"Let there be lights in the dome of the sky..."

Thursday: Genesis 1. 14-23

“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky 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 dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon 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.

And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.’ So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.”

In ancient mythologies, the sun and moon were powerful gods in their own right, and were worshipped as such. Not so for this story teller. On the 4th Day God sets the sun, moon and stars “in the dome of the sky”—like a skilled jeweler setting gem stones in a diadem. (Look back at the picture from yesterday). They are beautiful because they are God’s creation, but they have no power or purpose beyond that assigned to them. The sun(god) does not create the day. At best he serves the day, and us, marking time and seasons and years. The Creating God, not the sun, is the source of our light.

Be careful, the story teller is saying (rather gently, it seems). Be careful to worship only the Maker, never the made; the Creator, and never the creation. To do otherwise, the Bible writers say, is idolatry. The end of idolatry, we will see in the months ahead, is exile—separation from your country, from all you hold dear and, for a time at least, separation even from God.

The 4th Day of Creation says as much to us. Though we are too sophisticated to call our idols “gods” or our service to them “worship”, the effect is the same. Wealth, power, security, youth and beauty, “my country right or wrong”—when our desire for any of these or our allegiance to any of these clouds our vision of the Creator of all of these, we have forsaken (or not yet awakened to) the light of the 4th Day.

Everything good, the story tells us, from the gems sparkling in the night sky to the soil under our feet, everything is God’s Creation—intended not for our worship, but for our pleasure; not to raise anxiety or fear, but to bring peace.

And the 5th Day? O yeah—birds and fish and sea monsters. Lots of them. Swarms of them. And God says, “That’s pretty good!”

Prayer: “For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies; Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise”. Amen.

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