I knew there was a reason I chose to picture a sunset on my main page - more than just the fact that my wife and I love to see the sunsets in all their splendor. There's something special about standing on the pier that juts out into the great lake and watching breathlessly as the sun paints its splendor on the horizon. It's not unusual that, as the last chip pf the great red ball fades below the horizon, the crowd gathered bursts into applause; on occasion someone even manages a "Yes, God!" But I knew there was a greater reason than that. This morning - Sunday - as I drove to church to prepare for the service,m the eastern sky was aglow with the first burst of the rising sun. That's when it hit me. God has messages attached to his sun.
Consider the rising sun - in the Bible it's the symbol of a new day - everything and everyone awakens with a totally fresh start. Even the lamenting prophet understood it: "...my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him" (Lamentations 3:20-24). Similarly, the setting sun signifies the end of day - the opportunity to make things right before resting for the night: "In you anger do not sin. So not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold" (Ephesians 4:26-27). And there is yet a third symbol, from Revelation 22:5 - "There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever." This represents the time when our hope is fulfilled. As the hymn-writer penned it:
"Beyond the sunset, O blissful morning, when with our savior heaven is begun;
Earth's toiling ended, O glorious dawning - beyond the sunset when day is done.
Beyond the sunset no clouds will gather, no storms will threaten, no fears annoy;
O day of gladness, O day unending - beyond the sunset, eternal joy!
Beyond the sunset a hand will guide me to God the Father, whom I adore;
His glorious presence, His words of welcome, will be my portion on that fair shore.
Beyond the sunset, O glad reunion with our dear loved ones who've gone before;
In that fair homeland we'll know no parting - beyond the sunset forevermore!"
So every sunrise and sunset reminds me of new opportunities to experience the peace and rest of God, which only prepares me for the eternal rest and peace to come. And what should I do each day until THAT day? Let one more biblical sun image provide the answer: "Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised (Psalm 113:2-3)."There's the reason for the picture! God wants to remind me - and you - of our agenda for the day! Praise the Lord!