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How often we take the sun, moon and stars for granted and do not stop to think what the sky would be like without them. Everyone should realise how much beauty would be lost but the scientist can also tell us that the whole balance of the universe would disappear. The importance of these heavenly bodies is also emphasised in the Bible. The materials for their formation were made on the first day of creation but we learn from the Genesis record that the sun, moon and stars were not brought to completion until the fourth day. It was then that "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." Following the fourth day they would influence the development of the earth.
Their purposes are said to be "to divide the day from the night... for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: and... for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth..." (Genesis 1.14,15) Following the fourth day the separation between the light and the darkness would be regulated by the sun and moon. The sun would govern the day, beginning it by its rising and ending it by its setting. The moon would rule the night shining during the darkness. As God established this it continues even now. For this God is to be thanked. (Psalm 136.1-3,7-9)
These heavenly bodies were also intended to serve as signs. They do so in connection with the weather (Matthew 16.2,3). They were used by God in the past for special guidance. When the Lord Jesus Christ was born the wise men saw "his star in the east." (Matthew 2.2) These great works of God are also mentioned as signs in connection with God's judgements. "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come." (Joel 2.31)
These heavenly bodies and their positions in relation to the earth would also influence its seasons. The earth's position in relation to the sun brings about the four seasons; Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. The moon was used in ancient Israel to fix certain religious seasons which came to an end with the temple worship.
The sun and moon also have a great influence on our days and years. The earth's rotation on its axis takes twenty four hours which we call "one day". The earth's orbit around the sun takes three hundred and sixty five days from which we have our "year", and the phases of the moon measure the months.
These heavenly bodies were also to be for "lights" or "light-bearers". Things continue in this way. By day the sun shines, and by night the moon gives light.
These great works tell everyone, all of the time how great God is. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard'. (Psalm 19.1-3) Even if people take no notice of the spiritual message of the heavens including the sun, moon and stars, their message is still there. Day after day, night after night, they are showing us how great and glorious their Creator is. Scientists tell us that some of the stars are millions of millions of millions of miles away. Such distances are beyond what our minds can grasp and should cause us to marvel that such a gloriously great Creator should be interested in such little people as we. "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (Psalm 8.3,4)
"To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth." (Isaiah 40.25,26)
Universe, formation, completion, development, subsequently, regulated, rotation, axis.
1. What five purposes are given in Genesis in connection with the sun, moon and stars?
2. Why can we say the sun governs or rules the day?
3. In what ways do the heavenly bodies serve as signs?
4. What are the four main seasons of the year?
5. Give the length of time taken for each of the following: (a) the earth's rotation on its axis; and (b) the earth's orbit around the sun.
6. What did the psalmist think that the heavens showed about God?
7. What do the heavens teach us about ourselves?
8. Write about what you like best in the sky.
1. Find a junior science book to tell you more about each of the following: (a) the surface of the moon; (b) the surface of the sun; (c) constellations.
2. Read about some of the famous astronomers and what they believed about the sun, moon and stars. See how ideas have changed. (a) Ptolemy 2nd Century, (b) Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), (c) Kepler and the three laws of planetary motion (1571-1630), (d) Isaac Newton (1642-1727).
1. Make your own map or plaster mould of the surface of the moon as seen from the earth.
2. Using a junior science book to help you, write down the differences between: (i) the sun and the moon, (ii) planets and stars, (iii) planets and moons, (iv) comets and asteroids.
3. Look in a book about astronomy and find the names of the main constellations and find out what their names mean. Use stick on stars to show these constellations in your record book.
Psalm 19.1-5 (Common Metre)
The heav'ns God's glory do declare,
the skies his hand-works preach:
Day utters speech to day, and night
to night doth knowledge teach.
There is no speech nor tongue to which
their voice doth not extend:
Their line is gone through all the earth
their words to the world's end.
In them he set the sun a tent;
Who, bridegroom-like forth goes,
From's chamber, as a strong man doth
to run his race rejoice.