14 And 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, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
Confession: I am a sucker for videos and pictures of dogs. If you want me to click on an article all it needs to be is a series of dogs doing cute or funny things. Recently, I was suckered into clicking on one that was made of unthreatening dogs standing in front of dangerous dog signs (the sign on the gate reads “Beware of Guard Dog” and the dog behind the fence is clearly a chihuahua for example). This contrast between expectation and reality is in part behind the writer of Genesis’s intention here. To explain, ancient civilizations worshipped and feared the sun, moon and stars. As Bible scholar Gordon Wenham mentions, “The most obvious reason for the detail in the fourth day’s description is the importance of the astral bodies in ancient Near Eastern thought. In neighboring cultures, the sun and the moon were some of the most important gods in the pantheon, and the stars were often credited with controlling human destiny.” Other cultures would make these things out to be gods, but how does the God of the Bible explain them- they are but tools to separate day from night. As a matter of fact, the author here doesn’t even give them their usual names, he merely calls them the big light and the little light (my paraphrasing). What’s He getting at? His point is that these big threatening Near Eastern gods are just the light bulbs in God Almighty’s universe. He is looking at the things which other cultures would fear and says in effect “God made these cute little lights.” He’s showing that the vicious attack dog behind the fence is nothing but a noisy chihuahua. What’s the point in all this? The God of the Bible is subject to no one, afraid of nothing. As a result, we who find our hope in Him have nothing to fear. Take whatever fear you have right now. What’s that persistent worry you can’t get out of your mind? The Lord says its nothing to Him— a powerless little pup standing behind a scary “Beware” sign. This is the God we serve, and in Him we can rest at ease.
Today let this be your prayer: Heavenly Father, you are Lord above all. Even the massive stars and planets are nothing before you. If they follow your design, then nothing is too big for you to handle. Take my anxious thoughts, my worries, and help me to see that it is all under your control. Let me find my rest in You. Amen.