Rev. Justin Smidstra, pastor of First Protestant Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan

Few things cheer us like the sunrise stretching its  colorful wings across the morning sky, or the warmth  of the sun at its midday zenith. In the colder months the  sun rises late and sets early. Gray clouds cover its face.  We miss it! The sun is a creature of peculiar glory and  importance (I Cor. 15:41). God made it so.

God created light on the first day. On the fourth day  God made the sun to be “the greater light to rule the day”  (Gen. 1:14). God issued the sun its abiding command to  shine upon the earth and divide day from night. With  the sun, God governs the rhythms of life. Each day God  brings out the sun “as a bridegroom coming out of his  chamber” and a “strong man to run a race” (Ps. 19:5-  6). At sunrise man goes forth “unto his work and to his  labour until the evening” (Ps. 104:23). At sunset man  retires to rest. God commands the sun to give light and  warmth to the earth. There is “nothing hid from the  heat thereof” (Ps. 19:6). God uses sunlight to cause the  plants to grow and His creatures to flourish. Human life  “under the sun” is full of toil and vanity (Eccl. 2:11).  Nevertheless, “truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant  thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun” (Eccl. 11:7).  No other light can compare with the glory of the sun in  its strength. A little time under its gaze tans the skin  (Song of Solomon 1:6), but its sustained gaze scorches  with burning heat (Jonah 4:8). The believer knows the  Lord of the sun. He rests assured: “The Lord is thy  shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee  by day” (Ps. 121:5-6).

God created the sun to signify spiritual things too.  In the sun, the eyes of faith see a dim reflection of God  Himself, who is light (I John 1:5). The radiant sun reveals  God’s glory, the shining forth of His infinite perfections.  The psalmist says: “The Lord God is a sun  and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory” (Ps.  84:11). God’s favor is likened to the shining countenance  of the sun; His judgment to the darkening of the  sun (Joel 2:10). As the sun endures through the ages,  we catch a glimpse of the eternal changelessness of God  (Ps. 72:5). Fallen man, by nature lost in spiritual darkness,  makes the sun an idol to worship (Deut. 4:19). He  stretches out his hands to the light-bearing creature instead  of the God who “prepared the light and the sun”  (Ps. 74:16). Though he lives under the sun’s light, man  sits in spiritual darkness under the shadow of death (Is.  9:2). This darkness the light of the sun cannot dispel.  Only the light of divine grace can.

The gospel’s good news is that God made the light to  shine in the darkness! God sent the Light of the world,  Jesus Christ, to save His people from their sins. “The  people which sat in darkness saw great light” (Matt.  4:16). Jesus Christ “the dayspring from on high hath  visited us” (Luke 1:78-79). Christ is the Sun of righteousness  arisen with healing in His wings (Mal. 4:2).  Christ entered our darkness to be our Sun and Shield.  He veiled His divine glory behind His assumed humanity,  though a glimpse of it broke through on the Mount,  where “his face did shine as the sun” (Matt. 17:2). Jesus  came in the likeness of sinful flesh, yet His whole  life glowed with holiness pure as sunlight. Christ humbled  Himself to the death of the cross. On Calvary,  the Sun of righteousness was lifted up for the salvation  of sinners. As Christ outstretched His arms upon the  crossbeam, He outspread His healing wings over His  people. Then, for three hours the sun was darkened.  God poured out His wrath against our sins upon the  crucified Christ (Luke 23:45). God turned the light of  His countenance away. God withdrew the warmth of  presence. In the cold, lonely dark the Christ suffered the  fullness of hell and merited eternal life for us. To human  eyes it appeared the Sun of righteousness had set.  But then came the dawn of resurrection Sunday! The  Sun of righteousness arose, the Victor over death’s dark  domain! The Bridegroom came forth from the grave’s  chamber, as the strong man, who finished the race! Up  from the grave, the Sun of righteousness ascended into  heaven. He poured out His Spirit through whom He  shines His healing rays upon His church. Christ our  righteousness! Brilliant as the sun! He has redeemed  His bride and clothed her with the sunlight of His own  righteousness (Rev. 12:1).

We live in dark days. But the Sun of righteousness is  rising again. This last sunrise of the Sun of righteousness  shall usher in the dawn of eternal day. The Second  Coming of Jesus Christ! Every eye shall see Him on  the clouds of glory. His countenance shall be as “the sun shineth in his strength” (Rev. 1:16). The wicked  shall not stand before His heat but be destroyed by the  brightness of His coming (II Thess. 2:8). “Then shall  the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of  their Father” (Matt. 13:43). Then shall the church be  gathered into the city that has “no need of the sun” because  “the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is  the light thereof” (Rev. 21:23). This is our sure hope,  people of God! Let us watch and wait for our Sun of  righteousness. “From the rising of the sun unto the going  down of the same the Lord’s name is to be praised”  (Ps. 113:3).