The Heavenly Bodies Made to Give Light and to Serve as Signs. Part 2 of 3
by John Lowe
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
And God made two great lights;
This was His work which He did Himself; and it shows the foolishness of idolaters who worship these luminaries which were the creations of God, and were placed by him in the heavens to serve some purposes on earth beneficial to men, but not to be worshipped. These two "great lights" are the sun and the moon; and they may rightly be called great, especially the former, because the diameter of the sun is calculated to be about eight hundred thousand miles. The moon's diameter is 2175 miles, and its surface contains fourteen hundred thousand square miles. The moon has been called great, not on account of its size, since it is the least of all the planets except Mercury, but because of its superiority as a light; it reflects more light upon the earth than any heavenly body besides the sun,
Since Moses considered the day beginning at sunset, the moon, which would be seen first in the horizon, would appear “a great light,” when compared with the little twinkling stars; while its pale feeble radiance would be eclipsed by the dazzling splendor of the sun. When this brilliant sphere rose in the morning and gradually followed its course through the heavens in a blaze of glory, it would appear “the greater light” that ruled the day. Both these lights may be said to be “made” on the fourth day—not created, because a different word is used here, which indicates they were composed, and assigned to the important and necessary mission of serving as luminaries to the world, and regulating the divisions of time by their movement.
the greater light to rule the day,
The sun was never meant to rule over mankind, although the heathens have worshipped it under the names of Molech and Baal; names which signify king and lord, as if it was their lord and king to whom they were to pay homage; but by the decision of God it would preside over our world, give it light, and continue to do so until God and Christ are the light in the New Jerusalem. And it rules alone; it is greater than the moon and all the other planets. It is called the "greater light,” in comparison to the moon, not only with respect to its size or substance, but on account of its light, which is far greater and stronger than that of the moon; which in fact receives its light from the sun, since the moon cannot make light, and is, in actual fact, a reflecting body.
Let us learn from Psalm 19:1-6 how to give unto God the glory due unto his name, as the Maker of the sun.
Psalms 9:1-6 (KJV)
I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.
When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.
For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.
Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.
O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.
and the lesser light to rule the night:
The moon was designed by God to give light, although it is a fainter, dimmer light produced by reflecting it from the sun; and it rules alone, since the sun is on the other side of the earth at night. The moon is of great use to travelers and sailors (though not as useful as it used to be). It is called the “lesser light,” in comparison with the sun. Astronomers have determined that the moon is about fifty-two times smaller than the earth, and four thousand one hundred and
fifty times smaller than the sun. It is greater than any of the stars, not really, but it appears greater to the eye. Although it borrows its light from the sun it is said to “rule the night” because of the service it does for the benefit of man.
he made the stars also.
“He made the stars also,” in vast numbers and scattered them across the heavens, and they gave light to earth in some lesser degree than the sun and moon. There are several constellations which the Scriptures speak of, such as:
1. Job 9:9 (KJV) “Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south…”
2. Job 38:31 (KJV) “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?”
God made the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day since He has foreknowledge and realized the nonsense of the foolish philosophers who were going to say that the things produced on earth came from the stars, so that they might set God aside. Therefore, in order to demonstrate the truth, plants and seeds came into existence before the stars. Because that which comes into existence later cannot cause what comes before it.
The moon is said to “rule the night”, but the stars share in that administration, since they add their light to what the moon provides—“Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night” (Jer 31:35; KJV).
The ancients worshipped the sun, moon, and stars; this was foolish idolatry; but what we have learned plainly shows that they are both God's creation and man's servants and therefore it is both a great insult to God and a great criticism of ourselves to make deities of them and attribute to them what only God can do—“And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them” Deut 4:19; KJV). The worship of the heavenly bodies was the oldest species of idolatry. Those who did not have the knowledge of the true God were led to consider the sun, moon, planets, and stars, as not only self-existing, but the authors of all the blessings possessed by mankind. The knowledge of a rational system of astronomy served to destroy this superstition; and very little of it remains in the world.
Perhaps the chief reason for introducing the luminaries in this place was to guard against the notion that there were any luminaries which were not the work of Elohim, and in particular to prevent the Hebrews, for whom the creation record was written, from yielding to the heathen practices of star-gazing and star-worship. "The superstition of reading the destiny of man in the stars never took root among the Israelites; astrology is excluded by the belief in one all-powerful God. Jeremiah warns the Hebrews not to be afraid of the “signs of heaven,” before which the heathen tremble in vain terror (See Jeremiah 10:2); and Isaiah speaks with taunting irony against the astrologers, star-gazers, and monthly prognosticators, saying it is foolish and wicked to rely on their council—“Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee” (Isaiah 47:13; KJV). But the Israelites did not have enough moral strength to resist the example of star-worship in general; they could not keep aloof from an aberration which formed the focus of the principal Eastern religions; they yielded to that tempting influence, and paid honor to the sun and the hosts of heaven—“And the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of the kings of Judah, shall be defiled as the place of Tophet, because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense unto all the host of heaven, and have poured out drink offerings unto other gods” (Jer 19:13; KJV). (Also see Ezekiel 8:16; Zephaniah 1:5.).