Thus said the LORD, which gives the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night…
(with John 16:32): — "Two things," said Kant, "fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe the oftener and the more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above, and the moral law within." Certainly there are few sights more impressive than the starry heavens. But the stars, in addition to the influence they produce upon the mind of the beholder by their number and magnitude and beauty, serve a practical and a useful purpose in the system to which they belong. They help to guide the mariner to steer his course, and the traveller to discern his way. The darkness is never overwhelming so long as the stars are visible. The sailor who has come within sight of the lights which skirt the coast knows that he is not far from hospitable shores. So the stars convey to us the intimation and the assurance that we are not far from home. Between the dark side of nature and the dark side of human life is there not a striking analogy? Are not our lives a succession of days and nights? Do we not spend our existence partly in the sunshine and partly in the gloom? That He who has done so much for the dark side of nature, kindling those "soft fires" which enlighten the prevalent gloom and shed their benign influences upon the world beneath, should have done nothing to brighten the dark side of human life so as to preclude despair is a suggestion against which all our spiritual instincts rise in quick and emphatic revolt. But our Creator has not, we repeat, left us in unrelieved darkness. So the dark side of human life is never utterly dark, for there are stars shining somewhere in the darkness. It was into the deepening gloom that Christ passed as He drew nearer Calvary. And yet, midnight as it then was with Jesus, there were stars shining overhead. What were the sources of illumination and strength of which Christ availed Himself?
1. The power of communion with God "I am alone, and yet not alone, for the Father is with Me." The Father was with the Son in approval of His work and in an identity of purpose. A consciousness of a deep underlying agreement with the Supreme will was a source of never-failing strength to Christ in the sacred task which He had undertaken. And never was Christ more conscious of the Father's smile than when the world was most emphatically hostile. And so, no matter how dark it is if only we can maintain our communion with God — if only we have continued to us the Divine fellowship. Should the world forsake us, we shall be able to stand alone if the Father is with us.
2. The power of persevering prayer was another source of light and strength to Christ. The stars are always visible from the high vantage-ground of prayer. The heavens are never wholly dark to him who can repeat the hallowed name. And this was partly the secret of the strength which animated Christ as He passed through the thick darkness, that "He ofttimes resorted thither." He had accustomed Himself to pray. "I have meat to eat," He said, "that ye know not of." It is well to learn to pray if it is only that we may learn how to stand alone. The time will come when the things upon which we have leaned will no longer afford us any support; when our health will fail us; when the ties which bind us to friends and loved ones will be severed. But he who has learned to pray has found a companionship in solitude which shall avail him in all the lonely crises of his life. It is not that, having found God, we can afford to part with everything else. But it is that, having found Him, we have found the true basis and guarantee of life. The darkness that overtakes us, be it what it may, is only temporary and precedent to the dawn. We have found the pathway of the stars.
3. The power of faith's great anticipation was another source of light and strength to our Saviour. He anticipated the Cross? Yes. But He anticipated the Crown also. To the eye of sight the Cross was a repulsive object; to the eye of faith it was the tree of life in the midst of the garden. He said to Himself, "The Cross will not be the end, but the beginning of My influence and power for good in this world, and through the sacrifice which I am about to make I shall transform the very gates of death into the gates of life!" These, then, were the great hopes, the high anticipations, shining like stars in the midnight sky, which sustained Christ in the darkness in which He found Himself. Have faith in God, and that faith, like a great pilot-star, shall light you over the roughest sea and in the darkest night.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:
WEB: Thus says Yahweh, who gives the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who stirs up the sea, so that its waves roar; Yahweh of Armies is his name: