Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Genesis 1:14-19 The Fourth Day: God creates the sun, moon and stars

"And God said,
'Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky
to separate the day from the night,
and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years,
and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.'
And it was so.

God made two great lights --
the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night.
He also made the stars.
God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth,
to govern the day and the night,
and to separate light from darkness.
And God saw that it was good.

And there was evening and there was morning -- the fourth day.

The two great lights which God made were obviously the sun and the moon.  Although God had named the land and seas when He created them, the sun and moon are merely called 'greater light' and 'lesser light' in this passage.  According to the NIV Study Bible notes on this passage, this is because  the terms 'sun' and 'moon'

"... were used as proper names for the pagan deities associated with these heavenly bodies.
They are light-givers to be appreciated, not powers to be feared,
because the one true God made them."

Although these lights were called 'sun' and 'moon' in other passages of Scripture, I think that it was important to distinguish in this passage that these greater and lesser lights were just that -- lights -- and not deities.  Once that is established, there is no problem with calling them sun and moon in other passages.  

God assigned purposes for the sun and moon.  They were to:
  • separate the day from the night.  [Their orderly appearance day after day and night after night gave a sense of continuity and structure.]
  • serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years. [not in the sense of astrology, but indicating upcoming changes of seasons, or other matters such as planting times, etc.  I imagine that the appearance of certain astronomical events (constellations, etc.) would also indicate the passage of years, etc., to help people recall when significant events in history had taken place.]
  • govern the day and the night
  • give light to the earth

 God also made the stars.  At first this passage may seem to be saying -- "oh, yeah, God also made the stars." -- as though this was not really an important matter.  However, Psalm 136:9 says that the stars help the moon to govern the night.  Some stars are well-known indicators of direction, like the North Star.  The appearance of certain constellations could indicate seasons.

Did you know that God even named each individual star?  Isaiah 40:25-26 (NIV) says so:

" 'To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?' says the Holy One.

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?

He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing."

Psalm 147:4-6 (NIV) concurs:

"He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
The LORD sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground."

[I included verse 6 in the above passage because of a great note from the NIV Study Bible's thoughts on this subject:

"He whose power and understanding are such that he fixes
the number of (or counts) the stars and names them
is able to sustain his humble ones and bring the wicked down."

In other words,  the God who is able to create and name the countless number of stars which are present in the universe is Someone who the wicked are unable to withstand.  Someone who can remember the names of countless stars will not forget their evil deeds.  This is obviously of great comfort to those who are aligned with Him, for He will be able to meet all their needs and protect them from any enemies.  It is also a warning for the wicked to repent of their deeds and turn to God.]

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