Can Jesus Christ be found in the book of Psalms? Find out with guest General Charlie Duke and hosts Tim Moore and Nathan Jones on the television program, Christ in Prophecy!
Air Date: May 22, 2022
Key Verse Commentary
Psalm 139 — “God’s Omnis”
The Psalms offer a go-to book of praise and worship to the Lord. Comprising 150 hymns written in Hebrew, they convey a broad range of human emotions and capture doctrinal truths that point to God’s sovereignty and goodness.
Throughout, the Psalms also drive a stake in the “Omnis of God” as we discussed in our episode highlighting Psalm 139. We know that God is Omniscient (He knows all things), Omnipotent (invincible and all-powerful), and Omnipresent (everywhere at all times without limitations). Those words cannot be applied to any created being.
In this tender but expansive Psalm, David begins with a statement of utter self-awareness: he understands that God knows him intimately, whatever he is doing or wherever he goes. He recognizes that God knows what he is going to say before the words even escape his lips. He realizes that God formed him in the womb of his mother and oversaw all the days of his life before he was even born.
It is hard for our minds to fathom a being so unbound by space and time as we are. Indeed, we cannot fathom God’s power or knowledge or holiness. Our minds are far too limited to comprehend it all. We simply have to accept by faith that “God’s thoughts are above our thoughts and His ways are above our ways” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
With that in mind, God has revealed certain mysteries to us. He has provided a means of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ—Who is also the manifest Presence of God on the earth.
If you know Christ, then your heart should resound with praise for our soon-returning King.
Key Verse: Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.
Explanation: Having keyed on the broad sweep of Psalm 139 relative to “God’s Omnis” (His Omniscience, His Omnipotence, and His Omnipresence), this verse captures the risky tension we live in as followers of Christ.
We embrace His offer of salvation as presented in the Gospel: that Jesus came to earth, lived a sinless life, was crucified for our sins, and was raised to life everlasting as a demonstration of His power over death. Confessing our sinfulness (let alone our sins), we place all our trust in Him to forgive our sins and bring us to His Father’s house to dwell with Him forever. The Gospel is wonderful because it is based entirely on grace. I cannot earn my salvation; it is given to me as an unmerited gift of God—paid for by the precious blood of Christ.
This verse conveys the reality that God knows our hearts. As followers of Christ, we proactively invite Him to try us and know us, purging us of any anxious thoughts or hurtful ways. On that note, there is no dark recess of my mind that is off limits to God. Whether we dive to the depths of the sea or take flight into the heavens and venture to the backside of the Moon where communication with earth is not possible, God is still there.
In our study of Leviticus, we emphasized the tension that exists in close proximity to the living God. We want to draw near to Him but doing so can be perilous if there be any lingering sin in our lives. Once we put our faith in Jesus Christ, praise be to God, all our sins are forgiven. However, the lifelong process of eradicating the leaven of sin from our lives—and becoming more Christlike in our attitude and our speech and our outlook and our service—can be painful. Fortunately, Jesus is a gentle shepherd who guides up upward to higher pastures with great care.
So, do not delay in trusting in the Lord as your Savior and turning your life over to Him. And, once you do, realize that like a potter He is going to continually shape you into the vessel He wants you to be. Throughout that process you’ll have the blessing of being an instrument in His hands to pour out blessing on others. As we like to say, you’ll be a conduit instead of merely a reservoir. He will hold you and keep you—”leading you on the everlasting way” until you arrive at your eternal home with Jesus.
Tim Moore: Greetings in the name of Jesus our soon returning King and welcome to Christ in Prophecy! I’m Tim Moore, the Senior Evangelist of Lamb & Lion Ministries.
We’ve arrived at the book of Psalms, a collection of hymns that were written to be sung in Hebrew. David and Asaph and the sons of Korah were the gifted musicians and song writers inspired by the Holy Spirit to capture the whole range of human experience and emotion and focus it into praise for the LORD God.
