I. THE SUN—CHRIST AND THE SAINTS
The sun indicates Christ and also the saints who will shine as the sun in the kingdom. Malachi 4:2 says that Christ is the sun of righteousness. In His wings (that is, His shining) there is the healing of death. Without His shining, there is death; when His shining appears, death is healed. Luke 1:78-79 says that the birth of Christ was the real sunrise for humanity. Matthew 4:16 tells us that when Christ came to the sea of Galilee, He appeared as the great light. The people who sat in darkness saw a great light. Light shone upon those who were sitting in the region and shadow of death. That light was Jesus. Matthew 13:43a tells us that the overcoming saints will shine as the sun in the future kingdom. Although we may be a star today, it is too early for us to shine as the sun. For that, we must wait until the day of restoration. In the kingdom, many saints will shine as the sun. Today Christ is the sun; tomorrow the overcoming saints also will be the sun.
II. THE MOON—THE CHURCH
The moon is the church. In Joseph’s dream, his father was likened to the sun, his mother to the moon, and his brothers to the stars (Gen. 37:9). The church is the bride, the wife of Christ. Therefore, the moon is a figure of the church (cf. S.S. 6:10).
Revelation 1:20 tells us that the local churches are lampstands. Lamps are needed in the nighttime, not in the daytime. Revelation 1:20 proves strongly that the church age is not the daytime, but the nighttime. As a lampstand the church shines in the night. However, the lampstand itself does not shine; the lamp does. The seven lampstands are in Revelation chapter 1 and the seven lamps are in chapter 4. The seven lamps are the seven Spirits (Rev. 4:5). The church is the lampstand and the Spirit is the lamp held by the stand. If the church lacks the Spirit, the church is a lampstand without light. It is then a stumbling block. But, the lampstand with the shining lamp is wonderful. We may have the church as a lampstand, but what about the lamp? We need the lamp. Some may say, "I have the Holy Spirit as the lamp. I don’t care about the lampstand." If you say this, you are wrong, for the lamp is on the lampstand. If today, during the church age, you are going to have the light of the seven Spirits, you must have the churches. The seven lamps are on the seven lampstands.
During the church age it is night, and during the night we cannot get the sunlight, the light of Christ, directly. We need reflection. We need the moon to reflect the sunlight; we need the church to reflect the light of Christ. Without the church it is hard for us to see the light of Christ. When we come to the church and the church is not waning, we will surely receive light.
According to history, there was a long period during which the church was on the wane. While the moon is on the wane, that is the best time for the stars to shine. During the Dark Ages the stars shone. Martin Luther was a star. Before and after Luther, many other great stars were shining because the moon was on the wane. Two centuries ago, Zinzendorf and the so-called Moravian brothers were practicing the church life. Although their moon was not full, it was at least a crescent moon, reminding people that the church was there. A century later, the Brethren were raised up in England and the crescent was increased to nearly a full moon. Philadelphia, the church, was there. However, it didn’t last very long. There is a proverb which says that when the moon is full it begins to wane. Within a period of seventy years covering the last part of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth, we can see some other stars such as Andrew Murray, Mrs. Penn-Lewis, and A. B. Simpson. During that time, there were stars, but no moon—there was no church life. The moon was on the wane and the stars shone.
Praise the Lord! Today, if we don’t have a full moon, we at least have a full crescent. In the churches, we should not expect to see spiritual giants. If there are giants, this means that the moon is waning. As long as the moon is waxing, is growing, the stars should not be so evident. I don’t want to be a big star, just a small brother. When we have the moon, we have little need for the stars.
If we go to the sun and ask for light during the nighttime, we are foolish. The sun will tell you, "Don’t come to me. Go to my reflection. Go to the church if you want the light which comes from me. The church reflects my light." We must remember this is the night; the day has not come. We need the church. The Spirit speaks to the churches. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev. 3:22). We must go to the churches and get the light of the sun indirectly.
Many dear Christians say, "I don’t care for the churches—I only care for Christ." I can guarantee that whoever says this will not grow. Those who say such a thing may have the first-day light, but they lack the fourth-day lights. If you check with many saints, they will tell you that they did not grow until they came into the church. When we sincerely turn our heart to the church, we receive the proper light of Christ indirectly.
As many can testify, whenever we were bothered by the church and turned our backs to the church, we were in absolute darkness. When you turn your back on the moon during the nighttime, your face will be in darkness. However, when we turn to the church and are one with the church, the shining comes immediately.
Some may say that we stress the church too much and neglect Christ. But how can the moon shine without the light of the sun? Without Christ, the church has no light. The shining of the moon in the nighttime is simply a reflection of sunlight. The light of the church is altogether the reflection of Christ. People who talk so much about Christ without contacting the proper church will find it difficult to obtain the real and practical light for the growth in life. For the growth of life we all need the moonlight, which is a principal part of the fourth-day lights. The more church life we have, the more Christ we gain, the more light we receive, and the more growth in life we experience.
(Life-Study of Genesis, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)