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As in verse third, so here, the work begins with a summons or command. There is no reference to creating in the highest sense of that word. And at verse sixteenth the terms again used are," and God made”-appointed, arranged, set apart for a special purpose. That purpose we are told here, being in the first place to be “for signs, and for seasons, for days and for years.” The word “made" is used between one and two hundred times in the book of Genesis alone, and never in the sense of creating or making out of nothing. Illustrations of this use of the word have already been given. It has, no doubt, been alleged that this view of the force of the expression, “God made," does not even fit into the space assigned to the work in the narrative. Had it been simply a matter of adjustment, a setting apart to a special end, would we have had six verses devoted to it in this brief narrative ? But if we turn to Genesis ix. 8–17, it will be seen, that in the case of the covenant of God concerning the future history of the earth after the deluge, more space is taken up with the setting apart of the rainbow, as a permanent sign of that covenant, than is done here with the appointment of the great lights. From what we know of the physical history of the earth in pre-adamic epochs, it may be absolutely asserted that there must have been rainbows before that glorious arch spanned the heavens, when the waters abate l from off the face of the earth. The Preserver of all things simply took it for the first time as a sign of his grace, that not only Noah's household, but all who should come to the true knowledge of God in after times might, when they saw the bright bow lying athwart the dark cloud, remember the righteousness of God revealed against sin, and might think of his grace in saving a remnant from the world before the flood.
The peculiar phraseology of verse 17, “ And God set them in the firmament,” seems to imply that the relations of the orbs of heaven to each other, and especially that their relation to the earth, required to be changed in order to their adjustment to the human period. That in this language there is reference to man cannot be doubted. If they were to be for signs, they could only be so to a rational and intelligent creature. Nor are we left in doubt as to what is meant in their being for signs. They are very often referred to in Holy Writ as signs of God's sovereignty, faithfulness, goodness, and greatness :
“God shaketh the earth out of her place,
And the pillars thereof tremble.
He alone spreadeth out the heavens,
“ He appointed the moon for seasons:
The sun knoweth his going down.
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
And the firmament sheweth his handy-work.
“He telleth the number of the stars;
He calleth them all by their names.
“ O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is thy name in all the earth!
Many more illustrations will occur to the reader. The last passage quoted is deeply interesting, as associating the “signs” of the greatness and goodness of God in creation with the manifestations of his grace and love in the redemption of the world, and the first Adam with the second Adam, even the “Lord from heaven.” This is distinctly referred to in Hebrews ii., where the glory and yet the lowliness of the Eternal Son are spoken of, and this passage is quoted to set him before us as “ Jesus,” who in bringing “many sons to glory," " by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” The “signs” come thus to point to the “unsearchable riches of grace," as well as to the “manifold wisdom of God.” Frequent illustrations of this will occur. Creation and redemption rest on each other, as do the two sides of the arch; the keystone is the Lord Jesus Christ.
