VI.E.4.a The Ordinances of Heaven

  PART  VI  –     Transitional Aspects of the Lamp-Stand Model

Subpart E  –  Messiah-Body; Trumpets unto the Day of Atonement

Article 4    –  Times & Seasons

Section (a)   –  THE ORDINANCES OF HEAVEN

By Daniel Irving

i.    The Sign of the Stars

ii.   The Sign of the Sun and the Moon

iii.  The Role of Sun, Moon, and Stars in Signifying the Seasons

iv.  Critical Station of the Moon as a Sign to the Earth

Stars 02

Section (a)  –  THE ORDINANCES OF HEAVEN

i.  The Sign of the Stars

The prophetic principle of times and seasons is first expressed in the story of creation, where we read:

Then God said,“Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens  to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years;        Gen 1:14

Following the account of their creation and signification as for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years, we find the next allusion to the stars as coming in the promise made to Abraham concerning his progeny.  We read that God . . .  Abraham Counts Stars

. . .  took him outside and said,“Now look toward the heavens,  and count the stars, if you are able to count them.”  And He said to him, “So shall your descendents be.”           Gen. 15:5

Abraham was to be used in a profound and eternal way, and as an example of what it means to believe God unto eternal life.  And He would have “children;” as those following in his pattern of faith toward God.  Not Jews by the flesh, but Jews by faith.  Natural descendency was not the issue.  Therefore, Jesus told the Jews:

“If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.                                                                                      John 8:39

Therefore, we are to understand the children of Abraham as an allusion to those following Abraham in the steps of faith.  Abraham has spiritual children who are represented in the stars of heaven, as signs to the rest of the world.  These  children are those to whom the prophets speak, when they exhort:Abraham Journeys

Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you:  for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.  For the Lord shall comfort Zion: He shall comfort all her waste places.  And He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord;  joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.      Is. 51:2-3

After telling us to “look to the rock;” (v.1) an allusion to that object of faith established by God as immovable, which is the Person and work of Jesus Christ,[1] is the prophecy now telling us to look elsewhere?  Are we now to look at an Old Testament patriarch?  Rather, the prophecy is directing us to look to the principle typified by Abraham, which, according to Paul, is justification by faith.  Paul writes:

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to our flesh has found?                       Rom. 4:1

This is where Paul commences a lengthy explanation of the allegory posed in Abraham.  Paul has just spent the first three chapters of his letter to the Romans repeating the curses of the Law against all humanity including God’s own people.[2]  However, despite the cursings of the Law, Abraham, “our forefather,” has found something wonderful.  What is that?

“Abraham believed God, & it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”                                                                                      Rom. 4:3

A principle too-simple! And although, as the stars of heaven, Abraham’s seed must go through difficult times of testing wherein they may even face the terror of spiritual things, yet they are given a wonderful assurance.  And despite the railings of spiritual forces against them, they shall not be made ashamed.  For God saves them by a new principle:

Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale.                                                                                       Is. 29:22Stars 03

The stars of heaven represent those whom by faith, enter upon the promises of God.  They are signs to  be observed by the world.  Therefore Isaiah prophesies:

Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel.                                       Is. 8:18

When once the heart takes hold of this principle, false manifestations will have little influence.  The true sign given men, is the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the work of His Spirit in men.  Jesus said:

A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.                   Matt. 16:4 

What is the Spirit of God communicating when He says; “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel”?  What are these “signs and wonders?”  The miracle that is innate to the very meaning of the sanctified in Christ, which is the evidence of faith:Heaven 01

Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men,  in that he hath raised Him from the dead.   Acts 17:31

What is this “assurance unto all men”?  How is it that all men can be said to have been “assured”[3] that Jesus rose from the dead?  The Greek word translated “assured” will surprise us greatly!  For this is the same Greek word universally translated “faith” in the KJV!  Therefore this is the word Paul uses in this fundamental statement of our faith:

For by grace are ye saved through faith;  and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:                            Eph. 2:8

