When Christians Gaze at the Moon
Last Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the first human steps on the moon. As a graduate of Neil Armstrong’s Purdue University, I’ve long been fascinated by the story of lunar exploration. I love a good museum exhibit on the space program. My wife has learned that such visits are often accompanied by my repeating the few moon stories I’ve learned quite well.
It’s an astounding thing to gaze into the sky on a clear night and ponder that man indeed has taken that giant leap onto the lunar surface.
It seems that the writers of Scripture also gazed at the moon. And though perhaps they could not have imagined mankind’s step onto the moon, the writers offer much insight into what Christians may ponder as they gaze at the moon.
So, the next time you look up at that beautiful white surface in the sky, what thoughts can fill your mind?
Worship the God of Creation
In Genesis 1, the “light to rule the night” is part of the creation of the 4th day (Gen. 1:14-19). There, we learn that moon is to give light to the night and guide our understanding of time (see Psalm 104:19). Certainly, the Apollo 8 reading of Genesis 1 offered a fitting reflection on the moon and the God of creation:
For us, this creation is a matter for worship! In Psalm 136, we learn to give thanks to the Lord who made “the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever” (v9).
Ponder Your Frailty
Psalm 8, words quoted by Buzz Aldrin as the Apollo 11 astronauts returned from the moon, says this: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you should care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)
It’s an argument from the greater to the lesser: if God created things as beautiful and as grand as the moon and the stars, why would he care for someone so frail as me? And yet, He does care. His eye is on us, frail as we are, even as our eye is on the moon, beautiful as it is.
Ponder God’s Continuing Faithfulness
Have you ever considered seeing the moon as an argument for God’s faithfulness? In Jeremiah 31, the LORD takes us directly there. He speaks the “fixed order of the moon” (v35). Then, He promises this: “If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever" (v36).
What’s the idea? The pattern of the moon in the sky won’t depart, so His love for His people won’t either! “Like the moon, [God’s covenant] shall be established forever” (Psalm 89:37).
So look at the moon tonight and say: “Another day of God keeping His covenant.”
Tremble at the Coming Judgment God Will Bring
For many, gazing at the moon on a clear night grants a sense of peace. The Apollo 11 astronauts themselves landed, not on a sea of judgment, but on the Sea of Tranquility.
But Scripture speaks of a day where the moon won’t give a message of tranquility. Instead, it will be darkened in the day of fearful judgment (see Eccles. 12:2, Isa. 13:10, 24:23, Ezek. 32:7, Joel 2:10, 2:31, 3:15, Matt. 24:29, Mark 13:24, Luke 21:25).
Now, of course, many have foolishly thought that such passages could be combined with certain astronomical phenomena (red moons and the like) to predict the Second Coming. But Jesus never intended these promises about the darkened moon to give such insight (see Matt. 24:36).
But indeed, a coming day of the thick darkness of judgment is coming. It came for Christ at the cross (Lk. 23:44), and the darkness will come for the enemies of Christ on that great day.
Our gazes at the moon should remind us of the judgment to come. Do I know the Christ who endured the darkness for me? If the day of the darkened moon came tonight, will I be ready?
Anticipate the Glory of the Coming New Creation
Isaiah spoke of a day where the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, a day in which the brokenness of the LORD’s people will be restored (Isa. 30:26). The fullness of that experience comes when we experience the promise: “The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory” (Isa. 60:19).
As we approach the end of Revelation, we hear these words: “The city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23).
A day will come of a giant leap for mankind from the experience of the cursed creation to the new creation. And on that day our eyes will no longer gaze at the glory of the moon but will be fixated at the glory of the light of Jesus Christ our Lamb.
So, tonight, step outside, gaze at the moon, and ponder your God and the glory to come.