Rulers of the Day and Night
When my son, Joel, turned forty, we celebrated by hiking up Haystack in the Adirondacks.With his brothers, we hiked several hours back into the woods. At the first light of dawn we were out of our sleeping bags. It was time for breakfast, then the trail. And then early in the evening, when the sun’s light turned off, it didn’t take long to climb into our sleeping bags.
In our world electricity causes us to forget how the light of the sun and the moon controls our days and nights but check out the calendar. Days, months, years, special holidays—they’re all controlled by the rhythm of the sun and the moon.
In the Creation account of Genesis 1, God presents himself as standing on the dry ground he gave us, and then tells us, as the readers, to look up at the sky. It looks like a great bowl stretched out above. He then tells us about his gift of light on the earth and how to tell time.
“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to divide between the day and the night. Let them be for signs, for determining appointed times on earth for gathering, for days, and for years. Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light upon the land,’ and it was so. God made two lights, a greater one to rule the day and a lesser one to rule the night, and the stars. God gave the two lights as gifts in the sky to give light on the land and to rule over the day and the night. He divided between the light and the darkness, and God saw that it was good. There was evening and morning—the fourth day.” Genesis 1:14-19
When we get to the Book of Exodus, the Israelites will be slaves in Egypt, a mighty nation that worships the sun god, Ra. As their supreme deity he will be pictured with the head of a falcon with a cobra resting on his head. Pharaoh was his supreme representative. The Egyptians also worshiped the moon god, Khonsu, and believed he was the great snake who fertilized the Cosmic Egg in the creation of the world.
In the Israelite account of creation, Israel’s God doesn’t even name the sun and the moon. They are simply described as the greater and lesser light made by God, and the stars that ancients believed controlled destinies on earth are given only two words in the Hebrew text (v. 16).
Later in Israel’s history, God commanded his people not to worship the sun, moon, and stars (Deuteronomy 4:19, 17:2-5), like the nations around them, but they disobeyed. This is the reason the prophet Jeremiah will give for why the LORD sent his people into captivity (Jeremiah 8:1-2).
Today I need to bow before Creator of the sun, moon, and stars, and thank him for his faithfulness to the covenant he made with Noah where he promised that “as long as the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 8:21). The sun will rise in the morning and set in the evening.
LORD, the sun is definitely shining bright here, deep in the heart of Texas. Thanks! And thanks that my kids are taking me hiking in the Adirondacks again because on October 15, you will have graciously allowed me to see the light 25,550 times.
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