Q&A: Solar Power

What does “Under the Sun” mean in Ecclesiastes?

Genesis 1 tells us that the purpose of the sun, moon and stars is to act as kingly governors of the physical realm. They were created at the centre of the Creation Week (Day 4), before Man, yet Man was not to bow down to them.

And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. (Deuteronomy 4:19)

The reason for this is that although Genesis 1 presents Man as part of the physical order, Genesis 2 moves him beyond this to a social order. When Adam perceives that he is without a mate, he is “bowed down,” physically humbled, that Woman might be constructed. Adam’s order would not be like that of the animals. His rule from its very beginning would be “sacrificial.” Men would not bow to the stars (or to idols) but to each other, because all men are images, reflections, of God. Adam was to subdue the physical order and bring it into submission, and yet submit to other men. The sinful reverse of this is the worship of the physical order (which is yet inherent in the scientism of our own age) and the tyrannical subjugation of our fellow men, which is exactly what happened in Genesis 3. Physical, Social, Ethical.

Under the sun, Solomon sees riches “kept by their owner to his hurt,” as well as toil and oppression. It is all Adamic. Just as the heavenly lights are placed at the centre of the Creation Week, so Testing is at the centre of the process of Adam’s Ethical qualification under Covenant. The idea is that these lights are “the eyes of God,” witnesses to Adam’s obedience or disobedience while the Lord’s silence makes it seem as if He is absent. It was intended that Adam “feel the heat” of the conflict between the Word of the Lord and the Word of the “angel of light.”

Just as these physical lights govern the heavens, so the heavenly lights are used in later scriptures as symbols of Adam and his offspring, kingly governors of the earth. Prophecies concerning the fall of kings often reference the fall of stars from heaven. Physical language is used to describe a social event following an ethical failure. For example, Joseph’s second dream concerned the stars of heaven. In the wilderness, Israel was arranged around the Tabernacle in twelve constellations. And Jesus quoted Isaiah’s prophecy against Babylon to predict the fall of the Herods and the shake-up of Rome (the year of the four emperors).

Covenantally-speaking, the sun and moon have different roles. One emits light (kingly) and the other reflects light (priestly). The Old Covenant took place in the night time. All its festivals were lunar (the word translated “months” is actually “moons.”) The birth of Christ was heralded by a star and the coming of the kingdom of Christ was the dawn.

Israel’s literature also moves from priestly to kingly. Solomon himself moved between his house and the Temple surrounded by golden shields — marching across the sky like the sun — the bridegroom coming from his chamber. So the meaning in Ecclesiastes has to do with priestly “wilderness” toil under God’s authority, and also kingly sight (wisdom) under the light of God’s law.

Interestingly, the inside of the Tabernacle was dark because it was windowless. The only light was the light of the Lampstand, symbolizing the light of God’s Law. But Solomon’s Temple allowed in some natural light, and contained an “Evian multiplication” of Lampstands. Ezekiel’s Temple (picturing the Jew-Gentile social construct set up in Daniel’s time) had many windows. And the New Jerusalem, the Church, is not only all window, the light is coming from within. It is not natural light, but Ethical Light, the light of the Lamb who satisfied the Law so that He might not only govern the physical order but the social order. God’s mind is fully transparent in Christ.

And 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. (Revelation 21:23)

Just as Day 4 was the centre of the Creation Week, so Pentecost is the centre of the festal year, and the Lampstand is the centre of the architectural progression of the Tabernacle furniture. The Lampstand pictured the seven lights which could be seen with the naked eye: the sun moon and five planets. The Lampstand dwelling in the body (the Tabernacle: Christ) was fulfilled in humanity at Pentecost, hence the flames over the heads of the saints. The Scriptures speak of God’s people becoming wise, shining like stars (Daniel 12:3). This refers to the saints being governed internally by God’s Spirit, rather than merely external laws. This is kingly maturity, which leads to prophetic witness. At Pentecost, the saints were no longer “under the sun” but equals with their exalted heavenly brother, filled with His Spirit, and possessing the unadulterated light of His holy mind. Those who rejected Pentecost and “blasphemed the Spirit” would “feel the heat” of the curses of the Law under a different kind of outpouring in the Jewish War. Again, “physical” language is used to describe a “social” event. [1]

Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. (Revelation 16:8-9)

Satan was the “shining one” in the Garden, but his “eyes of darkness” have been exposed and it is now the sons of God who shine. Moreover,  as stars no longer “under the sun,” our labor under this New Covenant — serving as God’s eyes [2]– is not in vain.

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” (Philippians 2:14-16)

The slain Firstfruits saints ascended into heaven, and their ethical and social authority became “Creational.”

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. (Revelation 7:16)

Those who are faithful “under the sun” are adopted by the Father of lights (James 1:17).

[1] See Cosmic Language.
[2] See Eye Spy.

For more in biblical symbols, check out James B. Jordan’s Through New Eyes. For more on their use in the Revelation, get his lectures.

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