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And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them before lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: He made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth. And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.” Genesis 1:14-19

First, we again notice the divine act of creation an such 

What a tremendous difference between the Scriptural account of creation, also of the creation of the sun, moon, and stars, and the philosophy of a godless, modern world! On the one hand, we would surely never describe the origin and beginning of things in this manner. Who among men would think of first describing the creation of light and then proceed to tell of the origin of the sun, moon, and stars? Must we not have the sun, moon, and stars first before we can have light? Is this, therefore, not simply another incontrovertible fact which attests to the truthfulness and veracity of the divine origin of Holy Writ? Surely, the Holy Scriptures are not of human origin, but they are the infallible revelation and testimony of the alone living God. Besides, how different is the presentation of the origin of the world by modern wicked philosophy! This philosophy of the world seeks the origin of all things in a huge ball of fire. As this huge ball of fire proceeded on its way it began to cool in some mysterious way. Also strangely mysteriously it cooled faster in one place than another, thereby lost its balance, began to turn and twist with the result that huge pieces began to fall off, which pieces continued to revolve about the original ball of fire, becoming our planets and stars. This is the “explanation” which the natural man prefers to the majestic account of Holy Writ, and which, presented to us, we understand, without any basis of fact, is conclusive evidence that the natural man has invented unspeakably foolish things because of the hardness of his heart.

How different is the presentation in the Holy Scriptures. The divine record informs us that the Lord, upon the fourth day, created the sun, moon, and stars.

Some, as Professor Aalders of the Netherlands, hold to the idea that these heavenly bodies were not really created upon the fourth day but upon the first day, and that upon the fourth day the light was concentrated in them. He declares that they are heavenly bodies, that the heavens were created upon the first day, and that therefore also the sun, moon, and stars were called into existence upon the first day of creation week. The expression in Genesis 1:14: “Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven,” must be understood as meaning that the light then was concentrated in them. First, we would remark that there is principally no objection to this interpretation. Presuppose that these heavenly bodies did exist and that God, upon the fourth day, filled them with this light; this would not detract from the work of creation upon the fourth day as a wonderful work of the Lord. Secondly, however  this does not agree with the account of Genesis 1. De we not read in verse 16 that “He made the stars also.” Hence, upon this day He made not only the stars but also the sun and moon. As already stated in a previous article God did not create the light upon the fourth day, but lights. He had created the light upon the first day. Now, upon the fourth day, the Lord created the sun, moon, and stars, and concentrated in them the light which He had formed upon the first day.

This Scriptural account of the divine creation of the sun, moon, and stars has surely something to tell us. We have already remarked that we would never have written history in this fashion. We certainly would have mentioned first the sun, moon, and stars. Surely, they must exist first before the light, which emanates from them, could exist. The fact that the light is mentioned first, and then the sun, moon, and stars, is to emphasize, not that the sun, moon, and stars are the origin of light, but the living God is its origin. There was light before they existed. They simply are the heavenly bodies from which the light, once created by the Lord, emanates. Upon the first day the Lord formed light and upon the fourth day He made the bearers and distributors of that light which already existed.

The viewpoint from which these heavenly luminaries are described

Modern Science would also criticize the divine Scriptures when they speak of the sun and moon as the two great lights. The sun, to be sure, is a tremendous heavenly body. We are told that it is an incandescent (brilliant) mass having a diameter more than one hundred times and a volume more than 1,300,000 times of the earth, and that it is situated at a tremendous distance from the earth. However, we are also told that there are far greater luminaries in the universe than the sun at such tremendous distances from the earth that it would require their light rays (and light travels at the rate of 186,000 miles per second) hundreds of years to reach our earth. Hence, they conclude the Scripture is in error when it speaks of the sun and moon as the two great lights. Regarding this allegation of the men of worldly wisdom we would say the following. First, we do not purpose to deny their claim that there are luminaries in the universe which are much greater than the sun or moon. This is very well possible. For, secondly, what they assert to be true merely confirms God’s people in the knowledge of the greatness of their God. The universe is surely amazing. The earth is but one among several planets. And it is the smallest of all the planets, only some eight thousand miles in diameter and twenty five thousand miles in circumference. Only! How vast is then the universe! Its distances defy all human understanding. Even the creature defies all human understanding. What foolishness, what inconceivable folly, what desperate wickedness and ungodliness of the natural man that he, although not even understanding the universe, the finite creature, would understand Him who is the maker and sustainer of that mighty universe! The creature man cannot understand. The creator he would understand. What wicked folly!

