30. Sun, Moon and Stars
We have come very near to our present subject in studying heat and light. (Chapters 3 and 4) Both heat and light are from the sun. Its enormous mass is clothed with flames which give forth heat to its family of earths, and the intense heat gives rise to dazzling light. The moon has nothing of its own to give, but reflects to us from the sun a cool white light, with very little warmth. The stars give us light, but very little. Even the brightest of the fixed stars to the most powerful telescope shows no disc at all, only a beam of light, just enough to reveal the fact that a sun is there. The fixed stars are distant suns; the planets, like little moons, reflect our sun's light.
Remind me what spiritual warmth and light are. The heart grows warm with kind affection, and the mind is enlightened by intelligence. We do not originate these blessings, but the Lord gives them to us, sharing with us something of His love and wisdom. When our hearts are open to receive pure affection from the Lord, and our minds enjoy the clear perception which pure affection brings, we are in heavenly sunshine. The celestial angels are open to the purest affections from the Lord, and enjoy the wisdom which these affections bring; and as all outward things in heaven appear in correspondence with the inward state of the inhabitants. the Lord appears to the celestial angels as a glowing sun. (HH 118; AC 1529, 1531)
And what state of mind is like moonlight? A state less open to affection from the Lord and therefore without perception. In this state the light of truth is received in a cool, intellectual way, but. intelligently, from those who have perception of it. This is the character of the spiritual angels, and to them the Lord appears as a moon. (HH 118; AE 401)
Starlight pictures the state of mind in the least degree of spiritual light. It is able to receive little of the Lord's love or wisdom, but is cheered and guided by knowledge about these things, which is learned and remembered with little intelligence. This is the character of angels in the natural heaven, and of many persons in the world of spirits, who are guided by societies of heaven in greater love and light. We are taught that to those beneath heaven, the societies of angels often appear as stars in the sky. (TCR 160; AR 65; AC 5377, 7988) To sum up these thoughts: the sun is an expression of the Lord's love imparting to angels and men good affections with the clear perception which good affections bring. (AR 53; AE 401; DLW 98; AC 5704) The moon is a symbol of intelligence received by instruction, in minds which have little of love's perception. (AR 413, 414; AE 401; AC 4696) The stars correspond to knowledges of goodness and truth. (AR 51; AE 72, 401; AC 1808, 4697)
Can we understand now why the Lord is called "a sun and shield " (Ps. lxxxiv. 11)? and why it is said, "Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings"? (Mal. iv. 2) What Divine quality is made prominent when the Lord is called a sun? His Divine love. (AE 401, 279, 283) "The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain." (2 Sam. xxiii. 3, 4) The reference is plainly to the Lord and His coming; to the clear perception of His loving presence when His truth, though only obscurely understood, has been received and applied to life. (AE 401, 422, 644) Will not this thought give new beauty to the morning sunshine glistening in the raindrops on the grass?
In other places we read that the Lord appeared as the sun. When transfigured before the disciples, "His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light." (Matt. xvii. 2) To John in the Revelation, "His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." (Rev. i. 16, x. 1) What Divine quality is revealed by this shining as the sun? The Divine love. (AC 32, 3195; AE 74, 596, 401; AR 53, 467)
In the story of creation it is said: "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. i. 16) We think of the stage in the creation of the earth, when for the first time the heavy vapors parted and revealed the sky with the sun and moon and stars. This pictures the gift to men, of the ability to perceive the Lord's love, and to receive intelligence from Him, and knowledge of goodness and truth. (AC 32, 3235; AR 414; AE 527) The Lord is spoken of in the Psalm as He "that made great lights: . . . the sun to rule by day: . . . the moon and the stars to rule by night." (Ps. cxxxvi. 7-9; Jer. xxxi. 35) There are brighter states when we feel the Lord's goodness, and love what is good, and there are darker times when we must be ruled by our understanding and knowledge of what is true and good. These are the moon and stars given to rule the night. (AC 37, 4697; AE 275, 401, 527) Remember that it was a star which led the wise men to the Lord. (Matt. ii. 1-10) What star have we to lead us to Him? Our knowledge of what is good and true. The wise men of the East preserved much ancient knowledge, especially the knowledge that the Lord should come. It was this in particular which the star represented. (AE 422; SS 23; TCR 205) What Divine quality is revealed by these words describing the appearance of the Lord to John: "And he had in his right hand seven stars"? (Rev. i. 16) They mean that He possesses all knowledges of goodness and truth,. which He gives to His church, and especially to the angels of heaven who are associated with His church on earth. "The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches." (AR 51, 65; AE 72, 90)
