Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.
The first chapter of Genesis gives a day-by-day account of God creating the Earth. Day one saw the creation of light. Day two saw the creation of a sky. Day three saw dry ground emerge from the waters of Earth and vegetation crop up (pun intended). Day four (this morning’s verse) sees the creation of the sun and moon and stars.
I could probably get caught up in a long diatribe about the literal six days of creation versus a more symbolic six day account and which one is more likely. Neither one troubles me much, as God could take six literal twenty-four hour periods to create everything as He could take millions of years. I favor the literal six days, as the text supports it and God is easily powerful enough to handle creating a universe in six days. Authors have “created” worlds in weeks or months, why should I think God is less powerful than the beings He created?
What is fascinating about this verse is what God says about the lights in the heavens and in what order it is said. No history has yet been written. No human yet exists. But God says explicitly that the lights are to be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years. He states that purpose before He says that they are intended to give light on the earth. This order seems significant to me, as God never does anything accidentally.
So, why the communicative purpose — for signs — first? Well, back on day one, God created light and separated it from darkness and the day-night cycle began. So the light-giving purpose was already accomplished by other means, if God had chosen to leave it that way. These stars, the ones that are for signs, will later give scope to God’s promise to Abraham — as the stars of the heavens in number, so shall his descendants be. It will be one of these stars that leads the magi to Jesus — we saw His star. The stars come back, over and over, to help God communicate to humankind. This does not mean that I believe in astrology. Far from it. But it does mean that God has used the stars as signs to speak with people. Come the time of Revelation, the sun and moon and stars will be signs of God’s judgment being poured out on an unrepentant world. They tell us a lot, if we have ears to hear.
The remainder of what the stars and moon and sun are for are pretty straightforward. Certain stars and constellations are visible during certain seasons of the year and not during others. The sun rising and setting marks off our days and nights, while the moon and its phases help set the date on calendars — especially lunar calendars. The constellations even go as far as marking off years, as certain constellations can be seen one year and not others. The whole zodiac has to do with constellations that become visible in a certain order. Add in comets that only show up every so many years and meteor showers — “Shooting stars”, anyone? — and there is quite the cyclical setup going in the heavens. And The Bible tells me that God set all of this in motion for this expressed purpose.
The last reason God gives is that the sun and moon and stars will give light on the earth. As was previously stated, God was already supplying light — see day one — but He chooses to forego that method of providing light in favor of the sun and moon and stars. I can only speculate as to the reason why, but I suspect that the whole purpose of communication behind the lights in the heavens would have been frustrated with that constant light source interfering. It is only conjecture, though.
What do the sun and moon and stars say to me? They remind me that God keeps His promises. He promised Abraham descendants that could not be numbered any more than the stars could be. Scientists are still only guessing at how many stars there are and Abraham gets more descendants — both of his bloodline and people who put faith in God, as he did — every day. The Messiah came when He was scheduled to come and even folks who did not have all of scripture to work with could work that out … from the stars. I have heard the song of stars — You can, too. NASA has recordings posted on their SoundCloud account — and smile at the psalmist’s claim that they sing for God. I have no doubt that they do. Those lights also tell me that God wants to talk to me, by whatever means necessary.
Father, thank You for Your dedication to communicating with us. Please forgive me for the times I have been dull of ear and heart and the times I have outright refused to listen. Please give me ears to hear what You would say to me and a heart that is ready to obey.