And, yet, that the Scriptures speak of the sun and moon as the Two great lights,” is so simply and majestically true. The viewpoint of Genesis 1 is not the universe but, as we have already stated previously the earth. These luminaries are described here from the viewpoint of their relation to the earth. Hence, from the viewpoint of the earth and in their relation to the earth, they are the great luminaries. Does not Gen. 1:14-19 inform us that these great lights, divide the day from the night, that they rule the day and the night, and also that they are for signs and for seasons and for days and for years? However, conceited man simply ignores the Word of the living God. The maker of heaven and earth, who created the world and all that is therein, who alone can acquaint us with the work of His hands, who has informed us with respect to His mighty work of creation, speaks to us in His infallible Word and testimony, and the natural man of wicked folly simply ignores this revelation and acts and speaks as if it does not even exist.

Their significance

First, the sun and moon divide the day from the night, and through them the antithesis of day and night, of light and darkness is called into existence. If the light were not concentrated in a body as the sun but spread through the entire heavens, there would be no day and night, no light and darkness. In that case it would always be light. This lies in the nature of the case. But now the Lord concentrated the light of the day in the heavenly luminaries, and the result is the repeated exchange of day and night, of light and darkness. This is caused we understand, by the turning of the earth upon its axis and its yearly circuit around the sun. Hence, the creation of the sun and moon is the cause of the day and the night, of our light and darkness. And this is, of course, also what the Scriptures mean when we are told that the greater light rules the day and the lesser light rules the night. The implication of these words is not that the sun and moon exercise dominion and as such must be worshipped (even as the heathens worship the sun and the moon), but simply that they control the day and the night, the exchange of light and darkness.

Secondly, the sun and moon are set for signs, for seasons, for days, and for years. We expect to call attention to the symbolical significance of the sun, moon, and stars (Gen. 1 informs us that they have also been set for signs) in a special paragraph. We must not confuse the “seasons” with “days and years.” We understand, of course, that these heavenly luminaries govern our days and years. They govern our days inasmuch as it requires the earth a day to turn upon its axis. And they govern the year inasmuch as it requires the earth a year to complete a circuit about the sun. And they have also been set for seasons. This refers to the various seasons such as full moon, quarter moon, seed time and harvest time, spring and summer and autumn and winter. The sun which is directly above us in the middle of the summer and makes its daily circuit through the heavens nearer the horizon during the winter months thereby controls summer and the short days and long nights of winter. Besides, we must also bear in mind that the sun rules during the day and the moon during the night. The life of man and beast and plant is indeed governed and controlled by the sun and the moon. Man and beast and plant ever turn unto the light, and everything has in the light of the sun its life and glory and happiness. How differently we feel when the sun is out in all its glory than upon a dark and dreary day when the sun hides its face. When the evening shadows descend upon the face of the earth the beast retreats into its den, the flower of the field “closes up” for the night, and man seeks rest from his labors during the day. Then the glory of God’s creation fades away, as it were, and all creation wraps itself in slumber awaiting the glory of another day. All things seek the light. Even the bosom of the ocean struggles for and unto the light in its amazing ebb and tide. The heavenly luminaries rule and govern in various ways the life of man and beast and plant. How depressed and downhearted and gloomy a person can become when for several days the sun hides its face, and we experience the gloomy rainy season, day in and day out. How wonderful is the springtime when the dreariness of the winter is past, when the days become longer and warmer, when once more glory and beauty are spread over and upon the face of the earth. Then the birds begin to sing, and all the living creatures experience the exhilarating effect of another season. But even this is not all. In a very direct sense the sun and moon control and govern the life of every living creature. Nothing could possibly live without the sun. But we know that the life of the plant is directly governed by the sun and, with the plant, the life of man and beast. We are all dependent upon the earth for our very existence. The earth supplies us and all animals with food. Indeed, the sun is the source of all life and strength. It governs the life of every living creature. Truly the Lord has set the sun and moon for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years, to rule the day and the night, the light and the darkness, the life of every living creature.

Their rich symbolism

How unspeakably rich is the symbolic speech which comes to us from these heavenly luminaries, the sun, moon, and stars!

First, the very fact that the sun rules the day and that the moon rules the night, that they divide the day from the night, the light from the darkness, is richly symbolical. The earthly, the natural phenomenon of this light and darkness we understand. Our darkness of the night is not to be confused with the original darkness of Genesis 1:2. Our darkness is a created darkness, is actually a turning, a shadow of turning, a shadow caused by turning. The earth turns on its axis, thereby turns, as it were, its back upon the sun, and as a result thereof is clothed in the darkness of the night. This is the natural phenomenon of our day and night. What a wonderful symbolical language it speaks! This exchange of light and darkness, caused by the sun, speaks of that spiritual antithesis of the day and night, the night of sin and the darkness of the indignation of the Lord. For, even as that part of the earth is clothed in darkness which has “turned its back” upon the sun, so also man is wrapped in darkness when he turns his back upon the living God and His Son of Righteousness. This, we know, occurred in paradise when we all sinned in Adam, turned our back upon the living God, became covenant breakers, trampling His covenant under foot, refusing to be servants of the Most High and preferring to be lords instead, and thereby entailed upon ourselves the horrible darkness of sin and of the wrath of the living God. Every setting of the sun and its resultant darkness of the night should speak to us of this fact of sin and darkness.

