shines forth for those who will see it – who will still be brought to the point of decision about their eternal destiny. It shines dimly, sending forth a final message of hope – and warning.
It is a statement that there is still a little time – very little. And that is the crux of the matter.
Published from the archives of Dr. J.R. Church – March 2004 “Amazing Discoveries”