50 years ago this week, Neil Armstrong uttered what remains one of the most iconic statements relevant to all of humanity except for the Bible: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Who knew that decades later, Armstrong would do something even more significant than being the first man on the moon, and that it would be biblically rooted?
Armstrong’s first moon walk and inspirational statement acknowledged the incredible individual achievement of being the first person to step on the surface of the moon, but was also the product of a great team effort.
Armstrong embodied a particularly American value of going beyond what’s seems to be physically possible. As one of the early astronauts, he also overcame unique personal physical endurance challenges. History has recorded the achievements leading up to and including his first step on the moon as the sum of many individuals’ dedication, including in recent acclaimed films such as Apollo 11, First Man, and Hidden Figures.
The emphasis on his own single step focuses the imagination on an individual’s ability, and is a metaphor about achieving many things one step at a time. It still provides a vision for anyone setting out to achieve an extraordinary goal. This can be the case with human achievement, as well as overcoming personal challenges.
Armstrong was a model for both, something underscored and facilitated by his faith.
At the most basic level, Armstrong put his faith, and fate, in God’s hands. Space travel was not unique when he took off in July 1969, but at that point, nobody had landed or walked on the moon. Any number of things could have gone wrong, and Armstrong would have been remembered differently. But he had faith in God and in the God-given abilities of the vast team that made his personal achievement possible.
Armstrong also overcame personal challenges, including the death of his young daughter. But his faith remained strong.
More than two decades after his first moon walk, Armstrong visited Israel, where he didn’t chart a new path, but followed an old one. Because of his faith, this was something he acknowledged as being even more significant than his 1969 moon walk.
When Armstrong visited Israel in 1994, he was brought to a place in the Old City of Jerusalem and asked Meir Ben-Dov, his host and noted archaeologist, if Jesus himself actually would have walked there.
“I told him, ‘Look, Jesus was a Jew,'” recalled Ben-Dov. “These are the steps that lead to the temple, so he must have walked here many times.”
Armstrong asked if these were the original steps, and Ben-Dov said that they were.
“So Jesus stepped right here?” asked Armstrong. “That’s right,” answered Ben-Dov.
“I have to tell you,” Armstrong said to the Israeli archaeologist, “I am more excited stepping on these stones than I was stepping on the moon.”
Indeed, we know that for a Christian, visiting Israel is a life-changing and faith building experience. This is played out in numerous ways including visits to the Old City and specifically the Temple Mount where Jesus preached and worshipped, along where he was crucified, to the Jordan River where he was baptized, and of course the Galilee, and Nazareth, his hometown.
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SOURCE: Charisma News, Jonathan Feldstein