The assurance all men have that Jesus was raised from the dead is the assurance of “faith”.  This “assurance” is not merely a mental assent to the truth, but is rather more substantial.  For with this truth comes the witness of heaven borne by the Spirit of God:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.     Rom. 10:9

Faith is given by God as the evidence of what He has accomplished in Christ Jesus:

  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.                                                                                      Heb. 11:1

Those that “behold” this evidence that is unseen, themselves constitute signs to the rest of the world through whom God moves and works by the Spirit of His Son.  Thus Scripture uses the stars of heaven as the prophetic metaphor for these children of faith.

ii.  The Sign of the Sun and the Moon

The sun is a common metaphor for Christ, one of the prophecies concerning Whom, is:Sun 01

His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun;   and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.          Ps. 72:17

This is because as the sun is the “light of the world,” so is Jesus Christ.[4]

“I am the light of the world.    He that followeth Me, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”                    John 8:12

But as Jesus Christ is the light of the world, so those following Him, constitute a source of light as well.  Therefore Jesus told the Church, following in His commandments:

Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.                                                                                   Matt. 5:14

Just as the sun burns with the same intensity without respect to its station in the heavens, so does Christ constitute an unchanging witness of God.

Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.         Heb. 13:8

But just as the Lord implies, when he exhorts the Church not to hide its light, the Church does not always give a true and unchanging witness of Christ.  Moon Phases 01The Church goes through phases ranging from a brilliant reflection of Christ to the world when it is “full,” through various degrees of light, until bearing very little of the sun’s light, and appearing substantially dark.  Therefore the moon is particularly identified as marking the spiritual “seasons.”  We read in the Psalms:

  He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.                Ps. 104:19

The Church is to bear a witness of God even where the direct light from Christ is no longer evident to men.  The Church is to bear a witness to the world particularly in times of darkness.

Together, the sun and the moon represent Israel.  They constitute a metaphor for the light that is Christ, both head and body.  Just as the moon does not shine her own light, but the light of her source, Who is Christ, so does the Church radiate from a source independent of herself.  We gather this interpretation of the prophetic metaphors from Joseph’s dream:

“I have dreamed a dream more, & behold, the sun, & the moon, & the 11 stars made obeisance to me.”  And he told his father & his brethren; and his father rebuked him, & said unto him; “What is this dream that thou has dreamed?  Shall, I, thy mother, and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?  And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.        Gen 37:9-10

Jacob interpreted Joseph’s dream to mean that the sun and moon referred to himself (ie. Israel) and his wife, Rachel.  Together, they are Israel; the eternal witness of God.  Therefore we read concerning “the Lord, the God of Israel:”[5]

They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.                                                                                      Ps. 72:5Moon 03

The sun and the moon represent the witness of God put forward to humanity.  In the purity and majesty of Christ’s truth, the witness is clear:

  Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun and terrible as an army with banners?         Songs 6:10

iii.  The Role of Sun, Moon, and Stars in Signifying the Seasons

The sun, the moon, and the stars stand allegory for the prophetic role of Christ, the Church, and those saved through faith in Jesus Christ, in terms of the witness they represent to the world.  This relationship is expressed in the very first chapter of the Bible: 

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on earth”, and it was so.                                                                                      Gen. 1:14-15

But if the lights of heaven never changed without respect to earth, they could not adequately be a marker of times and seasons.  We have prophecy which foretells the darkening of both sun and moon.[6]  One of the most telling of these prophecies is found in Isaiah chapter 13:Moon 02

For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light:   the sun shall be darkened in his going forth,  and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.  And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity;   and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.                             Is. 13:10-11

The darkening of the sun, moon, and stars signify the shutting out of the light of spiritual truth; the witness of Jesus Christ, allowing transgression to increase in the Church and in the world, resulting in wrath upon the unrepentant, but Grace upon the repentant.  The kingdoms of this world and those principalities having their authority over the human spirit as subject to the Law shall be punished and brought low in order that they may be overthrown for the sake of the man’s subjection to the Spirit of Christ.  Therefore the next line of the prophecy reads . .

