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).