Psalm 55:17 and several other passages show that God created time so that a new day begins at sunset. I recently noticed a powerful analogy about the life-cycle of men and women that is laced into that evening-to-day pattern that I’d love to get your thoughts about.
If you drew a picture of the day linearly, from beginning to end –from sunset to sunset– its light might look something like this:
(a.) (b.) (c.)
Let’s go through the three sections briefly.
The official beginning of the day is the very moment that the last sliver of the sun slips below the horizon.
Like a wedding reception that the radiant bride recently left, the glow remains, but is fading fast.
I remember from the hunter’s safety class I took as a boy that, in North Carolina, it is legal to shoot at a deer up to 30 minutes after sunset. That’s because enough light remains to allow the hunter to see the target clearly, to make sure it’s not one of his hunting buddies wearing a double-beer hat, and to allow him take a confident shot.
But it is against the law to shoot at an animal 31 or more minutes after sunset, because there is not enough light left to take a confident shot. Which brings us to…
Within an hour of sunset, all the light has vanished. It is dark, and we sleep (or stay up watching old episodes of Gilligan’s Island on Hulu maybe).
The sun rises, we wake up, and let our diurnal eyeballs lead us through our various daytime activities. This is the real substance of the day when we have the light to accomplish our work, play, and other objectives.
The first section is our physio-chemical existence, the life we are now living. It is the 3 score and 10 years each of us is given.
The biblical writer James called this physical life a vanishing vapor. The Apostle Peter called it withering grass. Ezra called it a shadow. King David called it a flower of the field that is gone after the wind passes over it. CAKE said as soon as you’re born, you start dying.
We live out our short lives, and then die.
Death is represented by section b. The sun is down, and we “sleep”.
But then comes section C.
At the end of this age of man, everyone who has ever lived and died will be resurrected. The overwhelming majority will then begin real life that lasts forever.
The analogy breaks down at the very end of the spectrum — because, well, because the day ends. But the sun will never set on us again once our real lives begin, and the light will never fade. The life we are now live is just a blip on the radar. It is the 30 minutes when you can still shoot at a deer. It’s the prologue — just before chapter one of our never-ending book begins.
“As a well spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.”
― Leonardo da Vinci
A Time to Cast Away Stones thanks Monica Antonio for creating the sunlight graphic above.