For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
What is His name?
The Bright and Morning Star
This article will provide the eighteenth name out of the many more which are given to convey to us something of the greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ. It will also mark the end of the third year of this magazine and will terminate this series. It seems fitting therefore that we should consider this last title, employed by the Lord Himself when He concluded His Revelation to John with the words: "I am ... the bright and morning star" (Revelation 22:16). The title has no special significance for the man who is sitting snugly in an armchair, but it is full of meaning for the tired pilgrim.
Every traveller who has journeyed on through a long night will appreciate the thrill of those darkest moments when the bright morning star gives hope and prospect of the dawn of a new day. We Christians are travellers. We find ourselves in a world of the most intense spiritual gloom, and probably to many of us the darkness seems to be growing deeper. We need to look up and away from the happenings around us and by faith to fix our gaze on the Bright and Morning Star, even our Lord Jesus Himself. He is our living hope, and He pierces the black darkness of our world with the bright assurance of His coming kingdom.
There was a star which led to Him in His humble Bethlehem home, but for the second coming He is Himself the star, bright with hope and glorious in His reigning majesty. This time He will come as King. In the Bible, stars carry this idea of ruling. It is an imagery which the Scriptures make use of in the poetic couplet of Old Testament prophecy:
There shall come forth a star out of Jacob,
And a sceptre shall rise out of Israel.
The speaker, Balaam, had to confess that it was "not now" (Numbers 24:17), and in fact it involved nothing hopeful for him. The tragedy of this seer, this man whose eyes God temporarily opened, was that although his prophecy was true, it bore no relationship to his own private life. He fervently wished to die the death of the righteous, but he had no intention of living a righteous life: in fact he loved the wages of unrighteousness. The man who wants to enjoy the benefit of the star must be prepared to accept the authority of the sceptre. The Morning Star must rule us if He is to guide us.
So Balaam warns us of the perils of mere enlightenment about God's purposes. It is tragedy enough to be quite blind to the claims of Christ's kingdom – as so many are – but surely it is an even greater tragedy to be informed about its reality and imminence and yet to have no part in it. By all means let us consider the prophetic outlook and not neglect the signs of the times, but the one great priority is to have a living knowledge of Christ by grace and to concentrate thoughts and expectations on Him. He is our hope. The signs of His coming make a fascinating study but on the whole such a preoccupation draws attention to sombre things and in itself it cannot effect any spiritual transformation in the student. The light of the Morning Star, however, has a revolutionary effect on our characters and daily behaviour. He not only advises us that the Day of the Lord is near but fits us to play our part in that great and glorious triumph.
So it was that to the church in Thyatira – Lydia's home church – the Lord reinforced His call for battling faith by promising that the overcomer should share His rule and receive this great gift: "I will give him the morning star" (Revelation 2:28). Not only the letter to Thyatira but the whole book of the Revelation was given not just for reading and hearing but for practical obedience (Revelation 1:3 and 22:7). The dimensions of the matters dealt with in the book are tremendous. We therefore conclude that the challenges presented to the reader are also immense, and the blessings offered to the obedient correspondingly of great importance. So the Bright and Morning Star both comforts us and calls us on to the obedience of faith. The Day of the Lord will soon dawn. In that Day, so we are told, "they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament: and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). Meanwhile may nothing distract us from keeping our eyes on Him who is the Bright and Morning Star.