Bruce Barton said, "When you're though changing, you're though." Change is inevitable,
and one might just as well refuse to accompany the earth in rotating on its axis as to refuse to
accept change. Robert Burns said, "Look abroad thro' Nature's range, Nature's mighty law
is change." Longfellow points out, "There are no birds in last year's nest." Change is
constant, and Robert Browning feels we should be excited about this fact of reality, for he
writes, "Rejoice that man is hurled, from change to change unceasingly, his soul's wings
Change is essential to progress, and as man's concepts of reality keep changing and
expanding, he draws nearer to the Author of reality, and the God who changes not. Truth in
any realm points to the Author of truth. When man stopped centering his thoughts on
himself alone, and took the whole world into consideration, he became geocentric. When he
realized that the earth was not the center of the solar system, but that the sun was, he became
heliocentric. Then man learned that the sun is just one of billions of stars in the galaxy, and
he became galactocentric. The final stage of growth is when man learns that the one who
made all of the vast universe is a Person, and then they become Christocentric. When we
study space and objects like the moon we are studying the handiwork of Jesus our Savior.
This changes how we see everything.
There were many who objected to man's going to the moon, and many even said the Bible
taught that it was impossible. They said that it was not God's will for man to go into space.
But Wernher Von Braun, the Christian who was greatly responsible for man getting to the
moon said, "..don't tell me he doesn't belong out there. Man belongs wherever he wants to
go." Man is made to be an adventurer and climb every mountain just because God put it
there. The Bible does not settle all issues dealing with the moon, even though it refers to the
moon 34 times in the Old Testament and 9 times in the New Testament. Our interest in this
message is to just learn all we can about what the Bible says about the moon.
I. THE PURPOSE OF THE MOON.
Our text makes it clear that the moon was no mere accident. God created it for a
definite purpose. The God of light filled His creation with lights, and He prepared the earth
to have a lighting system for both day and night. The creation of the moon was an act of
God's love for man, even before man was created. If there was no moon or stars, man would
be plunged into total darkness each night. Total darkness, however, is reserved for those
who reject completely the light of God, and especially the light of the world-Jesus Christ.
The most simple and obvious purpose of the moon is to give light to the earth at night.
It is the secondary of the two great lights. The first reference to the moon in the Bible in
verse 16 does not name it, but it simply calls it the lesser light. Lesser is an understatement,
for it would take 600 thousand full moons to equal the splendor of the sun. The moon always
plays second fiddle to the sun. In Buddhist thought the sun is spirit and the moon is matter.
The ancient felt that when man died his spirit went to the sun and his body to the moon.
Being inferior to the sun lead the ancients to think of the moon as female, and the sun as
male. We think of the man in the moon, but the people of the East think of a maiden in the
moon. We shall see that the Bible followers the Eastern imagery, and it refers to the moon as
the Queen of heaven. Verse 16 says a greater light is to rule the day and the lesser light to
rule the night. It follows then logically that the sun is king and the moon queen. George
How like a queen comes forth the lovely moon,
From the slow opening curtains of the clouds,
Walking in beauty to her midnight throne!
In Gen. 37:9 Joseph had a dream that the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed down to
him. The sun was his father, the moon was his mother, and the eleven stars were his
brothers. We see the moon is associated with the female. Later we shall we that poets always
refer to the moon as female. The moon is second to the sun, but it is superior to the stars. In
Joseph's dream the stars are the children. Here in Gen. 2 it the great lights that are stressed
and the stars are merely mentioned. Elsewhere the stars are made much of, but in terms of
visible and practical light the moon is superior to the stars. Sir Henry Wotten wrote,
You meaner beauties of the night,
That poorly satisfy our eyes,
More by your number than your light;
You common people of the skies.
What are you when the moon shall rise?
The stars then are the common people of the skies, and the sun and moon are the
royalty. The Bible supports this image, and Milton in Paradise Lost gives a beautiful picture
Now glow'd the firmament
With living sapphires; Hesperus, that led
The strong host, rode brightest, till the moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length
Apparent queen, unveil'd her peerless light,
And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.
The sun, the moon, the stars, in that order is there glory, for in that order God made them
for the purpose of giving light to the earth.