We’ll spend a couple of weeks in the book of Psalms, but today we want to lead off with a Psalm that has always been a great comfort to the people of God, it testifies to His omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence, meaning that He is everywhere, knows everything, and has the power to bring His own perfect will to pass.
Until the past century, believers could cite the words of Psalm 139 and affirm their poetic meaning. But phrases like “If I ascend to heaven,” or “If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea” did not reflect reality as people could understand. That changed in the 20th Century, when men first dove to the deepest depths of the oceans and took flight, soaring into and even beyond the air itself.
Today’s guest has experienced first-hand the truth of David’s Psalm and will testify that even in the heights of heaven, God is there.
Part 1 – Interview with General Charlie Duke
Tim Moore: Well, again welcome to this episode of Christ in Prophecy. Our guest today is someone very special, Brigadier General Charlie Duke, who actually served as one of the first Apollo Astronauts, he landed and walked on the moon. But many of you will be familiar with Charlie, or at least his voice, because he was the voice of CapCom when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on Apollo 11’s mission in the summer of 1969. As a matter of fact, you’ll remember even his words. And for those of you who are not familiar with CAPCOM that stands for Capsule Communicator, meaning he was the connection between Mission Control at Houston, and the astronauts hurling through outer space. And so, Charlie I’m so delighted to have you on with us today for this episode of Christ in Prophecy.
Charlie Duke: Thank you so much. It is good to be with you.
Tim Moore: Well, and I say Charlie, really Brigadier General Duke to me. You served in the Air Force after starting out in the Navy, so shall I call you General Duke, or Charlie? Which one?
Charlie Duke: Charlie, that’s my name.
Tim Moore: Alright, Sir, well, I tell the folks the same thing. The Lord is going to call me Tim, so please don’t call me anything else. Well, I obviously am fascinated by your own history as both a pilot and an astronaut. And as I said you graduated from the Naval Academy, but you saw the light and crossed commissioned to the Air Force and then became a pilot. Tell us a little bit about that part of your life.
Charlie Duke: Well, I’d gone to the Naval Academy in 1953 was my plebe year. And it wasn’t an Air Force Academy, so I selected the Naval Academy because my dad was in the Navy during World War II. And from there I fell in love with airplanes, and I decided that Naval Aviation or Air Force? And I was leaning the Air Force but the Navy was a possibility. But the doctor on my senior first class physical, to get a commission said to me, “Midshipman, you have a stigmatism in your right eye, and you don’t qualify for Naval Aviation, but the Air Force will take you.” So, into the Air Force I went and I never looked back.
Tim Moore: Well, we are glad, those of us in the Air Force, because we are glad to have you. And obviously the Lord had a plan for you and He brought you to where He needed you to be. You also realized early in your career as an Air Force officer, as a pilot that additional education would open doors for you. So, not just in the Air Force, but beyond you ended up going to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT and pursued advance education. So, the Lord was preparing you for other opportunities down the road even then.
Charlie Duke: Yeah, I look back on that day and that is a very interesting decision I made. I could have extended it, my fighter squadron in Germany for another year, and they started coming home in ’62 and I would have come back in ’63. Had I made that decision and then gone to MIT I would never would have been selected as an astronaut.
Tim Moore: Isn’t it amazing how the Lord works things out? And then you became a test pilot and you went out of the test pilot school that was at the time commanded by another very famous Air Force pilot.
Charlie Duke: That is correct. The commandant of the school was then Colonel Chuck Yeager, the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound and was a great mentor and a boss. Then I went to work for him after I graduated from test pilot school in July of ’65. But the very next month I saw an ad in the paper that said, NASA is looking for more astronauts, please apply.
Tim Moore: Did you always have that aspiration, or just thought that would be something fun to do? What kind of led you to apply to NASA and become part of the elite group that ended up in the Apollo program itself?
