"Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night."
As I thought about this verse the other morning, an unexpected application occurred to me. I suppose the thought arose because this text uses the word "rule" to denote the activity of the sun and moon. Other translations use the same sort of personification, translating the word "rule" with "govern."
Ruling. Governing. These are positions of authority and privilege. These are offices to which some are called upon and expected to function in for the good of others. Those entrusted with the responsibility to rule and govern are expected to be great leaders, men & women of vision and benevolence, outstanding examples of public service.
But here in this text the Lord assigns one particular - and maybe often overlooked - responsibility to those who rule: Shed Light. The sun and the moon fulfill their office by shedding light upon men. The greater ruler sheds more light. The lesser ruler sheds less light. But either way, their special calling is to make things visible and clear.
So, it seems to me, are we to judge the effectiveness of our rulers, leaders and governors here on earth. Are they spreading light or authors of confusion? Do they seek to expose the truth and bring to light the matters of greatest moment and urgency among us? Or are they more concerned with concealing their real motivation and covering up the things that are corrupt and broken in our society? Great leaders must be great teachers. Deceivers and corrupt rulers hide the facts, substituting an illusion for reality. They blind men's eyes, rather than open them.
And what about you and I? This verse tells me that my effectiveness as a leader (and we are all "leading" in some way or in some circle) hinges greatly on my determination to pursue the truth and share it, explain it and live it. How desperately is this needed today! So much darkness seems to prevail in every aspect of our culture: in business, in media, in politics, in religion. Where's the light? Where are those committed to the truth and sharing it? Where are the men and women who can and will articulate what is wrong with our world and lead with a beacon of illumination our culture into a more pure and prosperous future?
And of course, all this only highlights the desperate need we all ultimately have for spiritual light. This is what sets Jesus Christ apart. "I am the light of the world." The Bible is called a "lamp to our feet and a light to our paths." And this explains why so few will follow Him. "Men loved darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil." When it comes to the matters of greatest importance, the matters of the soul and of eternity, pointing people to Christ is the only way to shed light. Hence Christ called him that "burning and shining lamp (John 5:35)."