Many people have the impression that the Church is God’s institution and that the government is not. Consequently, the Church must abide by the Bible in all matters, but the government must stay away from religious matters. After all, isn’t there a separation of Church and state? In reality, both the Church and the state are God’s institutions and both are morally obligated to abide by biblical principles. When a government functions in the way God has specified, it is a blessing to all the people. But a government that will not follow biblical principles inevitably becomes a tyrannical “beast” that oppresses its own citizens.
Some of the smallest members of our solar system have been known since antiquity. Comets were very mysterious objects to the ancient world. They had an unusual “hairy” appearance. Unlike planets, comets seemed to follow no predictable path. They appeared at an unpredictable time, brightened and moved in unpredictable ways, and faded into oblivion. Many cultures considered comets to be omens.
On January 1, 1801, the Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi discovered a new ‘planet’ in between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. What a great way to bring in the new year! Named Ceres, this new world was far smaller than the other seven planets (Neptune had not yet been discovered). Even the most powerful telescopes of the time could not discern any sizeable disk; the object resembled a star. Piazzi initially thought that Ceres might be a comet. The central nucleus of a comet indeed looks point-like in a telescope. But Ceres was not surrounded by a coma – a cloud that typically surrounds the nucleus of a comet. Nor did it have a tail. Further observations revealed a fairly circular orbit, typical of a planet but unlike any comet.