Charlie Duke: I was at MIT and working on the Apollo guidance and navigation system, and I met some active astronauts, several. And I never met anybody who was so enthusiastic and excited about a job as these guys. And I said, “Well, how do I get that job?” He said, “Well, if you finish your degree, go to test pilot school you might have a chance.” So, I followed their advice. Because at first the first group of astronauts were ’59 and then they added a couple more ’61 & ’62 time frame, and I was just too young, too inexperienced to even think about it. But once I got through MIT and I was then getting close to being qualified.
Tim Moore: Wow. Well, obviously you moved forward into the Apollo program and you served as the CapCom communication with the capsule a couple of different times. And as a matter of fact, Neil Armstrong requested you specifically to be on duty when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. And so, everybody that was alive that day and watching, which includes me, my parents kept me up that night to watch the landing live as a very young person, will remember you responding to him announcing that Tranquility Base had been established and you said?
Charlie Duke CapCom 1969: “Roger, Tranquility we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot!” I couldn’t even pronounce tranquility; I was so excited.
Tim Moore: I remember that, with that very distinctive drawl, which I love to hear even to this day. But you hailing from North Carolina that was just a real encouragement to everybody in the south that was cheering on all the things happening in Apollo as well.
Charlie Duke: I had so many people from South and North Carolina call me up and said, “Boy, I’m glad you were on Charlie, it is the first time I ever understood what was going on.”
Tim Moore: What was going through your mind at that moment Charlie as mankind for the first time set foot on a foreign body, albeit it the moon? What were you thinking? How did you feel?
Charlie Duke: I was just not sure we were going to make it. We had a lot of problems on descent, communications, computer problems, trajectory problems, which led to a fuel problem, and we were within seconds of calling an abort because of minimum fuel. And so, the tension you can imagine was just through the roof. And so, I was just focusing on watching that clock countdown to the abort call. But Buzz Aldrin said about 17 seconds before we got to that point, contacting had stopped, and then we knew we were on the ground. It was close.
Tim Moore: It was very, very close. And then several years later you actually got to fly your own mission with Apollo 16. What was that like to actually be the last man to set foot on the moon?
Charlie Duke: Well, I wasn’t the last. We were the fifth landing.
Tim Moore: Oh, I apologize, yes.
Charlie Duke: That was the 17th. There was one more after us Apollo 17.
Tim Moore: That’s right.
Charlie Duke: So, I was number 10 to step out. And it was very exciting. And I was in wonder, awe, this magnificent desolation as Buzz Aldrin described it. And you felt right at home though, there was no sense of eerie feeling. You recognize the major landmarks. There was a perfect clear horizon, the blackness of space, and just the brightness of the moon. And you were so excited! Let’s go explore. That never last us for 72 hours.
Tim Moore: Well, I can imagine. I would be thrilled to even to have that opportunity. I hope we return there someday. But later after your mission to the moon, as I have read about your own personal testimony, you became a Born Again Christian.
Charlie Duke: That’s right.
Tim Moore: And that came after the fact. And so, from your perspective as a follower of Jesus Christ what did you learn about God during your time in space in hindsight?
Charlie Duke: Well, I didn’t know the Scriptures at that time, but there were two verses, that after I gave my life to Jesus I started reading and studying and applying the Bible’s principles to my life. In the book of Isaiah 40 it says, “God sits enthroned above the circle of the earth.” And of course, I didn’t see God, but with these eyes I saw the circle of the earth. And then in the book of Job there is a verse that says, “When God made the earth He suspended it upon nothing.” And when I read that, I said, the Bible is so true. It is true about the physical universe. It is true about our nature. It is true about Jesus. It is true about everything that touches our lives that Scripture touches on is true.
Tim Moore: Yes, Sir.
Charlie Duke: And so, I saw that. I saw the circle of the earth. I saw it suspended upon nothing. And so, I began to trust the Scriptures more and more in my life.
Tim Moore: That is tremendous testimony in of itself. In 1961, Yuri Gagarin a Soviet cosmonaut was the first man in space and upon his return he reflected the Soviet propaganda of the era which was touting Atheism as their worldview. And he said, “I looked and looked and looked and I didn’t see God.” As one of the handful of men who have traveled to the moon and back, a quarter of a million miles away from earth, can you testify as David wrote that God was there?