In verse 14 we see another purpose of the moon, and that is to be a sign. God expected
man to be an astronomer. No one puts signs where they will never be read. God put the sun,
moon and stars in the sky for signs, and He expected man to read these signs and learn how
they regulate the days, months and seasons. Man got the point of God's purpose almost
universally. The Chaldeans, Persians, Hindus, Chinese and Egyptians all named the 7 days
of the week after the sun, moon and the planets, just as we do. We begin with sun-day, then
moon-day, and then Tuesday from the name for Mars, Wednesday from Woden, which is the
same as Mercury, then Thursday for Thor, who was also Jupiter, then Friday for Friga, who
was also Venus, and finally Saturday from Saturn. There are two females out of the seven,
and they are the queen moon and Venus Friday.
The moon is God's calendar in the sky. Psa. 104:19 says, "The moon marks off the
seasons..." The movements of the moon determined all of the holy days of the Jews. Their
whole ritual and ceremonial life was guided by the moon. Marking the seasons made the
moon the sign by which men judged seed time and harvest. Many of us are old enough to
remember the song, Shine On Harvest Moon. The moon played such an important role as a
sign of change that it became the weather-woman. Weather-man sounds more normal to us,
but the moon played the role first as female. Virgil, the ancient Latin writer, said, "If
unheard cheeks you see the maiden's blush, the ruddy moon foreshadows that winds will
rush." The people of the old world took weather reports based on the moon very seriously.
It could be a matter of life and death for those on the sea. Aratus wrote,
Pale moon doth rain, red moon doth blow.
White moon doth neither rain nor snow.
If with deep blush her maiden cheek be red,
Then boisterous wind the cautious sailors dread.
Farmers the world over have considered the moon a sign by which they regulate their
activities. The moons influence on the tides connects it with water.
In Egypt the moon means moisture. In Peru at the time of the full moon they have a festival
to the deities of water. The moons connection with water naturally makes it important to
farmers since they depend on moisture for their livelihood. You can get to much of a good
thing however. In Scotland they have this advice in poetry:
If the moon shows like a silver shield,
You need not be afraid to reap your field;
But if she rises haloed round,
Soon we'll tread on deluged ground.
I don't know if the weather reports of the past were anymore unreliable than they are
today, but then all they had to go by were God's signs in the sky. No doubt they were
misread often, and false ideas were imposed on the meaning of these signs, but the fact is,
God intended the moon to be for the purpose of giving men a sign for helping him to
regulate his life and activities in an orderly fashion.
Another purpose of the moon in God's plan is to be a sign of stability and security. This
sounds strange to us because it is the most changeable body in the sky. Juliet wanted no part
of the moon in her romance. Romeo said,
"Lady, by yonder blessed moon I swear
That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops." She replies,
"O! Swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon,
That monthly changes in her circled orb,
Less that thy love prove likewise variable."
She missed the point of the moon completely. She failed to see that in all its changes it is
ever the same. It changes in a fixed order that is sure and reliable. It never fails, for it is
ever the same in its constant change. Speaking of the line of David God assures him in Psa.
89:37, "Like the moon it shall endure forever; it shall stand firm while the skies endure." In
Psa. 72:5,7 there is a reference to a righteous king, and it says, "May he live...as long as the
moon, throughout all generations." "In his days may righteousness flourish, and peace
abound, till the moon be no more." In Jer. 31:35 God assures Israel she shall endure as long
as the fixed order of the moon. Because of such promises we read this in the Jewish
Encyclopedia: "The moon, on account of its monthly reappearance, is considered the
emblem of Israel: The latter, like the moon, undergoing several phases through persecution
without being destroyed." One of the purposes of the moon is to give the believer a sign in
the heavens of God's unchanging faithfulness in the midst of constant change.
In contrast to this the moon is also God's primary sign for expressing His judgment. We
cannot take time now to look at all the passages in the prophets where God warns of blotting
out the sun, moon and stars in anger against Israel. The moon plays a unique role as a sign,
for it is associated with blood. In Joel 2:31 we read, "The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes." The moon as
a sign of judgment is dominant in the New Testament. Six out of the nine references are to
its use as a sign of wrath. In Acts and Revelation the moon is like blood, and the Gospel
refer to it as ceasing to give light after the tribulation. Luke does not mention loss of light or
likeness to blood, but adds some interesting detail. In Luke 21:25 we read, "There will be
signs in the sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at
the roaring of the sea and the waves." Great tidal waves will result from God's use of the
moon in judgment.