It seems most likely then that, in the work of the fourth day, the Creator in adapting the celestial orbs, proceeded on the plan of making them of highest benefit to man, and that in carrying out this adjustment, demands were made for striking modifications in the present period, as compared with by-gone geological periods. This consideration has not been sufficiently kept in mind. It has been taken for granted, that peculiarities in the distribution of land and water, are enough to account for a fauna and flora in areas wholly unlike those found in them at present. But granting that the distribution of land and water exercises a great influence on the temperature, and even that the recent theories of M. Dové, and some other well known meteorologists, as to the influence of the proportion of either in modifying the annual temperature of certain localities, were wholly satisfactory, they would not be equal to accounting for the very great difference, say, between the present flora of Britain, and that which obtained in the same area when the coal measures were laid down. It can, however, be seen at once that those modifications on the heavenly bodies, here hinted at, in order that they might be of highest use to the plants and animals of the human period, would be sufficient to account for this difference. "Ignorant as we are,” says Sir John Herschel,“ of the cause of both solar and stellar light, and of the conditions which may influence its amount at different times, the law of periodicity is one which ought not to be too hastily generalized; and, at all events, the grand phenomena of geology afford, as it appears to me, the highest presumptive evidence of changes in the climate of our globe. I cannot otherwise understand alternations of heat and cold, so extensive as at one epoch to have clothed the high northern latitudes with more than tropical luxuriancy of vegetation; at another to have buried vast tracts of Europe, now enjoying a genial climate, and smiling with fertility, under a glacier crust of enormous thickness. Such changes seem to point to causes more powerful than the mere local distribution of land and water can be well supposed to have been. In the slow secular variations of our supply of light and heat from the sun, which in the immensity of time past may have gone to any extent, and succeeded each other in any order, without the violating of sidereal order, which we know to have taken place, we have a cause, not indeed established
as a fact, but already admissible as something beyond a bare possibility, fully adequate to all the requirements of geology. A change in half a magnitude in the lustre of the sun regarded as a fixed star, spread over successive geological epochs—now progressing, now receding, now stationary, according to the evidence of warmer or colder general temperature which geological researches have disclosed, or may hereafter reveal, is what no astronomer would now hesitate to admit, as in itself a perfectly reasonable and not improbable supposition.” But is not the influence now referred to implied in the words of scripture? The heavenly bodies were adjusted to the human period, in order to serve for “seasons” as well as for “signs”_seasons suited for the new form of life ushered into being during the work of the six days. The influence of the solar rays on the atmosphere, the seas, and the dry land of our globe, supplies abundant material for generalizations on the points now noticed, but it would lead me away from the present purpose to do more than name them. The same remark may be made with reference to the information furnished by modern astronomy regarding the orbs specially named in the work of the fourth day. To give even a bald summary of this, would lead us too far from our special object. Opportunities will, however, frequently occur for using astronomical science in illustration of the words of scripture. Meanwhile the reader is referred to the plates illustrative of Job ix. 9, for proofs of what has been done by modern astronomers, in mapping out “the starry heavens, and in naming the “signs” into which they have divided the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The lights were not only to be for signs and seasons, but for days and years also. The sun and the moon are specially mentioned in this connection. So that, without going into the astronomical history of these bodies, it may be useful to the reader to be reminded of a few general facts regarding them. We have seen how frequently the scriptures describe the sensations of thoughtful men of God, when they " considered the heavens ”—the sun, the moon, and the countless stars. Their knowledge of them was far inferior to ours. They wondered when they, like Isaac, went out at eventide to meditate, and looked up to the starry sky. Yet their wonder ever conducted to true adoration and praise. And our clearer views of the heavenly bodies should lead to the same results. If wonder is born of ignorance, there are mysteries in abundance connected with the starry hosts, to set us alongside of the earliest inhabitants of the world in this respect, while our increase of knowledge should lead to deeper awe even than they had, when they gazed on the
evidences of the manifold wisdom of God. “God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day.” The greater light, the sun, stands first in modern science as it does in the inspired Word. Having its fixed place as the centre of a mighty system, it is 95,000,000 of miles distant from the earth. Its diameter is 882,000 miles. It has a revolution on its own axis every twenty-five days ten hours. The references in scripture to the hosts of heaven, deal mostly with their apparent movements, just as in popular language even the most accomplished astronomers speak of the rising and setting of the sun :
“In them hath he set a pavilion for the sun,
The motions of the earth supply the true explanation of these phenomena. Its daily motion on its own axis takes place once in twentyfour hours. Thus day and night. Its yearly motion, in its course in the heavens round the sun, is performed in three hundred and sixty-five days, six hours. Thus the changes of season—"seed-time and harvest, summer and winter.” Job realized the position of the earth in space when he said :
“ He stretcheth out the north over the empty place,
And hangeth the earth upon nothing."—(Job xxvi. 7.)
“God made the lesser light to rule the night”-the "fair moon," is about 240,000 miles distant from the earth, and has a diameter of nearly 2,000. Its motion has been referred to above. The moon's ministry of blessing will be considered under Deut. xxxiii. 14. The fourth day's work was finished. God saw that it was good. The morning about to dawn was to witness yet greater marvels of creative power.
“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day,” ver. 20–23. Some