And the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, & the light of the sun will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven days, on the day the Lord binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted.    Is. 30:26 (NASV)

When Isaiah refers to the “light of the moon,” the Hebrew word translated “moon”[7] is le-bah-nah, and only occurs in this single context in Isaiah.  It derives from the Hebrew word for white, and relates to the name of the country of “Lebanon,” which was seen from a distance as white because of its snow-capped mountains.  But this is not the primary Hebrew word for “moon.”  Therefore we might infer that the “whiteness” of the moon is to be emphasized in Isaiah’s prophecy.

What is the “light of the moon”?  To understand the general purposes for the moon as a symbol in prophecy, we must first look to the story of creation.  We find that the lights which God set in the heavens were established for explicit purposes:

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on earth”, and it was so.                                                                                      Gen. 1:14-15

We find that the lights that God placed into the heavens served four primary purposes, those being to:

1)                   divide the day from the night,

2)                   give light to the earth,

3)                   mark the time and the season

4)                   serve for signs

We find that, as a matter of fact, references to the sun and the moon and the stars in prophecy seem to arise in all four of these contexts.  But we find that the moon stands both prominent and distinguishable in this regard.  We also note that all of these purposes seem comparable for the stated-purpose of God’s peculiar people (ie. the Church) in their capacity as a witness of Christ.      Let us consider each purpose:

i.  The Dividing of the Day from the Night

The Genesis account does not speak specifically to the moon.  Rather it speaks of the; “lights in the firmament”.[8]  Generally speaking, the sun and the stars divide the day from the night as, by definition, the sun is present only during the day, and the stars are evident only at night.  However, the moon is visible both at night and during the day and therefore stands distinct from the sun and the stars.  Therefore while this purpose is generally true for the “lights in the firmament,” it is not particularly true for the moon.  However, prophecy does particularly distinguish the moon as having its purpose for a light at night:Stars 02

Thus saith 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 which divides the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:                  Jer. 31:35

However as to the remaining purposes, the moon stands prominent in prophecy.

ii.  The Shedding of Light upon the Earth

Consider the following prophetic references to the role of the moon as providing light for earth:

Is 30:26             And the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, & the light of the sun will be seven times brighter,

Rev 21:23         And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, & the Lamb is the light thereof.

Does the church have a purpose of being a source of light for the world?

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.                                                                                      Matt. 5:14

iii.  The Marking of the Times and of the Seasons

The moon stands prominently as a marker of times and seasons precisely because it is the only heavenly light known for its peculiar phases.  The moon runs a regular cycle.  As the moon marks the literal lunar months, so does the Church mark the prophetic cycles:

Ps. 81:3       Blow up the trumpet in the new moon in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.

Ps 104:19    He appointed the moon for seasons:

Ez 46:1             . . . but on the sabbath it shall be opened, & in the day of the new moon it shall be opened.

Ez 46:6             And in the day of the new moon it shall be a young bullock without blemish,

Amos 8:5          Saying, “When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn?

Is prophecy particularly concerned with the position of the moon in the sky in relation to earth? Moon Phases 01 No, indeed.  But prophecy is particularly concerned with the orientation of the Church in respect to Jesus Christ, her source of Divine light, and the Spirit of God, and Truth. Therefore the Church has purpose in signifying the times and seasons of the Spirit of God.  The church certainly bears a witness to the world of God’s timing in spiritual things:

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.     John 3:8

Those born of the Spirit have a purpose in bearing objective evidence of the movement and work of the Spirit of God.  Being animated by the Spirit of Christ, they bear a witness of Christ.

iv.  The Moon’s Role as a Sign

The Church, as the anointed body of Christ, is to serve as a sign to the world, whether a light reflecting the majesty of God’s holiness in Christ, or whether in the absence of such:

Ps 89:37   It shall be established for ever as the moon and as a faithful witness in heaven.

Is 13:10   . . . and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

Ez 32:7             And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, & the moon shall not give her light.

Joe 2:10  . . .  the sun & the moon shall be dark, & the stars shall withdraw their shining:

Joe 2:31        The sun shall be turned into darkness, & the moon into blood, before the great & the terrible day of the LORD come.

