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Reading Creation 2 - Thanking God for sunshine, our teacher

By Gerry Straker, 22 Apr 2020

Reading Creation 2 - Thanking God for sunshine, our teacher

Yesterday we thought about how to read creation. As new creations ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:17), we can now see with new eyes the glory of God glowing in the world around us. The Word teaches us to read the world aright and the world sends us back to the Word. The Bible is God’s words, and creation is God’s pictures, both illustrating the Bible and pointing us back to the Bible.

Here is the pay off from yesterday’s theology work that I hope you gave a go! What can we learn from the sunshine as we thank God for it? What can we read from it?

Here are ten things, to think about. I have lots to learn myself, and this is not exhaustive, but I hope this will help you enjoy sunshine as a gift from God and a teacher. Why not choose a couple to pray through?

1. Remember the Creator

‘God made the two great lights’ (Genesis 1:16), the sun and the moon, on the fourth day, and God saw it was good. God is the ‘Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime’[1] (i.e. indescribably beautiful). As you enjoy the sunshine, remember your Creator and praise him.

2. Remember the Creator’s purpose for the sun

We tend to think of the sun as a burning sphere of hydrogen and helium. But when Eustace says to Ramandu in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: '"In our world, a star is a huge ball of flaming gas." Ramandu replies: ‘Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of."’[2]

As we enjoy the sunshine, remember what the sun is; what God’s purposes are for the sun. God has given us the sun and moon to ‘separate the day from the night’ and ‘for signs and for seasons, and for days and years’ and ‘to give light on the earth’ and ‘the greater light to rule the day’ (Genesis 1:14-16). God created day, and night and seasons and years for our benefit as people, the pinnacle of his creation. He blesses us with ‘seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter.’ (Genesis 8:22).

‘Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.’[3]

Praise him, for giving us the sun to rule the day, for his steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 136:8).

3. Remember God rules the sun

We do not have the laws of physics ruling the universe, we have a Person. God usually runs the universe in ways that we can predict, based on previous experience, for instance: the sun will rise in the morning. But God sometimes does surprising things, which help us remember the truth – he rules the sun.

Joshua asks the LORD for more time to win the victory over the Amorites, and ‘the sun stood still…the sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since,’ (Joshua 10:12-14). Hezekiah asks Isaiah for a sign that he will be healed: ‘”Behold, I will make the shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial of Ahaz turn back ten steps.” So the sun turned back on the dial the ten steps by which it had declined.’ (Isaiah 38:8). (This might, of course, be a local miracle rather than a universal one).

God rules the sun - he has the power to decide it won’t rise (Job 9:7). Our universe is run by our great God: praise Him!

4. Remember God is like the sun

‘For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favour and honour. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.‘ (Psalm 84:11-12).

As God's gift, the sun brings blessing (light, warmth, growth) so God the Giver gives favour and honour. God is the ultimate giver of good things: thank Him.

5. Remember the Lord Jesus

David sings this in 2 Samuel 23:3-4 (this is Dale Ralph Davis’ translation):

‘Ruler over mankind- righteous!
Ruler – fear of God!
And as the light of morning (when) the sun rises,
Morning without clouds,
Because of brightness, because of rain
- grass from the earth.’[4]

This is a prophecy about the King to come, who will break through the darkness, like a sunrise breaking through the gloom. And like sunshine and rain he will bring growth. This is a lovely and joyful picture of the world as it should be when Jesus reigns., When ‘the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. (Malachi 4:2) and because of God’s tender mercy, ‘the sunrise shall visit us from on high, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. (Luke 1:78-79). The Lord Jesus like the dawn of a new day, shines out righteousness and healing in his wings – like the rays of the sun on us.

‘Hail the Heav'nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and Life to All he brings,
Ris'n with Healing in his Wings.’[5]

When John meets the glorified Lord Jesus, he falls at his feet as though dead (Revelation 1:17), and Jesus’ face is ‘like the sun shining in full strength.’ (Revelation 1:16). We can't look at the sun, and we can't in our present state look on the glorious Lord Jesus! Fall down before Jesus!

6. Remember the cross

As we thank God for the sunshine, remember what the absence of sunshine means. The ninth plague, before the death of the firstborn (Exodus 12), was the plague of darkness (Exodus 10:21-22). Before the Firstborn Son, dies as the Passover Lamb, God darkens the sun to show his judgement falling on Christ Jesus (Mark 15:33) – Jesus was forsaken by God, so that we never have to face the darkness of God's judgement, thanks be to God.

7. Remember judgement

The removal of the sun’s light is a picture of judgement (Mark 13:24) as the end of an Empire (Isaiah 13:1, 10). Judgement for unbelievers is pictured as darkness (Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). As well as the darkening of the sun as judgement, the scorching of the sun is also a judgement, on the land (Isaiah 9:19) on guilty people (Isaiah 24:6; James 1:11; Revelation 16:8-9). As the sun can be a blessing (warmth, light, growth) or a curse (scorching), so can the presence of God can be a blessing or a curse. Praise God that all who turn to him won't experience his judgement of darkness or scorching.

8. Remember we are to be like the sun

Deborah and Barak sing a song after the LORD had given his people victory over Sisera and the last line is this: ‘So may all your enemies perish, O LORD! But your friends be like the sun as he rises in his might.’ (Judges 5:31). As the sun wins victory over darkness day by day, because we are God’s friends through the victory of Christ, so we win victories over darkness day by day.

And we are to let our ‘light shine before others,’ (Matthew 5:16) and, in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation’ we are to ‘shine as lights in the world’ (Philippians 2:15).

9. Remember we will be like the sun

At the resurrection, those who are wise will ‘shine like the brightness of the heavens.’ that is, the sun. (Daniel 12:3). ‘Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.’ (Matthew 13:43). Here’s Matthew Henry commenting on this verse:

‘Here they are obscure and hidden, their beauty is eclipsed by their poverty, and by the meanness of their outward condition; their own weaknesses and infirmities, and the reproach and disgrace cast upon them, cloud them; but then they shine forth publicly before all the world, their bodies will be made like Christ’s glorious body: they shall shine by reflection, with a light borrowed from the Fountain of light; their sanctification will be perfected, and their justification published; God will own them for his children, and for his name, and will produce the record of all their sufferings and services for his name: they shall shine like the sun the most glorious of all visible beings…Those who shine as lights in this world, that God may be glorified, shall shine as the sun in the other world, that they may be glorified.’

10. Remember there will be no sun

Back in Genesis 1, light was the first thing God created on day one, but there was no sun until day four. In the new creation, there will again be light without the sun, ‘for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb’ (Revelation 21:23) and ‘night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light.’ (Revelation 22:5). The sun will not be needed in the new creation. Instead of basking in sunshine, we will bask in the glory of God! The sunshine now points us forward to the shining of the glory of God then.

10 reasons to thank God for sunshine… which will you choose today?

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

[1] ‘Crown Him with Many Crowns’ written by Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring.
[2] C S Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, (1955; Repr., London: Harper Collins, 1999), 159.
[3] ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’ written by Thomas Chisholm.
[4] Dale Ralph Davis, 2 Samuel, (Fearn, Ross-shire: Christian Focus, 1999), 244.
[5] This is Charles Wesley’s original verse of what we know as ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing.’ This first line of the hymn we sing was given by George Whitefield in his adaptation.