Creation Factsheet No. 48: The Two Great Lights
Factsheet No. 48
THE TWO GREAT LIGHTS
THE book of Genesis records the creation of 'two great lights', the sun and the moon (Genesis 1:14-16). Of course, these two heavenly bodies are not the largest in the heavens, but from our perspective they appear to be the largest, and they certainly dominate our skies. 'The greater light' our sun is a star. As stars go it is quite small, although just right for us. 'The lesser light' the moon is a solid body, the earth's only natural satellite.
SIZE AND DISTANCE CRUCIAL
Both the sun and moon have a great effect upon our planet, and without either one of them, life as we know it could not exist. The sun with a diameter of 664,000 miles, provides us with light and warmth. At an average distance of 93 million miles from the sun, the earth is free from the great extremes of temperature endured by the other planets.1 This allows the existence of that unique and vital resource large oceans of liquid water. The moon exercises an important influence on the oceans, for without the moon there would be no twice-daily tides. Many shallow-water marine organisms simply could not exist without the regular rise and fall of the tides, and the waters in the sea and river estuaries would become stagnant and lifeless without the tidal movements which aerate the water. The moon is 2,160 miles in diameter and an average distance of about 239,000 miles from us. The moon's size and distance are crucial, too. If the moon were smaller or further away, its tidal pull would be too weak. On the other hand, if it were larger or nearer, huge tides would sweep over the continents twice daily, making large areas of the earth uninhabitable.
The path of totality is quite small as the moon's shadow crosses the earth. Areas either side experience a partial eclipse.
Through an amazing combination of circumstances, despite their great difference in size the sun and moon appear to be exactly the same size when viewed from the earth. Although the sun is 400 times larger than the moon, it also happens to be 400 times further away from us! This makes possible the amazing spectacle of a total solar eclipse, when the moon's disc exactly covers the sun, allowing us to observe the sun's corona.
During a solar eclipse, the moon's disc exactly covers the sun, revealing the beautiful solar corona.
Is this just an incredible coincidence? Or is it part of our Creator's plan and design that the size and position of 'the two great lights' makes this spectacular display possible?
We can predict eclipses centuries in advance such is the amazing precision with which the heavenly bodies move, which again is evidence for creation, rather than an accidental origin. After the 1999 total eclipse, we can predict that it will be 2090 before the next one is visible from Britain! Eclipses of the moon happen much more frequently, and occur when the earth's shadow falls on the moon. Unlike solar eclipses, when only a small area of the earth is affected, a lunar eclipse is visible over an entire hemisphere.
At the time of Christ's crucifixion the Bible records that there was darkness over the whole earth for three hours. Luke records: 'The sun stopped shining' (Luke 23:45). This was certainly not a solar eclipse, since these last only a few minutes and can happen only at a new moon. The crucifixion was at the time of the Jewish Passover which always took place at the full moon. The period of darkness was observed in other parts of the world, and is recorded in other ancient records. Bible commentator J. H. Gill wrote: 'It was over all the land, or earth, as the word may be rendered; and the Ethiopic version renders it, 'the whole world was dark '; at least it reached to the whole Roman empire, or the greatest part of it; though some think only the land of Judea, or Palestine, is intended: but it is evident, that it is taken notice of, and recorded by Heathen historians and chronologers, as by Phlegon, and others, referred to by Eusebius, The Roman archives are appealed unto for the truth of it by Tertullian; and it is asserted by Suidas, that Dionysius the Areopagate, then an Heathen, saw it in Egypt; and said, 'either the divine being suffers, or suffers with him that suffers, or the frame of the world is dissolving'.'2 The darkness at the crucifixion was undoubtedly a miracle, symbolising the horror of human sin borne by Jesus, temporarily separating Him from God, His Father.
The 'diamond ring' effect as the sun re-emerges from behind the moon.
OTHER SOLAR MIRACLES
The Bible records two other solar miracles. In Joshua 10:12-14 we read that 'the sun stopped in the middle of the sky', and in Isaiah 38:7-8 we are told that God caused the sun's shadow to go backwards as a sign to king Hezekiah. These stories have long been ridiculed by sceptics and liberal scholars, but, as with the darkness of the crucifixion, there is extra-Biblical evidence. The Chinese recorded a delay in the sun's movement in the reign of the 7th emperor Yao3 which correlates with the time of Joshua, and according to the Jewish historian Josephus it was recorded in the temple records.4 Immanuel Velikovsky referred to Mexican records of a cosmic catastrophe during which the sun stood still.5 The Babylonians, who were great astrologers, took note of the reversal of the sun's shadow during Hezekiah's reign, and sent envoys to Hezekiah 'to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land.' (2 Chronicles 32:31)
CREATED AS 'SIGNS'
We have no space to consider the physical explanations which have been put forward to account for these phenomena, but those who believe God designed and placed the heavenly bodies so precisely in their positions have no difficulty in believing that He can also control their movements and effects as and when He wishes, remembering that one of the reasons for the creation of the two great lights was to 'serve as signs' ( Genesis 1:14).
- See Our Unique Planet, CRT Factsheet No. 20.
- John Gill's Expositor, (1809)
- Martin, Sinie Histor, 11 p. 25.
- Antiquities, 1. 5c. I, Sect. 17.
- Worlds in Collision, (Macmillan, 1950) pp. 45-46.
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