Rev 6:12       & the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, & the moon became as blood;

Rev 8:12     &  the third part of the sun was smitten, & the third part of the moon & the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened,

This aspect of the church is also fulfilled in any Spirit-baptized believer in Christ:

Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serves not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.                                                                                      I Cor. 14:22Moon 03

That the church constitutes any sign comes by virtue of its placement in the heavens.   If the Church shines any sort of light, or reveals the times and seasons of God in Christ, it is only to the extent that the Church occupies a heavenly place.  The Church’s witness goes only so far as the Church enters upon the words of the apostle that God:

. . . has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:        Eph. 2:6

But what particularly does the moon signify? Recall again Joseph’s dream:

And he related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him “What is this dream that you have had?  Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground.”                                                                                      Gen. 37:10

If the sun stands for Jacob as a prefigure for Christ, and the moon symbolizes Rachel as a prefigure of the Church, then the moon logically symbolizes the Church, as the presumptive entity being prepared as the Bride of Christ.  The moon is so apt metaphor!  For even though it does not compare to the glory of the sun, it occupies the same relative size in the sky as does the sun.[9]  As Christ appeared in His humanity and had no particular visual glory beyond that of a man, so does the earthly witness of the Church appear in its humanity, and in this sense, is no greater or less than the humanity of Jesus, even though the true and unrevealed glory of Christ infinitely exceeds that of the Church, who without Christ is dark.

Secondly, the Church, symbolized by the moon, has no glory but that reflected from Christ, represented by the sun.  The Church is witness of God only so far as it reflects the image of Christ.  Therefore it is said of John the Baptist, who prefigured the Elijah-witness of the Church:

There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John.  He came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light.  There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.           John 1:6-9

Do we perceive then how entirely suitable is this metaphor presented in the sun and the moonBronze Gilding 02While the true light may be hidden from sight, the world has the witness of the Church, who has been anointed by the Spirit of God to stand despite a world darkened by the absence of Christ’s direct witness of Himself.  The moon has no light of its own, but reflects the true light of the sun.

Thirdly, Christ’s glory shines continuously throughout all phases of the moon and does not diminish in its strength.  James alludes to this metaphor when he writes:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights,  with whom is no variableness,  neither shadow of turning.                                                                                      James 1:17

Just as the sun does not vary in its brightness, nor is it capable of presenting or casting a shadow, so is God’s witness gloriously perfect in every respect.  But as to the Church, is there variableness in its witness? Moon New 01 Indeed.  The Church, as does the moon, regularly diminishes to the point of near darkness, to the point of apostasy from the Truth.  The Church, as well, increases to a fullness in regular cycles to the extent that she renders a full reflection of the witness of Christ to the earth.

Finally, consider the question, When is the moon the fullest and brightest?  The answer is, at such time the earth is the darkest from the perspective of the moon.  A darkened face of the earth means a full moon.  And again, When is the moon the darkest?  The answer is when it stands in the way of the sun respect to the earth.

Yes, it almost appears that the earth-moon-sun relationship was preordained as a symbol for Christ and the Church.  Moon Serene 03Therefore Solomon calls her “fair as the moon”.[10]  The moon is the “witness of man” concerning Jesus Christ.  It may be full and bright, or it may be absent and dark.  Of its brightness, we have the testimony and witness of John the Baptist as a pre-figure. And this is why the Lord directed the Jews back toward John the Baptist when they began stumbling over His witness.  He said to them:

You sent unto John, and he bore witness unto the truth.  But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that you might be saved.     John 5:33-34

iv.  Critical Station of the Moon as a Sign unto the Earth

The witness of Christ is the true and undiluted witness of God, which the world cannot receive in undiluted form absent the Gospel message and preparation by the Spirit of God.  This preparation of men through the agency of the witness of God’s Spirit in the Church, is therefore an essential part of God’s witness to the world.