Charlie Duke: Certainly, God was there. I look back now and I know that. I know that He had guided my steps, the whole of my life putting me in this, and this, and this place to get me to that point where I could look back, sense God’s presence while I was there and His direction and His love for me. And it’s been tremendous–how should I say it? Just a tremendous sense of belonging, and God’s presence is everywhere, the depth, the psalmists talk about that.
Tim Moore: He sure does. And the other thing that is amazing, I think of Jacob as he was wandering away from his family and stayed one point and got up the next morning and he had had a vision of angels descending up and down a ladder from heaven, a stairway, and he said, “God was here and I didn’t realize it at the time,” but upon reflection he said, “I know He is here.” He is everywhere.
Charlie Duke: Certainly. And He is certainly the Creator of all. My training at NASA geologically was evolutionary basis. And when I gave my life to Jesus in ’78 I had sold my business and I was beginning to–I didn’t have a job at that point so I started reading the Bible. And the more I read, the more convinced I became that this is the truth. And God spoke to my heart when I was in Genesis, it said, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It doesn’t say in the beginning there was a big accident. God created the heavens and the earth. And God spoke to my heart and said: What are you going to believe? Are you going to believe what I say? Or are you going to believe what they say? And I said, “Lord, I can’t prove either one, but I am going to believe what You say.” And I stood on that ever since.
Tim Moore: Well, that is a great testimony in of itself. In this particular series we have been stepping through the entire Old Testament and that has been our question, will you believe God’s testimony or will you believe man’s testimony?
Charlie Duke: Exactly.
Tim Moore: And Jesus Christ Himself testified to the validity of Scripture throughout the Old Testament. He testified to the Creation and He indeed was the Creator. You know it was widely reported after your mission to the moon that you left two pieces of memorabilia there on the moon. A coin commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Air Force, at that time, and a signed photo of your family with the words, this is the family of Astronaut Duke from planet earth. And yet, as you just mentioned becoming a believer in 1978, your autobiography said that for a number of years you had lived a different sort of lifestyle then you would reflect now, and you were on the cusp of losing your dear wife Dotty and your children. And yet you said that you lost your fixation on self, ego, and ambition when you prioritized serving the Lord Jesus Christ alongside, again, your beautiful wife Dotty.
Charlie Duke: That’s true. After Apollo 16 in April ’72 I climbed a ladder of success. I was 36-years-old. And then the thought occurred to me: What are you going to do now with the rest of your life? And where do you go after being one of 12 men who have walked on the moon? And so, there was a frustration and no peace in my life. Our marriage was crumbling. And Dotty was going from despair, to depression, to thoughts of suicide. Our boys were small, five and seven when I stepped all over the moon. So, it was a bad situation in my life. But some people came and shared their testimony to our church at St. John’s Episcopal in La Porte, Texas. And they had a glow, and a love, and a joy about them. And Dotty looked at them and realized I’ve tried everything but Jesus. So, she invited Jesus into her heart after that weekend. And I can say, Tim that within two months she had changed from sadness to joy.
Tim Moore: Praise the Lord.
Charlie Duke: And then two-and-a-half-years later I made that decision when we moved to New Braunfels, that you know Jesus is really who He says He is. He is the way, the truth, and the life. That is either the truth or the biggest lie ever perpetrated. And so, I accepted it. I said, “Lord, I believe that You are the truth and I give you my life.” And at that moment I experienced the peace of God for the very first time.
Tim Moore: It is amazing to me just hearing you say that, that you are a man who achieved greater accolades and achievements then most mortal men will ever know. Being one of 12, as we discussed even on our drive down here today, there are fewer astronauts who have been on the moon then there are presidents of the United States in our short history as a nation. And yet, having achieved all that there was still a void and an emptiness, and only when you found Jesus Christ did all of that really come into perspective and you were fulfilled with that relationship with God Almighty. That’s just tremendous.
