Sunrise Symbolism

by John P. Pratt

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The word day has two distinct meanings: the daily period of light, and also the full cycle of both darkness and light. Both meanings are indicated in the Lord's account of the Creation:

"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
"And God saw the fight, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
"And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day." (Gen. 1:3-5.)

Note that in the last verse, day refers first to the period of light, and then to the entire cycle. Each of these days has its own meridian. The meridian of the period of light occurs at noon; but the full cycle of the day, as the Lord told Moses (see Gen. 1:3-5) and Abraham (see Abr. 4:5), begins with the night and ends with the day. That means that the symbolic meridian of the full daily cycle occurs at sunrise, which is both the midpoint of the entire cycle and also the division between light and darkness. Note that both the meridian of the twelve-hour day at noon and of the twenty-four-hour day at sunrise are valid symbols; they are simply the midpoints of two different "days."

The coming of light to darkness at the meridian of the first day of creation suggests that even those events bear record of Christ. (See Moses 6:63.) That is, on the first day God created light, and Christ is the Light of the world (see John 8:12,12:46), the Firstborn of creation (see Col. 1:15). Further, the light came to the darkness at the meridian of that first "day" of creation, just as the light of Jesus would come into the dark world (see John 3:19) in the meridian of time.

A clear example of the rising sun representing Christ is the prophecy that unto the righteous "shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings." (Mal. 4:2.) This reference to the sun so clearly meant Christ that the phrase "Son of righteousness" is interchangeable with it. (See 3 Ne. 25:2; 2 Ne. 26:9.) Nephi pointed out that Christ would rise "with healing in his wings" at His resurrection. (See 2 Ne. 25:13.) Mark wrote that when the women arrived at the tomb, the sun had risen, and Christ also had risen (see Mark 16:2, 9), but it is not clear whether Mark intended an association of Christ with the sun. The tie of the rising of the Son at the Resurrection and the rising of the sun on that day is often noted during Easter sunrise services.