Shemesh: Shining like the Sun

Sun: shemesh (masculine noun) (Strong’s 8121 & 8122)

Root: שֶׁמֶשׁ

Sounds like: shuh-mesh

November is usually a month with many grey, overcast, days, so when the sun does come out it feels all that more warm and glorious. One hundred years ago, to the day, the signing of the Armistice Agreement put an end to WWI. Regardless of the weather, it was a warm and glorious day! Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae died in January 1918, never seeing the end of the war. His poem, In Flanders Fields, sums up the devastation and chaos of war. The sun plays a pivotal part in the poem:

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

       In Flanders fields.

sunset-815270_1920

Feeling dawn and seeing sunset is part of life. It brings joy and a secure sense of continuity and order.

YHWH created the sun for a specific purpose… order. And this order allows life to flourish. Without sun, life would wither and die. It cannot prosper in darkness.

Genesis 1:3-5

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And seeing that the light was good, God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day…

On day four God harnessed the light into two main items:

Genesis 1:14-19

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

Notice that God creates the two great lights to serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and to govern, separate and give light on the earth.

The Psalmist saw the creation of these orbs and reflected:

Psalm 74:16-17

The day is Yours, and also the night;

You established the moon and the sun [wah-shemesh].

You set all the boundaries of the earth;

You made the summer and winter.

Yeshua, however, focused on the sun, moon and stars as signs:

Luke 21:25-28

“There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among the nations, bewildered by the roaring of the sea and the surging of the waves. Men will faint from fear and anxiety over what is coming upon the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to happen, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Order is what the sun was created for… we live, we breathe; the sun rises, the sun sets. But death is chaos, it loses the order of day and night, inhaling and exhaling. Yeshua/Jesus, from the line of David, came to earth to put a stop to the finality of death and chaos. The sun, moon, stars– pinnacles of order and consistency- will someday act out of order and it will a sign to everyone that things are radically different.

In the scriptures the sun, itself, acts as a faithful witness to all of YHWH’s promises, including the promise of a Messiah from the line of David:

Psalm 89:35-37

Once and for all I have sworn by My holiness—

I will not lie to David— his offspring will endure forever,

and his throne will be like the sun [ka-shemesh] before Me,

like the moon, established forever, a faithful witness in the sky.

The final recorded words of King David paint a beautiful word picture:

2 Samuel 23:1-5 

These are the last words of David:

“The oracle of David son of Jesse, the oracle of the man raised on high,

the one anointed by the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel:

The Spirit of YHWH spoke through me; His word was on my tongue.

The God of Israel spoke; the Rock of Israel said to me,

‘He who rules the people with justice, who rules in the fear of God,

is like the light of the morning when the sun [shamesh] rises in a cloudless dawn,

the glistening after the rain on the sprouting grass of the earth.’

Is not my house right with God? For He has established with me

an everlasting covenant, ordered and secured in every part.

Will He not bring about my full salvation and my every desire?

How beautiful are these final words of David?! He has ultimate faith in YHWH, knowing that God would fulfill His promises far beyond the lifetime of David. This ordered and secured, everlasting covenant-promise of a Messiah, from the line of David, is central to the whole story of the Judeo-Christian faith.

In Jeremiah 31 YHWH makes another covenant promise. He will write His law on the minds and hearts of humans, and He will also promises to forgive and remember the sins of humans no more. Through the sacrifice of the Messiah, giving up this ordered life and turning himself over to the chaos of death, our iniquity is dissolved. YHWH ends this promise with these words:

Jeremiah 31:33-36

Thus says YHWH, who gives sun [shemesh] for light by day and orders moon and stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—YHWH of Hosts is His name:

“Only if this fixed order departed from My presence, declares YHWH,

would Israel’s descendants ever cease to be a nation before Me.”

Essentially YHWH is saying He will never abandon His promises because it is not possible for the sun, moon and stars to depart from Him. In fact, they worship Him!

Psalm 148:1-6

Hallelujah!

Praise YHWH from the heavens; praise Him in the highest places.

Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His heavenly hosts.

Praise Him, O sun and moon; praise Him, all you shining stars.

Praise Him, O highest heavens, and you waters above the skies.

Let them praise the name of YHWH,  for He gave the command and they were created.

He established them forever and ever; He issued a decree that will never pass away.

The prophet Isaiah lived in a time surrounded by war and violence. The Assyrians were a persistent menace, not to mention countless other enemies of Israel constantly threatening devastation. War is chaos, but God created earth to be orderly. Sun and moon, day and night is order at its greatest. It absolutely, without fail, continues in perfect symmetry.

But Isaiah spoke of a time when God would shatter it all and become the only Sun that we need. The imagery of losing sun and moon was a reminder that day and night is God’s chosen order and without it only death is available to this planet. But Isaiah emphasized hope; hope for an everlasting light that only YHWH provides.

Isaiah 60:18-20

No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders,

but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.

The sun [ha-shemesh] will no more be your light by day,

nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,

for YHWH will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.

Your sun [sheem’shek] will never set again, and your moon will wane no more;

YHWH will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.

The prophet Micah, a contemporary to Isaiah, who also lived under the threat of Assyria, saw light and salvation as the means of victory over darkness and death:

Micah 7:7-9

But as for me, I will look to YHWH;

I will wait for the God of my Salvation. My God will hear me.

Do not gloat over me, my enemy!

       Though I have fallen, I will rise;

       though I sit in darkness, YHWH will be my light.

Because I have sinned against Him, I must endure the rage of YHWH,

until He argues my case and executes justice for me.

He will bring me into the light; I will see His righteousness.

The Messiah, Yeshua, is our salvation and the hope for everlasting light. Micah expressed that although we have fallen, with YHWH we will rise… just as Yeshua rose out of the darkness of death, to bring light to all the people.

John 8:12

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Malachi, who prophesied 300 years after Isaiah and Micah, provided an image of the Messiah as the sun:

Malachi 4:2

YHWH: “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness [shemesh tzedakah] will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and leap like calves from the stall…”

This image, a sun of righteousness that will rise with true healing, gives great joy. This is the Messiah, the Anointed One who will bring true healing and peace. When Yeshua experienced the transfiguration on the mountain top it should come to no surprise to us that his face shone like the sun [Matthew 17:2]. It is not the first time God is compared to the sun:

Psalm 84:11-12

For YHWH God is a sun [shemesh] and a shield;

YHWH gives grace and glory;

He withholds no good thing from those who walk with integrity.

O YHWH of Hosts, how blessed is the human who trusts in You!

If we are to be the reflection of God on earth, then we also need to shine like the sun! The great woman judge, Deborah, lived in a time of war and chaos. Israel lived under the tyranny of the Canaanites and Deborah called for action against these enemies (Judges 4 & 5). They went to war and defeated their oppressors. The victory song of Deborah and Barak (leader of the army of Israel) ends with these words:

Judges 5:31a

So may all your enemies perish, O YHWH,

But may those who love You shine like the sun [ha-shemesh] at its brightest.

Be sunshine, and let your life radiate the love for you have for YHWH, our God and our Great Creator. God knows this war-torn world needs the warmth and compassion of His everlasting light!

Next week: shadow

6 thoughts on “Shemesh: Shining like the Sun”

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