Charlie Duke: You know in the Psalms, the 19th psalm, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech.” There is not a language or nation that doesn’t understand. And I can look back now and through the verses of that psalm I can see the glory of God in the skies, in the heavens, and on the moon. And it was just magnificent beauty at the time, but now with the knowledge of God and the love of God that I have, and the presence of God I can see all of the Scriptures, and all of the psalms and all of the verses that talk about the creation I see it now.
Tim Moore: Just hearing you testify, I have a holy jealously if you will, or a righteous envy that I would have loved to have seen that, but I just love hearing about it. Our passage that we are focusing on today is Psalm 139 and it is often cited by defenders of unborn life. Where David says, “You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And your life is a testimony of how God can weave all of our experiences together into a tapestry that reflects His glory if we purpose to honor and serve Him.
Charlie Duke: That’s true. And I’ve seen it and I can testify that it certainly has been true in my life. As I read Scripture and I apply it to my life. Someone somewhere has called it the Bible, the manufactures handbook. And as a pilot, Tim you got to read the checklist. You got to read the manual. If you don’t you are going to kill yourself, and you are going to wander off. And maybe not kill yourself but you’ve got big problems. And so, the Bible is my manufactures handbook now and I read it and I try to put my life in line with what Scripture says about being a husband, about being a father, about being a friend, about being a companion. And when I do that, it is just amazing how my life is at peace.
Tim Moore: Yes, Sir. It certainly is. Well, General Duke, Charlie do you have any other words of wisdom for our viewers today?
Charlie Duke: Well, I would just sum it up to say the Bible is the truth about life, and about God. And it explains life and how we can get through life with God’s help and guidance, and support by the Spirit of God. As we learn more, and more, and more, about God and get more and more familiar with Scripture then life is just better. And our family now is the joy of the Lord is in our lives now serving Him.
Tim Moore: Well, I think it is a beautiful picture even to think about the team that was behind your effort at NASA as you went to the moon, as you were part of that team when Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong went the very first time. But we are not alone in this universe, as some like to say, God Himself, Jesus Christ who is our Creator and the Holy Spirit dwelling within is there to give us all the support we need to be what He has in mind for us to be and what He wants us to do on His behalf.
Charlie Duke: Yeah, a lot of wonderful things happen in your life when you follow Him. He’s in charge and He says, “Go over here, go other there.” We could spend hours talking about the mighty acts of God that has happened to us and we’ve seen since 1978.
Tim Moore: Well, Charlie I hope that when we receive our glorified bodies, soon and very soon, that we can travel to all the other worlds that manifest God’s infinite glory, and we won’t even need a rocket to get there.
Charlie Duke: Amen.
Tim Moore: So, Brother thank you very much for your testimony, for your life’s testimony and for hosting us in your home for this episode of Christ in Prophecy.
Part 2- How Then Shall We Live?
Tim Moore: Today we’ve focused our attention on Psalm 139. David contemplated the heavens and realized that there is no place man can go where God is not present. Charlie Duke traveled to the moon and back and testified to the truth David expressed.
In Psalm 19, David wrote: “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”
He goes on to describe the silent witness they bear to the glory of God. The planets in their courses and the stars in their multitude proclaim the creative genius of our great God and Savior, who fashioned the entire universe by the power of His Word.
But the heavens also tell of the hubris of man, and the lurking destructiveness of sin.
In the years since Charlie Duke ventured to the moon in 1972, thousands of satellites have been launched into space. Our modern age is dependent upon space technology. But in a short period of time, space itself has become littered with manmade debris. Unseen by the human eye, millions of pieces of space junk are orbiting above our heads right now.
