SUN, MOON AND STARS IN SCRIPTURE
In Joel 1:10, describing the Day of Yahweh, it is written: “The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the Sun and the Moon and the Stars shall withdraw their shining” (2:10). The purpose of this study is to look at what is represented by the Sun, Moon and Stars in Scripture, to see what is being spoken of in Joel.
The first occasion in Scripture where the Sun, Moon and Stars come together is in Genesis 27:9, where we read of Joseph’s second dream: “And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me”. Then we read of Jacob’s reaction: “his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream, that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and the mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?”
The interpretation of the dream is clear. The Sun, Moon and Stars represented the different elements which existed within the family of Israel. Israel himself, who “observed the saying” recognized this, perceiving that he was represented by the Sun, his dead wife, Joseph’s mother, the Moon, and Joseph’s brethren by the Stars. These were portrayed as making “obeisance” to Joseph, typifying the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Sun, we are told, was created to “rule the day” (Gen. 1:16, Psa. 136:8). In 2 Samuel 23:3, David as he was being “moved” by the Spirit said: “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” (contrast Joel 2:2).
Ultimately, Yahweh is the Supreme Ruler, who is Just, and so we are told in Psalm 84:11: “Yahweh Elohim is a sun and a shield: Yahweh will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly”. But, the Lord Jesus Christ, the perfect manifestation of Yahweh, is just, and will rule the earth in righteousness during the Millennium. Thus in Revelation 1:16, his “countenance” is described as “the sun” which “shineth in his strength”, and he is spoken of in Malachi 4:2 as being the “sun of righteousness”, who shall arise “with healing in his beams” to those who fear the Name of Yahweh. And so, Jacob, the Father and Husband, the Sun, stood for ruler-ship, “One who ruleth well his own house” (1Tim. 3:4).
In the dream, Jacob’s Wife, Joseph’s mother is symbolized by the Moon, which is said to have been created to “rule the night” (Gen. 1:16) in the absence of the Sun. In the natural order of things, the Moon does this by reflecting the glory, the light of the Sun. This is so with the spiritual. The ecclesia of Christ, the future bride of the Sun of Righteousness, should reflect the glory of God manifested in his son. They are to preach the Gospel, and reflect the glory of the sun during the night, allowing their borrowed light to shine forth, until the morning, when the Sun shall arise.
It is then that the faithful will be “healed”, and be made partakers of divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). Having been given immortality, the bride, which is “fair as the moon” shall be “clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners” (Song. 6:10). Also, “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, in the day that Yahweh bindeth up the breach of His people, and healeth the stroke of their wound” (Isa. 30:26).
The Lord Jesus Christ tells us that “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Mat. 13:43). Notice here there is a plurality of righteous, (indicated by “their father”) but only one sun. Those individuals who have been given “the morning star”, being united with the “star of Jacob” (Num. 24:17) which will then go forth and fight, being “terrible as an army”, as Yahweh Tzvaoth goes forth and avenges His people Israel.
In the natural order of things, the Sun is a star. In Joseph’s dream, Joseph, who typifies the Lord Jesus, sees his brethren as stars. In Daniel 12, we are told that the brethren in Christ who “turn many to righteousness” shall shine “as the stars for ever and ever”. Thus, in the spiritual order of things, the “Sun” being referred to by the Lord Jesus is not one star, but an conglomeration of “stars” who will shine in unity “for ever and ever”.
These symbols, as used in Genesis 37 are applied to Jacob’s family. And when his family had grown into a nation, the “Sun”, “Moon”, and “Stars” remained. Yahweh had promised Abraham that He would “multiply his seed as the stars of the heaven” (Gen 22:17, 26:4). Thus each individual Israelite was a “star”, as Moses told the people (Deut 10:22, 26:4). But yet it is only “Israelites indeed”, “they which are of faith”, the spiritual seed of Abraham who will shine as the stars for ever in the kingdom. Those Israelites who have forsaken the Truth are but “wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 13).
Jeremiah tells us of Jerusalem: “She that hath borne seven languisheth: she hath given up the spirit; her sun has gone down while it is yet day …” (Jer 15:9). Joel also speaks of the elements within the Israelitish Heavens: “The sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (Joel 2:10). Thus, the Rulership, and Religious system were to be darkened under the wrath of Yahweh.
Babylon was destroyed because its king said in his heart “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God … I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High” (Is 14:13-4). But yet Cyrus, of whom Yahweh said “He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure”, was to say to Jerusalem; “thou shalt be built, and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid” (Is 44:28, 2Chron 36:23), and so his rulership was allowed to prosper, as he allowed the Moon and Stars of the Israelitish heavens to shine.
But our Lord Jesus Christ also spoke of a time when “the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken” (Mk. 13:24-25). Thus, not only would the Sun be affected, but also the Moon and Stars of the Israelitish heavens: the religious system which by now had become corrupted, would also suffer under the judgments of Yahweh through the Roman army who were to destroy the temple that “there shall not be lift here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Mat. 24:2). During this time the Jewish political heavens were to “pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” (2 Pet. 3:10), as the Mosaic system of worship was ended, being replaced by what it typified – the New Covenant through Christ Jesus.
It is not only the Israelitish heavens which are said to contain a Sun, Moon, and Stars. Empires which had dominion over Israel are also said to possess them. Speaking of Yahweh’s overthrow of Babylon, Isaiah wrote: “For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine” (Isa. 13:10). Hence, the Babylonian political heavens were to suffer under the judgments of Yahweh. Babylon was ruling over Israel, and attempted to suppress the worship of Yahweh, forcing the Jews to worship Idols (Dan. 3:6), thus exalting itself over the stars of God.
The Roman heavens are also portrayed as having a Sun, Moon and Stars: “and there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev. 12:1). This power, we are told, “waxed great against the host of the (Israelitish) heaven and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them … by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down” (Dan. 8:10-11). Thus the Mosaic system of worship in Israel was abolished. The Israelitish heavens were replaced by the roman heavens, and a false system of worship was established, based upon the Babylonian superstitions of old.
In Joel 3:15, we are told that at the time of the end, the Jewish heavens will again suffer: “The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining”. What we are currently witnessing in Israel is the revival of the political heavens. Once again they have a Sun, Moon and Stars, a system of rulership and religion, but yet they are in disobedience to Yahweh. They do not accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah, and trust in their own military might, rather that the power of God. And so Yahweh will once again punish Israel, by “bringing forth” the Gogian army against them, taking half the city captive (Zech. 14:2).
But yet Joel tells us that “Yahweh will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel”. Israel, through the work of Elijah (Mal 4:5), will come to repentance, and look upon the Lord Jesus, whom they pierced, and mourn (Zech. 12:10). They will recognize Jesus as the Messiah, and turn to Yahweh, who shall “go forth and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle”, and restore the Kingdom to Israel: “Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for Yahweh shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended” (Is 60:20). Then, the Sun, Moon and Stars of all Israel, including the family circle of Genesis 37 will worship the Greater Joseph, as the World is brought under subjection under his feet.