For some of us, January 1 hits like a bullet train. To others it’s just another day. But as we put the holiday bustle behind us and dust off those New Year’s resolutions, don’t forget to thank God for his gift of times and seasons. Have you ever wondered why God made days, weeks, months, and years in the first place? Here are three biblical reasons that may change how you think about time.
Does God need to divide time in order to keep track of it? No, but we do! We need times to work and times to rest. The cadence of spring, summer, autumn, and winter offers healthy changes in temperature, scenery, and activity—in a dependable cycle over the years. Also, our finite minds relate better to the past and the future when we have definite markers of time.
God was aware of our needs from the beginning, so on Day Four of creation he 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” (Genesis 1:14–15). Day and night, months, and years were part of God’s original creation before sin marred the world. He even gave mankind the seven-day week with a pattern of resting on the seventh day, for our benefit (Genesis 2:2–3; Mark 2:27).
For most of history, if people wanted to know the date or time, they looked up at the heavens.
In an age of computers and smartphones, we don’t have to look far to learn the exact year, month, day, and time—even down to fractions of a second! But for most of history, if people wanted to know the date or time, they looked up at the heavens. Of course, various timekeeping gadgets have been around for thousands of years, from sundials to obelisks, water clocks to hourglasses. These days we certainly don’t need to go outside to see what time it is—just glance at a digital clock or whip out the iPhone.
Other modern advances also affect our perception of time. For instance, when dusk is falling outside, we just turn on the electric lights and keep going. While these incredible technologies have made us more productive than ever, we run a risk of losing our sense of wonder at the changing seasons.
People in ancient times were keenly aware of their dependence on the regular patterns of sun, moon, and stars. If the sun didn’t rise every day, crops would fail and life on earth would collapse! Sadly, most civilizations throughout history have worshipped these heavenly bodies as deities rather than acknowledging them as gifts from the wise Creator God. But we know the consistency of day and night is founded on the unchanging nature and promise of God (Numbers 23:19).
The sunrise is faithful because our God is faithful.
As you go to sleep tonight, you don’t have to wonder if the sun will rise tomorrow. The Creator has promised, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). The sunrise is faithful because our God is faithful. He perfectly upholds the sun, moon, and stars in the courses he has set for them, and we can count on the Lord to fulfill all his promises to his people.
When you’re tempted to complain about the winter weather or summer’s blistering heat, remember that even these point to the faithful hand of God fulfilling his promises.
In addition to reminding us of God’s faithfulness, each new day is also a testament to his grace—giving us what we don’t deserve. The Creator is patient and kind even to those who hate him, as Scripture says, “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
As sinful people living in a broken world, we especially welcome the fresh start offered by a new year. It’s a reminder of the clean slate that is ours because of the gospel—those who come to God in repentance and faith receive forgiveness and hope of eternal life!
Praise the Lord that each new day is an opportunity to put the past behind us because of his great mercy. No matter what darkness you faced yesterday, today we can say with the prophet Jeremiah, “This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21–23).
The Creator didn’t have to bless us with these heavenly markers of times and seasons, but he graciously did. So why not step outside to observe the moon tonight and praise God for a sunrise in the morning?