Almost 30,000 debris objects larger than an orange are tracked by the American Space Force, but it is estimated that there are one million objects larger than a marble and over 330 million larger than a large grain of sand, or a mustard seed. Traveling at 24,000 miles an hour, even the smallest of those pieces of debris could destroy a satellite or kill a crew if they impacted a spaceship
How did the space near to earth become so littered? Well, some objects were intentionally cast off during successful missions. Some were lost by accident. And others were the result of over 630 known catastrophic breakups, explosions, and collisions.
Astronauts could simply launch into space and hope they don’t encounter space debris, but that would be risky and foolish. So, great care is taken to avoid unseen debris fields and steer away from known objects, no matter how small.
In a spiritual sense, many people have a cavalier attitude toward sin. Sin orbits around them out of sight and out of mind, and they presume the odds of sin catastrophically impacting their lives is quite low. But sin has a way of hitting us with devastating consequences. In the fullness of time, every person who has not been covered by the blood of Christ will answer for every single sin.
Mankind’s collective sinfulness has increased so dramatically that it’s hard to imagine how much longer our holy God can tolerate the wickedness on the earth. He has already demonstrated His willingness to deal with sin, and His intention to do so again at the end of the age, and with finality.
Gazing into the heavens inspires us to stand in awe of God’s glory. It motivates our heart to overflow with praise. But for those with discernment, even the space junk floating above our heads offers a warning that destruction will come suddenly and unexpectedly on all who reject God’s love and forgiveness.
Heed the counsel of Isaiah: “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens,” then turn to the One who made the heavens and the earth and has the authority to forgive your sins.
Nathan Jones: Well, It’s hard to imagine blasting into space and viewing the earth as a blue marble rotating a quarter-million miles away. And, until the past century humans could only dream of ascending to the heavens.
Tim Moore: Inspired by the Holy Spirit, David understood that even if he did travel to impossible depths or heights, God would be there. His psalm offers us the comfort of knowing that no matter where we go, we cannot be separated from God.
Nathan Jones: But as you described, our sin does separate us from God. And in His holiness and righteousness, He cannot countenance sin, meaning that He will not tolerate it. Our sins swirl around us as an offensive debris field, casting us away from His holy presence. And only by putting on Jesus Christ, covering our sins with His shed blood, can we enter into a relationship with Him. And, once we are sealed in that relationship, there is no power on earth, or under the earth, or in the heavens, that can pull us away from God.
Tim Moore: David lived just over 3,000 years ago, and yet he had insights that still reveal truths about God to us today. As a “man after God’s own heart,” he also captured in song a spirit of reverence and worship.
We may not know what tunes originally accompanied the Psalms, but gifted musicians have set many of them to music and used others to inspire countless hymns of praise down through the ages.
Nathan Jones: Well, next week Tim will interview a man who is a gifted worship leader in his own right and teaches others to lead the people of God into worship. Well, just as the psalmists were gifted by the Holy Spirit to write songs of praise to the Lord, and people were set apart to lead the children of Israel in worship, God is still raising up gifted individuals to lead congregations to Him.
Well, our offer for this week is a DVD and special Insights publication that focuses on Psalm 2, one of the most exciting Messianic Psalms because it points to the reign of the Lord’s Anointed. In other words, it describes the rebellion of man, the response of God, the promise of salvation, and the imminent return of the Son, Jesus Christ. And for a gift of $15 or more we’ll be glad to ship it to you.
Tim Moore: When Jesus ascended to the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, His disciples began to praise God joyfully, citing Psalm 118:26: “Blessed is the King Who comes in the Name of the LORD, peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” The Pharisees wanted Jesus to rebuke them, but He responded, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
We invite you to reflect on your favorite psalms over the next week. Pick out verses that cause praise to well up in your heart. Choose passages that point to the condition of man, the goodness of God, the promise of the Messiah, and the blessing of salvation.
Taking a note from Jesus, our single key verse for this week will be the last verse in the book, Psalm 150:6: “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!” Until next week I’m Tim Moore.
Nathan Jones: And I’m Nathan Jones, saying, “Look up, be watchful, for the LORD, whose presence is always with us and Who is worthy of eternal praise, is drawing near!”
End of Program