We see now more plainly than before why the Lord's leading forth the army of the stars in their wonderful order was a token to the wise ancients of His infinite wisdom. "He is wise in heart and mighty in strength; . . . which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars. . . . Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south." (Job ix. 4, 7, 9, xxxviii. 7; AC 9643; AE 502) "He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite." (Ps. cxlvii. 4, 5) "Here, by telling the number of the stars, and calling them all by their names, is signified to know all goods and truths, and, according to their quality, to dispose them in heaven and the church." (AE 453, 72; AC 10217; PP) So also in Isaiah: "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by their names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, my way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? halt thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding." (Isa. xl. 26-28) It tells of the Lord's care for all things of love and intelligence and of all knowledges of good and truth; of His calling them out and disposing them in order in heaven and in a regenerating life. (AE 453, 148; AC 10217) In prophecy of the Lord's kingdom we read: "The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days." (Isa. xxx. 26) Is it not a promise of advance from the obscure and intellectual reception of the Lord to a full and loving reception? And to those who already know His love the sense of it will be made full and perfect. (AE 401; TCR 641; AR 53; also DLW 233; HH 159)
In the Revelation the church is described as "a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars." (Rev. xii. i) What qualities of the church are represented by the sun, moon, and stars? Its love from the Lord, its intelligence, and its knowledges of goodness and truth. (AR 533, 534; AE 707-709) Remember the Lord's words in explaining the parable of the tares: "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." (Matt. xiii. 43) The love which pervades the angels' life is so described; and it does actually make their faces shine. (AE 401; HH 348; AC 9263) In Daniel we read "They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." (Dan. xii. 3) The first phrase applies to those who are in the clear light of intelligence; the second to those who shine with love, but in a remote and humble way, since they are likened to stars. (HH 346-348; AR 51; AE 72; AC 9263) "His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established forever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven." (Ps. lxxxix. 36, 37) "They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations." (Ps. lxxii. 5) The words seem to speak of David's kingdom, but they are true only of the Lord's kingdom, which David's represented. Do the verses mean something more than that the Lord's kingdom is for ever? Do they not say that wherever there are kind affection and intelligence, there is His kingdom, and there He is feared? (AR 53; AE 401, 594; AC 337)
"Praise ye the LORD. . . . Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him all ye stars of light." (Ps. cxlviii. 1, 3) Is it not an appeal to everything of good affection and of intelligence and of knowledge of heavenly things, to worship and serve the Lord? (AE 401, 573; AC 7988)
Can we now see the meaning of our Lord's prophecy concerning the days of His second coming, "The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken"? (Matt. xxiv. 29; see also Joel ii. 10, iii. 15, and Rev. vi. 12, 13) All such verses describe a state of men's minds; a state where there is no longer any love for the Lord nor sense of His love; there is no spiritual intelligence; and even knowledges of goodness and truth are lost. (AE 401-403; AR 332-334, 27; HH 1, 119; TCR 198; SS 14; AC 1808, 2441, 2495)
In the ancient days when men saw in the sun an emblem of the Lord's love, and in the moon an emblem of intelligence from Him, and in the stars emblems of knowledges of goodness and truth, they turned towards them in their worship, thinking. of the Lord whom they represented. But when they no longer sensibly received love and enlightenment from the Lord, worship of the sun, moon, and stars became an expression of their supreme self-love and esteem of their own intelligence and knowledge. Such worship was therefore most strictly forbidden and severely condemned. "If there be found among you . . . man or woman that . . . hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded, . . . thou shalt stone them with stones, till they die." (Deut. xvii. 2-5; 2 Kings xxiii. 4, 5; AC 2441; AE 401; AR 53; HH 122)
Does the sun have a good or a bad meaning in the parable of the sower, where we read, "Some fell upon stony places . . . and when the sun was up, they were scorched "? (Matt. xiii. 5, 6) Plainly it is the love of self and its excitements which scorch the Lord's Word beginning to grow in the mind. (AE 401) And what is the meaning of the familiar words: "The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul "? (Ps. cxxi. 6, 7) Are they not a promise of the Lord's protection from the excitements of selfish love and from our own intelligence which leads astray? (AE 298, 401) We read of the Lord's kingdom, that is, of the state when self-love and self-intelligence are put aside, and the Lord's good love and true intelligence are accepted in their stead: "The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light." (Isa. IX. 19, 20; AE 401; AR 919; AC 3195, 3693) "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." (Rev. xxi. 23; AR 919; AE 1328, 401)