There is another metaphor for the children of Abraham.  They are referred to as “sand” for their multitude.  Recall the prophecy given to Abraham:Stormy Beach 01

That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;                 Gen. 22:17

According to prophecy, the sand of the seashore occupies a crucial function in respect to the nations, whose chaotic motions have their source in the spirit of sin and rebellion.  Jeremiah’s prophecy states:

“Do you not fear me?  Declares the Lord.  Do you not tremble in my presence?  For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, an eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it.  Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.  But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; They have turned aside and departed.”       Jer. 5:22-23 

The Church is that buffer which stands between the world and perdition.  The sea is a depiction of lost humanity, subject to every spiritual wind which blows upon it. Stormy Beach 03 This stands in contrast to the rock upon which is founded the Church, which is the revelation of the Person and work of Jesus Christ.[11]   Unbelieving humanity is a turbulent and chaotic mixture driven by spiritual currents, and always in need of boundaries and limitations lest they overrun their containment, and commit unpardonable transgression.  This relationship between the Church and those outside Christ was first conveyed by Moses:

When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.                         Deut. 32:8

This is not speaking of a literal nation or of literal nations.  The sea represents those outside Christ, without attachment to their true spiritual headship in respect to God.  Lacking the knowledge of their true headship, they are perpetually tossed about in all their motions, animated by a great variety of currents and winds, rather than by God’s Spirit.  In this state of enmity, their Creator has established a boundary for the purpose of preventing the final sacrilege of apostasy.  The Church of Jesus Christ is that entity within the world for which God Spirit’s has purpose in fulfilling God’s plan of redemption.  The Church is the place of the coming to birth of God’s progeny through the work of Faith in Jesus Christ, as His Spirit continually brings forth children of Abraham.  These children of Abraham are themselves sinners called out from the world to bear a witness.  As such, they occupy a position of forgiveness, Grace, and God’s forbearance with men for the sake of Christ.  Thus they occupy a barrier between the vulgar and chaotic things of this world, and those inviolable principles of God’s holy nature.Stormy Beach 02

Therefore, it is to the benefit of the nations that there exists a body of mankind delineating a boundary and buffer of truth and intercession, that God may have place among men, and that the transgression of the final apostasy be forestalled.  Without this buffer of the Church, the final apostasy would lead to the full blossom of transgression and the spiritual desolation of humanity.

The Church occupies a critical place in God’s dealings with humanity, as the Grace invested in the Church through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the savor in this world unto God.  When the light of the world, Who is Christ, is reflected brightly, men are brought to that place wherein God may fulfill His purposes in forgiving their sins, cleansing their hearts, and communing with their spirits; all within the auspices of Faith.  When that light is dim, as it is when there is a new moon, the hope is that God will send His message again to preach the everlasting Gospel.  Therefore, the prophecy:Moon Serene 01

  Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.  For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.     Ps. 81:3-4 

Thus the purposes of the Church are restored in each advent of God’s Spirit upon humanity.


[1]  Matthew 16:16-18   And Simon Peter answered & said, “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you Simon Barjona, because flesh & blood did not reveal this to youbut My Father who is in heaven.  And I also say to you that you are Peter, & upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.”

[2] Romans 3:9  “…for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;…”

[3] G4102   pistis  pis’-tis  From G3982; persuasion, that is, credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly constancy in such profession; by extension the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: – assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.

[4] John 8:12  “I am the light of the world.  He that followeth Me, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

[5] Psalm 72:18  Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.

[6] Isaiah 13:10, Revelation 6:12 & 8:12

[7] H3842  lebânâh  leb-aw-naw’  From H3835; properly (the) white, that is, the moon: – moon. See also H3838.

[8] Genesis 1:14

[9] This is why a solar eclipse allows the moon to perfectly occupy the sun’s position in the sky.

[10] Song of Solomon 6:10

:[11] See commentaries on Isaiah 17:12 and 23:4.

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About Lamp-Stand

I was converted to the faith of Jesus Christ in 1982 at which time I received water baptism and Spirit baptism. In the Spring of 2008 I was led of the Spirit through a process of repentance upon which I had an encounter with Christ that worked a profound change upon my inner being. I became aware that I had been forgiven a great debt of sin. I soon felt the Lord's direction that I close my office that my energies not be divided from the study of doctrine.
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