‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning’, Jas. 1. 17.
On the first day of creation, God said, ‘Let there be light’. These are the first spoken words recorded in our Bible, Gen. 1. 3.
The result was immediate, ‘and there was light’. The darkness that had brooded over the face of the waters was dispelled as the light shone. ‘For God … commanded the light to shine out of darkness’, 2 Cor. 4. 6. The source of this initial light is not revealed to us; God commanded it and it appeared. From the beginning He was the originator, the Father of lights. God always acts in accordance with His own immutable character, ‘God is light, and in him is no darkness at all’, 1 John 1. 5.
On the fourth day of creation God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven … 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’, Gen. 1. 14, 16. This one verse of scripture speaks of the creation of the sun, the moon and the stars. Notice the double affirmation, ‘God made’ and ‘he made’. These celestial bodies were never the product of evolution; they are the handiwork of God.
Job, perhaps the earliest writer of all, writes, ‘Which alone spreadeth out the heavens … Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south’, Job 9. 8, 9.
David, as a shepherd boy, had many opportunities at night to gaze upward and marvel, as his eyes scanned the canopy of heaven. His thoughts are recorded in Psalm 8 verses 3 and 4, ‘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?’ He wondered that such an awesome God, who created the sun, moon and stars, and sustained the vast expanse of His universe, would take notice of puny man. He wrote in Psalm 19 verse 1, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork’. His conclusion was that the glory of God, as declared in the heavens, is a witness to all men everywhere, ‘There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard’, v. 3.
Paul repeats this assertion in the New Testament. ‘For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen … even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse’, Rom. 1. 20.
Isaiah, in discharging the commission given to him by the Lord to ‘comfort ye my people’, says, ‘Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number’, Isa. 40. 1, 26. There is nothing more uplifting to the believer than to contemplate the greatness, majesty and power of our God.
The Milky Way is the galaxy which contains the earth and our solar system. It is only one among untold millions of galaxies in the universe. The number of planets in our galaxy has been estimated as between one hundred billion and four hundred billion. It is amazing, even with the advancement in technology - such as the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope by NASA in 1990, and the completion of the huge China Sky Eye in 2016 - that scientists still cannot be more exact about numbers.
Our God is omniscient, and He knows all things, ‘He telleth the number of the stars’, Ps. 147. 4. He knows exactly the total number in each galaxy, and in all the galaxies of the universe. We can place the concerns we may have from day to day in His all-powerful hand, and say like Job, ‘he knoweth the way that I take’, 23. 10.
Not only does He know the total number, but an even more staggering thought is that ‘he calleth them all by their names’, Ps. 147. 4. He knows them individually. Some of their names are mentioned in scripture: Arcturus, Orion, Pleiades and Mazzaroth, Job 9. 9; 38. 31, 32. In the latter passage, Job is being questioned by the Lord as to his power to control them or to determine their influence over the earth. The comment of Spurgeon on these verses is a pertinent reminder of our limitations, ‘If inclined to boast of our abilities, the grandeur of nature may soon show us how puny we are. We cannot move the least of all the twinkling stars … We speak of power but the heavens laugh us to scorn. When the Pleiades shine forth in spring with vernal joy we cannot restrain their influences, and when Orion reigns aloft, and the year is bound in winter’s fetters, we cannot relax the icy bands’.1
God not only knows the number of His people, but He knows them individually, ‘I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine’, Isa. 43. 1. How intimately He knows us; the Lord Jesus said, ‘But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore’, Luke 12. 7.
Every star is unique. ‘There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory’, 1 Cor. 15. 41. How amazing that the Father of lights ordained that no two stars are the same, no two clouds nor two sunrises or sunsets; no two flowers, blades of grass or snowflakes, nor is the DNA of two people the same. Everything and everyone that God has created is an original.
The planets do not move randomly in the heavens. Their courses are determined and fixed by their Creator and the sun rises in the morning at His command. In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus said, ‘he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good’, Matt. 5. 45. The Lord asked Job the question, ‘Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days?’ Job 38. 12. Some will say that it’s just something that happens: day follows night; there is sunset and sunrise. The scripture says that our heavenly Father issues the command, and the sun rises and a new day dawns. He is the Father of lights.
No wonder the Psalmist exclaimed, ‘This is the day which the Lord hath made’, Ps. 118. 24. Each day is a gift from God; another opportunity to praise Him, another opportunity to serve Him. Moses, whose life spanned one hundred and twenty years, speaks of ‘the days of our years’ and says, ‘So teach us to number our days’, Ps. 90. 10, 12.
The Lord caused the sun to stand still when Israel went into battle against the Amorites, Josh. 10. 13.
He caused the sun to withhold its light at Calvary from the sixth hour until the ninth hour. This miraculous event is recorded by all three synoptic Gospels. To give Hezekiah a sign that he would be healed, the Lord moved the shadow on the dial of Ahaz backward by ten degrees. He did not move the sundial; He moved the sun, see 2 Kings chapter 20 verse 11.
With the time and the seasons, the position and intensity of the stars in the sky are subject to change, but our Father is immutable. He is the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. That which He ever was, He is now; that which He is now, He will ever be. He alone could say ‘For I am the Lord, I change not’, Mal. 3. 6. In the context of James chapter 1 verse 17, He is unchanging in His generosity towards His children.
The Lord asked Job another question, ‘Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?’ Job 38. 33, but in this realm, Job had neither knowledge nor influence. By contrast, the Lord speaks through the prophet Jeremiah, ‘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; cp. 33. 25. Every star follows exactly the ordinance planned by the Father of lights. He has ordained its position and velocity, and the intensity of its light.
What a contrast, when we read in Jude of ‘wandering stars’, v. 13, referring to the ‘certain men’ in verse 4. The inanimate creation follows the divine plan while mankind persists in rebellion against God.
In James chapter 1 verse 18 we read, ‘Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth’. The God who created and controls the vast universe is our Father; can we not trust Him to order our lives from day to day?
God made the sun, moon and stars so that they should: (1) ‘give [natural] light upon the earth’, Gen. 1. 17, and (2) declare His glory and show His handiwork, Ps. 19. 1. His desire is that believers today should give (spiritual) light to a dark world. Paul, writing to the Philippians, exhorted them, ‘That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world’, Phil. 2. 15. We are called to radiate something of the glory of God on earth, ‘do all to the glory of God’, 1 Cor. 10. 31, and to be living examples of His handiwork, cp. Eph. 2. 10.
Israel was forbidden to worship the stars, ‘And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars … shouldest be driven to worship them’, Deut. 4. 19. But they disobeyed and evoked God’s judgement. We do not worship the stars; we worship the Father of lights, who created and sustains them. We do not seek guidance from the stars, but rather from the One who guides them in their orbits.
Scripture sometimes speaks of inanimate creation praising the Lord, ‘Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light’, Ps. 148. 3. They praise Him as Creator, ‘he commanded, and they were created’, v. 5. Job speaks of how the morning stars sang together on creation’s morning, Job 38. 7. Isaiah adds, ‘the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands’, Isa. 55. 12. How are we to understand these statements?
They have no voice to articulate their praise. ‘They praise the Lord in fulfilling the end for which they were brought into the world, angels and men can praise Him in no other way’.2