Luminaries are described in the Bible as the sun, moon, and stars which God created on the fourth day to separate day from night and be for signs and seasons. The word “luminaries” comes from the Latin word “lumen” meaning light. In Genesis 1:14-19, we read:
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, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 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. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
- God created the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day to separate day from night and be for signs and seasons.
- The sun is called the greater light to rule the day.
- The moon is called the lesser light to rule the night.
- The stars are also part of the luminaries God created.
- Together, the luminaries provide light upon the earth.
Throughout Scripture, the luminaries are seen as examples of God’s majestic creation and His sovereign power. Here are some key passages that mention the sun, moon, and stars as God’s creation:
- Key Takeaways:
- The Meaning of Luminaries for Today
The Luminaries Show God’s Glory
In Psalm 19, David reflects on how the heavens declare the glory of God:
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)
The luminaries continuously pour forth speech and reveal knowledge about God’s majestic creative power. They showcase God’s handiwork in a visible way for all the world to see.
The Luminaries Are Under God’s Control
As part of God’s creation, the sun, moon, and stars operate under His sovereign direction and control:
He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. (Psalm 104:19)
Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is his name… (Jeremiah 31:35)
God put the luminaries in motion according to an established order. He causes the sun to rise and set each day. Even the roaring sea is under God’s sovereign control and obeys His established decrees.
Darkening of the Luminaries as Judgment
At pivotal moments in history, God darkens the sun, moon, and stars as a sign of judgment:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Matthew 24:29)
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.” (Joel 2:30-31)
Blocking out the light of the luminaries shows that God alone controls the fate of the world. It strikes fear and announces the day of reckoning is near.
Luminaries Remain Constant Amid Change
While seasons change on earth, the luminaries remain constant in the expanse above:
Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. (Psalm 102:25-27)
No matter what changes take place on earth over the passing years, the Creator of the luminaries remains the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Jesus’ Second Coming Changes the Luminaries
When Jesus returns, the sun, moon, and stars will be radically changed:
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:29-30)
There will be cosmic signs and disturbances in the heavens signaling Christ’s return in power and glory.
New Heavens and Earth Have No Need of Sun and Moon
In the new creation, the luminaries are no longer needed:
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. (Revelation 21:22-23)
With God’s unveiled glory illuminating the new heavens and earth, there is no more night and no need for the sun, moon, and stars. The Lamb alone is its light.
The Bright Morning Star Symbolizes Christ
Jesus takes the title “Bright Morning Star” showing He is the light of the world:
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (Revelation 22:16)
As the morning star appears just before dawn, Jesus came to earth first to provide the light of salvation. When He comes again, it will be as the full revelation of God’s glory.
The Meaning of Luminaries for Today
For Christians today, the sun, moon, and stars should remind us of several key truths:
- God’s creation showcases His majestic power and divine nature. The luminaries visibly demonstrate God’s handiwork and glory.
- The universe operates under God’s sovereign direction and for His purposes. The sun, moon, and stars obey His established laws.
- While seasons on earth change, God remains constant and eternal. He transcends time and space.
- Jesus is the light of the world who brings salvation. He is like the bright morning star who appears before dawn.
- God sometimes uses cosmic signs involving the luminaries to get our attention about coming judgment and the day of the Lord.
- In the new creation, the luminaries are no longer needed because of the full revelation of God’s glory.
As we study the meaning of luminaries in Scripture, it should lead us to worship the incredible Creator who set them in motion for His glory. Though the heavens and earth will pass away, God’s Word remains forever true.