Rev. Joseph Holstege, pastor of Zion Protestant Reformed Church in Jenison, Michigan

There is a euphoric comfort that comes from staring at the pale face of the “lesser light” that was set “to rule the night” (Gen. 1:16). Among the diamonds set by the Creator in the dark expanse, none is so “fair as the moon” (Song 6:10). As anyone knows who has ever laid back in a soft patch of green on a summer night, though there is one glory of the sun and another of the stars, there is still “another glory of the moon” (I Cor. 15:41).

Like a flickering flame or a forest of fireflies, the moon is one of those sights to capture the imagination of a child. The mouths of babes declare what child-eyes first saw when looking up, “the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars” (Ps. 8:3). To glance at the great white globe as little more than a backdrop is a sign that something is not quite right with your soul. Thus the warning to remember your Creator in the days of your youth, “while…the light, or the moon…be not darkened” (Eccl. 12:2).

The first appearance of the moon with the stars “to rule by night” (Ps. 136:9) was on the fourth day. When Adam and Eve therefore looked up among the trees of Eden after the sun set on the sixth day, they saw it. Its glow was cast on the face of the waters when the clouds cleared and Noah peered out of his little window in the ark. It hovered over the heads of Job and his friends as they sat in silence and ashes. Its light fell over Jesus as the bloody sweat dripped from His face in the garden where the disciples slept. The moon is such a constant that sometimes we forget it is even there. Yet it is always there. And if the moon is always there, so much more the love of God for His people in His covenant. “It shall be established forever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven” (Ps. 89:37).

Yet even as a sign of constancy and faithfulness, the moon is only a sign. To give it ultimate significance is to run into either of two traps. The one is to see in the moon an object that exists of itself. The moon was then not set in the heavens by the Creator so much as it happened to appear in the heavens at the right place and at the right time. As absurd as it would be for the sun to stand “still upon Gibeon,” so impossible for the moon to remain “in the valley of Ajalon” (Josh. 10:12). This is the error of materialism we are so painfully familiar with today.

The other is so to elevate the moon that it is given the status of the divine. Among the many high places and priests King Josiah had to drive out of Jerusalem were those that “burned incense…to the moon” (II Kings 23:5). The Lord warned about this as a possible temptation for His people (Deut. 4:19) and attached to it the strongest penalty (Deut. 17:3). Yet even the godly can fall prey to the fear that the sun may smite them by day, or the moon by night, as if these heavenly bodies were possessed with some supernatural menace (Ps. 121:6). Thus the psalmist calms us with the gentle reminder, “Neither sun nor moon shall smite, God shall guard by day and night” (Psalter #345, stanza 2).

The idolatrous impulse to find ultimate significance in the wonders of the night sky no doubt explains why the Lord will end the world with signs in the moon (Luke 21:25). At first only the third part of the moon shall be darkened along with the stars (Rev. 8:12). Yet, in the end, the moon will no longer give any light (Matt. 24:29). It will, in fact, be turned to blood as the stars fall and the heavens dissolve (Joel 2:31; Acts 2:20; Rev. 6:12).

What is passing will then be eclipsed by what is eternal. The glory of the moon will no longer be necessary in the city where “the Lamb is the light thereof” (Rev. 21:23). “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory” (Is. 60:19). Yet the legacy of the moon shall continue in the glory that is given to the church which is clothed not only with the sun, but has also “the moon under her feet” (Rev. 12:1). A fitting radiance that, like the moon itself, is reflective of the still brighter light of the Son.

I imagine one of the more exciting times in the Old Testament city of God was the anticipation of the new moon. As God “appointed the moon for seasons” (Ps. 104:19), it is not hard to imagine boys and girls in Jerusalem watching the waxing white face every night with enthusiasm. The clear note ringing from the temple mount was the signal for the beginning of the feast. “Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in a time appointed, on our solemn feast day” (Ps. 81:3). And that is the enduring testimony of the moon to the Christian today as well, who waits for the sound of the trump and the eternal new moon when the glory of Christ will wax to its fullness and never wane again. Think of Him next time the soft nighttime glow washes over your childlike face of wonder. “In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth” (Ps. 72:7).