Signs in the Sky
“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so.”
- Genesis 1:14-15 NRSV
One of the main evidences that the account in Genesis 1 is not meant necessarily to be scientific or sequential is the appearance of the Sun, Moon, and Stars on day four; long after life (at least plant life) had already begun on the Earth. There are solutions to this conundrum including the idea that enough sunlight was getting through to nurture the plants, but yet the sky was overcast and not completely visible. At some point, the clouds thin out enough to display the Sun, Moon, and Stars. Just as likely is that the light of God could have sustained the plant life before the Sun was visible (in Revelation 22, the New Jerusalem is said to have no need for the Sun because of the glory of the Son). Equally interesting are the possibilities that this is a couplet of day one, elaborating on a phenomenon that has already occurred. What happened however, is not near as important as why it happened.
According to the passage the point of the Sun, Moon, and stars (or at least our ability to see them) is mainly utilitarian. The purposes are revealed in this order: 1) they would be the metric by which time would be determined, 2) they would both give light to the Earth, and 3) they would separate light and darkness (or rather day from night). Most civilizations have told time either by the Sun or the Moon; the Romans used a solar calendar (as does must of the West) while the Jews used a Lunar calendar. Either way, these two were to be our points of references to mark days and years. Both the Sun and the Moon give light to the Earth; though it is true that the Moon derives its light as reflector of the Sun at night; it is comforting that even in the darkest night (even in the time of New Moon, there are still stars), there is some sort of light. And why is it important to separate the light from the darkness? It is because night symbolizes evil; we go inside and gather around warmth and light while the night wears on. Day however, is full of light and we can clearly see things as they are; the truth of reality is more clearly seen in the light of day than the shadows of night.
Remember when God allowed light to burst upon the scene on day one? Light is a symbol of the presence of God’s holy-love; where there is no light there is only darkness. God in his great mercy has given us all a clear sense of what is right and wrong, good and evil. When we are living in darkness, there is always a light to guide us home; when we are living in the light, there is the warmth and clarity that comes with trusting and depending upon God. In many places the Sun and the Moon have been objects of worship, but Scripture shows us that even the Sun and Moon have defined purposes set out by our Creator. Praise God for giving us Scripture, his Spirit, and each other to be spiritual signs and guides that shows us when we are walking in the light of love, and when we are straying into the darkness of sin!
God is Good
God has given us signs in which we can determine where we are walking so that we will not stumble on this long journey of life.
God is Great
The signs God gives us always point to him; his greatness and his right to determine the purpose and meaning of those signs.
Oh Lord our God, you are so merciful for giving us signs in which we are able to know you and walk with you; without you we would be lost in darkness without hope. We praise you for your great kindness to us in sending us your ultimate sign: Your Son Jesus Christ; to show us the way back to you. It is in his name we pray, amen.