Secondly, how wonderfully rich is the symbolism of the night; Of course, we refer to the beautiful night. We do not refer to the wild stormy and tempestuous night, the night when a furious tempest rages, or when the wind howls and shrieks. Then, in such a night, we become afraid. The dark and tempestuous night fills one with horror and terror, causes one to long for its passing. Beautiful, however, is the quiet night, the night when we can see the moon, even as that queen of the night rides through the sky overhead. The moon, we understand, has no light in itself, is the lesser of the great lights, receives its light from the sun, and is therefore a reflection of that greater luminary, the sun. The moon, therefore, tells us that the sun, although we see it not, is still present and that it will, therefore, reappear. The moon informs us, therefore, that the night is nothing but a passing shadow and that the day will presently dawn. This moonlit night speaks to us of the night of sin and death and darkness in which we find ourselves, but also the reflection of the Sun of Righteousness in His Word, the unspeakably glorious promise of the eternally faithful God, the glorious promise because of its sovereign and unconditional character, is in no sense of the word ever dependent upon the work of man. Of this blessed promise of the Lord the moon, in the moonlit night, is indeed a marvelous symbol, set by God in the heavens for that very purpose. Hence, the moon speaks to us of the divine promise that the night of sin and darkness and death will presently be past, and that the day of eternal and heavenly glory and perfection will presently dawn in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thirdly, the sun, moon and stars are themselves rich in symbolical significance. This is true, first of all, of the sun. We have already referred to the sun in a previous article when we called attention to the symbolism of the earthly creation. The sun, we all know, is a symbol of Christ, who is called in Scripture the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings. Even as the natural sun pours out light and glory and life upon man and beast and plant, so Christ is the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings, because of His death and resurrection and sitting at the right hand of the power of God, to pour out upon His own the life which he merited for them. Also the moon is rich in symbolical significance. As we have already mentioned, the moon has no light in itself. It is a reflection of the sun. Hence, the moon is a beautiful and striking symbol of the Church of the living God which also has no life in herself, but possesses all her life in and out of Christ and is therefore a reflection of the Sun of Righteousness. All that the Church of the living God does is to receive life from Christ Jesus, and her only calling, now and forever, is to reflect that life of Christ and speak unto and reveal the glory of Him who died that we might live. And, finally, we must call attention to the stars. They too, are rich in symbolical significance. There is, first of all, their number. The Scriptures call attention to the stars of the heavens, the sand along the seashore, and the dust of the earth; the emphasis, we understand, falls upon their countless number. As such the stars symbolize the countless, innumerable number of the elect of the living God. Or, the Scriptures call attention to the stars from the aspect of their glory. They are as so many lights, shining in the blackness of the night. And the darker the night the greater is the glory of these heavenly luminaries. So also the glory of God’s grace shines most brightly upon the background of the darkness and blackness of sin and death. In the third place, in connection with the stars, we can call attention to their occupying the same place every night and also to their rich diversity. Also in this respect they are a true picture of the Church of the living God. That Church is constituted of exactly so many members; and in that Church or body of Christ each individual member occupies its own particular place, has its own particular calling, reveals the glory of the Christ in its own particular and peculiar way. There are no “twins” in the Church of God, each child of the Lord differs from the other in gifts and talents and glory. Beautiful this truth is revealed unto us by the apostle, Paul, in I Cor. 12. Again, we can call attention to the stars from the viewpoint of their various constellations—they are grouped in various ways. The numbers: 1, 3, 4, and 7 are very prominent among these lights in the heavens. These numbers are significant, speak to us of the living God and of man, of the Church and God’s eternal covenant. Indeed, how true is the word of the psalmist in Ps. 19:1-2: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.”

Herewith the fourth day of the week of creation has been concluded. God has created the light, the firmament, the dry land, the world of grass and herbs and plants and trees, the sun, moon, and stars. The house has been made ready. All that remains is the creation of the living creatures who are destined to live in this house, the world of God’s almighty power. This occurs upon the fifth and sixth days of the week of creation, to which we hope to call attention in subsequent articles.