Reading the tragedy Medea by Euripides, I noted Medea’s grandfather is Helios, the sun. She begs Helios and the gods to come to her aid and avenge her against her husband’s betrayal. In Greek myth, the powerful rulers and leaders were said to be the children of the sun, the moon, love, fire, dawn, etc. Centuries later, the apostle Paul alludes to this belief when he gives a discourse to the Athenians of the first century at the Areopagus. Paul, taught by the first century Jewish law-interpreter Gamaliel, was skilled in the art of rhetoric, so the Athenians had him speak on the new Christian ‘philosophy.’ During his presentation he quoted one of their philosophers, saying, “…as certain also of your own poets have said, ‘We are also his offspring’” (from Acts 17:28). Paul was pointing to this belief as something he had in common with them, since Christians believe we are all God’s children.
“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” – Acts 17:29
Paul, speaking in one of the best social networking venues in Athens—a city known for its idol-making industry—gives a logic lesson: It is not sound thinking to create something to worship with one’s own hands because God is far above these physical resources.
How did the Athenians take this lesson? Some believed, and some didn’t. Whether they agreed with the tenets of Christianity or not, they seemed to find Paul’s philosophy interesting. They told Paul they’d have him speak again for them.
If God didn’t make the sun, moon, and stars for us to fashion idols after, what did He make them for?
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years;
Their purpose wasn’t solely for light because light already existed before they were created. God set the sun, moon, and stars to the task of signaling the days and nights. They also denote seasons and help me keep track of years, granting me awareness of time passing.
Time is a creation of a Being who exists outside its rules. God can interrupt it, halt it, step into it, and see all aspects of time at once. So God doesn’t need a way to keep a record of time; He provides this for us.
And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
He caused light to stream from vast distances and to reach the earth in a twinkling. There are theories that the creation of the earth in six days was impossible because of the distance of celestial bodies in our universe. Some wonder how light from quasars billions of light years away could possibly travel to our planet if the earth is only as old as 6K to 10K years. Given the limitations of natural law, could the light ever reach us on a young earth? It’s a viable question, but not for a Creator with unlimited power. God is not hemmed in by the law of cause and effect. He created it. So, the light would have been seen on Earth when God created these stars and celestial systems, just as there was light on the Earth before the stars were created. It was supernatural and easily carried out by the One who created time and its markers in the first place.
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.
While the sun and moon are the objects used to present this light, they are not said to be the originators of the light. Where that light originates is not even discussed in this verse. Perhaps this is why God chose to create light before He set a fiery sun in the sky, to prompt me to ask the question: “From where does the light originate?” The light came from Him. The sun is now given the task to uphold by natural law what He brought into existence days before.
And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
Isn’t it fascinating to think of God setting those beautiful forms in the universe, like someone adorning a gown with diamonds, rubies, and glittering jewels? The Earth is the center of the universe in this sense; it is days older than the stars. The sun, moon, and stars were created for the earth to thrive. The Earth was created for us to thrive. Does this mean humans actually are the center of the universe? (Heh.) God is the center. He’s the beginning and the end, as well.
God placed lights in space to help us keep a record of the passage of time.
These lights began to shine on Earth from the moment of their existence.
The sun was made to signal Day, the moon was made to signal Night, and He made the stars.
God called them all good.
And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
In four days He created the world and its universe. The Master Designer set everything in motion in space, a beautifully organized machine. Though I can’t perceive by sight or touch how they remain fixed in their orbits, I can understand cause and effect—the pull of the planets and stars, the effect of the moon on the seas. I am comforted when I see these bodies in space, like the North Star or the constellation Orion. They will go on, marking the times and seasons. God fixed them in the sky to assure us that He will guide us, if we will let Him.
Genesis 8:22:“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
Featured image in public domain by Karen Arnold.