At the time of judgment the friendly moon, which causes the beneficial tides will
suddenly become an enemy with power to flood the world. The believer can look at the moon
as a sign of security, but the unbeliever who does not repent before the day of the Lord will
be destroyed by its power. The moon is a faithful friend, but also a fearful foe. The moon
has determined the outcome of more than one battle. The most famous is that in Joshua
10:12-13 where Joshua prays, "Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou moon in the valley
of Aijalon. And the sun stood still and the moon stayed, and Israel defeated the Amorites."
Fascinating books are written on this event. Marvelous has been the influence of the moon
on this earth physically, historically, and even spiritually.
The final sign we want to consider is the one, which is most popular. The moon is a
symbol of beauty. In the romantic context of the love song of Solomon the beautiful maiden
is referred to in 6:10 as being fair as the moon. After bouncing around in its dust maybe the
men who walked on the moon could no longer say this to their wives. The beauty and
romantic value of the moon depends upon distance. It would be a barren and desolate place
for a honeymoon. God's art in the sky is like great art on earth; it looks better at a distance.
The moon has stimulated more poetry on love than any other heavenly body. It moves men's
hearts as it moves the sea. Keats asks,
What is there in thee, moon that thou
Shouldst move my heart so potently.
The Hebrews used a special word for the moon when they spoke of the moon in poetry.
They used a word, which means whiteness rather than the usual word that means wonderer.
The moon has a special place in poetry because men can gaze on its beauty, but they cannot
gaze at the sun. It will remain a symbol of beauty and romance in spite of space travel and
man's growing technical knowledge of it. The skeptical poet wrote, "
O sing no more of the moon, poets, no more of the moon,
We have measured her round and through the middle,
We have weighed her mass, and spectroscopical evidence
Points to the absence of gas.
None of this will prevent men from continuing to have the experience God intended
them to have, and which Emerson describes when he writes, "The man who has seen the
rising moon break out of the clouds at midnight, has been present like an archangel at the
creation of light and of the world." God made the moon for many purposes, and though
both the Old and New Testaments refer to eternity where the moon will be absent, for Christ
will be the light and center of all things, yet till then the moon will faithfully fulfill these
purposes we have considered. Just briefly now we will look at-
II. THE PERILS OF THE MOON.
The lack of air and water are perils for men who go there, but long before men ever
thought of meeting the moon face to face, the moon presented a serious problem. It was the
peril of idolatry. Worship of the moon is probably the oldest idolatry. It was worship before
the sun in the ancient near East. In those lands where the intense sun scorched the earth
nothing was more pleasant and beautiful than the cool light of the moon at night. Add this
to its connection with water and crops, and you can see why it became an object of worship.
In Israel the moon became a competitor with Jehovah for the loyalty of the people. Job
31:26-27 refers to the kissing of the hand on seeing the moon as an act of adoration. In Jer.
7:18 God in anger refers to the Jewish women making cakes for the Queen of heaven, which
was the moon. In Jer. 44:15-23 there is a debate over burning incense to the Queen of
heaven, and pouring out libations to her. Some argue that this leads to plenty and
prosperity, but Jeremiah says not so, for it leads to the wrath of God. If we had time we
could trace moon worship all around the world, even to the American Indians. The
Egyptians even worshipped the cat because its eyes are like the moon, and they can change
from slim crescents to round balls.
A more modern form of idolatry of the moon is expressed by the poet, who feels he has
found the secret of success in living by the moon. It is really the same old idolatry of getting
a deity who will serve you.
Go plant the bean when the moon is light,
And you will find that this is right;
Plant the potatoes when the moon is dark,
And to this line you always hark;
But if you vary from this rule,
You will find you are a fool;
If you always follow this rule to the end,
You will always have money to spend.
The Jews believed this for a while, and God had to bring them to poverty to get them
away from idolatrous loyalty to the moon. Fred Allen had a more realistic view of the
economic status of the moon. He said the sky is poor tonight, for the moon is down to its last
quarter. God intended the moon to be a benefit to man, and learning to read its signs can
bring economic benefit, but like all good things, the moon too becomes a curse when we seek
the gift and forget the giver. Idolatry is taking a good thing and forgetting to thank the one
who gave it. All of the heavenly bodies are a part of God's handiwork, and they declare His
glory. We read them wrong if our awe and wonder does not go beyond them to their maker.
Psa. 148:3 says, "Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him, all you shining stars!" If we
see this as the greatest purpose of the moon, we will avoid the peril of the moon, which is the
peril of idolatry. Like the astronauts we have only touched down on this subject, and we
have only picked up pebbles of truth, but if we use them right we can glorify Christ by using
the heavens to witness of Him for many moons.