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So far, we have the heavens and the earth, we have light and darkness, we have the firmament, the sky and last week, Pastor Mike told us about the dry land, the plants, and the vegetation and everything that we enjoy about trees and fruit and it was all good. All that took place in three, literal 24-hour periods of time. We finished with the third day of creation. Today, we wake up to the fourth day.
Take a look at Gen. 1:14-19 that describes day 4 of creation.
We begin today listening to God as He speaks. V. 14 says, “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.” God is systematic in His process of creation. On day 4, He provides a specific light source to separate the day from the night. On day 1, there was a separation of light and darkness that is now defined. There are lights, plural, “in the expanse of the heavens.” “The expanse of the heavens” is a reference to what we see above us. Remember, creation is a geocentric account. The lights serve three specific purposes. First, the lights provide a separation, a distinction between day and night. When it gets dark out, we call it night. I’m sure there have been summer storms when the clouds roll in when you’ve used the phrase, “It’s dark as night out there.” If we wait around for a while in the night, the dark becomes light and we call it day. It happens over and over again, In my lifetime, it’s happened over 20,000 times.
Night is used metaphorically as in nothing good happens at night. Night and day are distinct. Most people work during the day and sleep at night. Sometimes babies get their days and nights mixed up. We take day trips. God has defined the light and that’s what makes it daytime. Second, the lights are also to be used as, “signs and for seasons and for days and years.” Sign, in this context, is a visible mark or object intended to convey a clear message. When you pair the word with, “and for seasons,” it makes a little more sense. “Signs and for seasons” seem to indicate time periods during greater time periods. This makes sense when you look at cross references and link the phrase that starts this verse, “let them be.” God is orchestrating their purpose. Ps. 74:17 says, “You have established all the boundaries of the earth; You have made the summer and winter.” The lights define the seasons, the days, and the years. During the winter months, the light is less. During the summer months, the light is more. Seconds turn to minutes, minutes to hours, hours to days, days to months, months to years, years to decades, decades to centuries, centuries to millennia. Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives. Third, the lights are, “to give light on the earth.” This is not the first time we’ve seen light in creation, but now there is a permanence to their purpose and function. The lights provide a luminosity that allows us to see in the dark. Even in the middle of the night, there is enough light to walk about and generally be able to find your way. God provides a declaration or designation for the lights. “And let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.” When God speaks, His creation must listen. God declared and defined the roles of the lights: the light-bearers in the firmament of the atmosphere provide light on the earth. There was no other option: “it was so.” Those lights have been serving in this capacity ever since.
The lights are then defined. As far as earth is concerned, there are just two lights that we can count on in the sky. Just two lights that provide the luminosity enabling us to see. They are both great. V. 16 says, “God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also.” Notice here that the words sun and moon are not used. One light is greater while the other is lesser. They are both light-bearers or luminaries and both have defined roles. These celestial bodies follow the rules established by the Creator. Oddly enough, there are people that consider these two great lights as bodies to be worshiped. There is the sun god Ra that Egyptians worshiped as the source of life. There are a number of other names for a sun god including Helios, Apollo, and Mitra. Moon worship is not as prevalent as sun worship although there were some ancient cultures that considered the moon greater because it appears bigger in the sky. The moon was thought to be male and the sun female. There is archaeological evidence to support that the Egyptians believed that the moon and sun were married and the stars were their children. Interestingly, 20 nations feature the sun on their flag. 18 countries feature the moon on their nation’s flag. Of those countries, the crescent moon is featured because it cycles from new moon to waning crescent and everything in between. The sun offers no such cycles. So, the greater light governs the day and the lesser light the night. Keep in mind that the sun is the only source of physical light to us. The light we see on the moon is what is reflected off of the sun. Ps. 104:19 reminds us that, “He made the moon for the seasons; the sun knows the place of its setting.”
In addition to the greater light and the lesser light, “He made the stars also.” I love what looks like an afterthought. Yes, God made the greater light and the lesser light, but he also made the stars that go beyond what the eye can see, that go beyond what the most sophisticated telescopes we have can see. Is. 40:26 commands us to, “Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing.” In His incredible handiwork, God made the sun and the moon and He also made stars that fill the void of space and provide and incomprehensible display of His imagination. Ps. 136:7-9 “To Him who made the great lights, for His lovingkindness is everlasting: the sun to rule by day, for His lovingkindness is everlasting, the moon and stars to rule by night, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” As far as you can see into the sky, God created that. There are a lot of celestial bodies in the vast expanse of space. Planets, dwarf planets, moons, and stars, and when you look up you can see several thousand of those objects. Interestingly enough, there was some debate about 14 years ago when the dwarf planet Eris was first discovered. Astronomers and scientists argued that Pluto was really a dwarf planet. That set forth many arguments over planets. Eris gets its name from the Greek goddess that means strife and discord. Aptly named.
Get a decent telescope and now you can see millions of stars. As Pastor Zane mentioned a couple of weeks ago, no one can know just how many stars there are, but astronomers estimate there are maybe 1012 stars in our galaxy and perhaps 1012 galaxies giving us about 1024 (septillion) stars. The sun is actually a star that is about 4.37 light years from the sun. A light year is a measure of distance: it is the distance light travels in one year. One light year is about 6 trillion miles. To give you some basis for comparison, the United States is 2680 miles wide, the earth is almost 8000 miles at the equator, and the moon is almost 239,000 miles from earth. Ps. 19:1 says, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” So why do people worship the sun or moon or stars? It’s called astrolatry which is a form of idolatry. It was practiced extensively in Egypt, Babylon, Judah, and Israel. It’s never been okay. De. 4:19 gives us this warning: “And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.” Why do people pay attention to horoscopes? Why do people think their future is in the stars? Great questions. Jeremiah warned against star worship, as did Zephaniah, and Ezekiel. I think idolatry stems from our sinful nature that desperately wants to worship something, anything that will fulfill the desire we have placed in our hearts by God. As we’ll see in Chapter 3, sin separated us from what God designed. The intimacy in the relationship with God was something that God desired to have with us, His creation. The void in our soul, the very being of who we are is a vast emptiness that we will fill with something. According to atheists.org, “Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.” Even those that claim to believe in nothing have a faith system that believes in no gods.
Throughout history, humanity has made attempts to fill the void created through disobedience. We really need to look at Romans 1:18-25. You’ve heard this passage several times during this current series. I encourage you to take the time to read Rom. 1:18-25. Paul captured it perfectly. There is so much to see here, but I want to highlight just a few things that describe what we see in our culture today.
Verse 18, they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”
Verse 19, “That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.”
Verse 21, they, “became futile in their speculations.”
Verse 22, “Professing to be wise, they became fools.”
Verse 25, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”
We are where we are in this world because we have chosen to ignore the proof that surrounds us. You can choose to believe all that we have surrounding us simply came into being. That is quite a leap of faith. Or you can choose to believe that there is one, true God who was intentional in His creation, that was intentional in ordering the universe, that was intentional in what He modeled for us, and that was intentional in His desire for us.
Jer. 31:35: “Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; the Lord of hosts is His name.” Each of us has an opportunity to share the truth about who God is and why we are here. If you are a believer, you have the meaning of life that people seek. You have the direction people need to go. Through the power of the Holy spirit, you have been given the privilege and responsibility to share the truth. Dan. 2:3 reminds us, “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”