The Bible Monthly vol 2
It is interesting to find, on comparing the last book of the Old Testament and the last book of the New Testament, that the heavenly luminaries are in both cases used as metaphors relating to the Lord Jesus as the Coming One. Both prophecies have a stern background, and foretell dark and terrible days ahead, but it is as if God by these striking images called men amid the sorrows and calamities abounding in an oppressed earth to lift their eyes of hope from the darkness below to the heavens above, from whence’ alone help and deliverance and comfort can come to them.
We also find that in both cases it is the divine Voice, speaking through the human messenger, that uses these figures, and further that in both cases the forcible words of assurance are directly addressed to those who fear God and are faithful to His word, while in each case God’s revelation to man is closed for the time being with words of cheer for those who scan the horizon.
Before lapsing into four centuries of silence, Jehovah says through Malachi, the last of the Old Testament prophets, “Unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings ” (Mal. iv. 2).
Then, in the New Testament case, before lapsing into what is already nearly nineteen centuries of prophetic silence, the Lord Jesus says to the assembly at Thyatira concerning the overcomer, “I will give him the Morning Star ” (Rev. ii. 28). Finally, at the conclusion of the Apocalyptic visions, the Lord says for the encouragement and consolation of His suffering bondmen (Rev. i. 1), “I am the Bright, the Morning Star” (Rev. xxii. 16).
THE SUN AND THE MORNING STAR.
We see at once that both these heavenly bodies, the sun and the star, are light-givers, though of differing orders. The sun, at the beginning, was set in the heavens as the greater light to rule the day, even as the moon, the lesser luminary, was set to rule the night (Gen, i, 14-19). The sun could in no sense be associated with the night season, for it is the dispeller of the darkness. But the moon, and also the stars, are associated directly with the night whose darkness they relieve (Ps. cxxxvi. 9). While the morning star, though shining in the night, is distinguished from other stars, inasmuch as it is the sure herald of the dawn, the forerunner of the sunrise.
The figures of the sun and the star are closely related to each other, but yet are perfectly distinct. Chronologically, the morning star must precede the rising of the sun, while its functions earthward cease altogether upon the appearance of the sun.
Both images are given in the Scriptures for the encouragement of the sons of hope while the darkness of sin yet remains upon the face of the earth. The Sun of righteousness speaks unmistakably of the coming millennial day of peace and truth, when evil will be subdued, and the Messiah will reign in Zion most gloriously. The Morning Star sheds its quiet brilliance for those who are awake and are watching for the dawn. To them it imparts the comforting assurance that the darkness has almost passed away, and the day of brightness is near at hand.
THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
The general theme of Malachi’s prophecy is the introduction of the day of Jehovah which will “burn as an oven ” for the wicked. In that day the fire of divine judgment will consume all those that do wickedly, and neither root nor branch will be left (iv. 1). Then the prophet proceeds to speak of its effect upon the righteous. For them the advent of the day of the Lord will introduce immeasurable. earthly blessing. Jehovah promises to those that fear His name that to them “shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings and ye shall go forth, and gambol as calves of the stall.” Thus the rising of the Sun of righteousness will usher in a day of gladness for Israel, and for all the nations of the earth.
THE MORNING STAR.
A chill black darkness precedes the dawn. But for those who “do not sleep as do others,” and who lift up their eyes as men of faith should do, the Morning Star displays its brightness to strengthen the hope of those who have waited through the long wearisome night watches. The Lord Jesus takes this character towards those who are looking for Him. “He has not yet arisen as the Sun of Righteousness on this benighted globe; but, to faith, the dawn is there, and the assembly sees Him in the now far-spent night as the Morning Star, knows Him, while watching according to His own word, in His bright heavenly character—a character which does not awake a sleeping world, but is the delight and joy of those who watch. When the sun arises, He will not be thus known: the earth will never so know Him, bright as the day may be.”
THE PROMISE TO THYATIRA.
The Epistle to Thyatira is the first one of the ‘seven in which the Lord makes reference to His coming (v. 25), and the special promise of the Morning Star to the faithful in this assembly is in keeping with the address as a whole. The reward held out for the overcomer is, it will be observed, twofold in character. The: Lord first promises to give him a place of authority and rule in the coming kingdom : “‘ to him will I give authority over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to shivers; as I also have received of My Father.” This promise contains an unmistakable allusion to Psalm ii. 9, where the future kingdom of the Son is delineated in prophetic outline. The temptress, Jezebel, had lured the professing church at Thyatira into an illicit connexion with the world (Rev. ii. 20), inducing them to seek a place of worldly rule before the appointed time when the Lord reigns. The overcomer resisted this policy and in consequence was persecuted by the world, as the Lord Himself was. His appropriate reward, offered for this form of faithfulness, was therefore a place of rule over the nations with Christ in His kingdom, ‘
Further, we find that in His direct address to the faithful few in Thyatira, the Lord cast upon them one burden only, namely, “That which ye have, hold fast till I come.” And to these toilworn watchers holding fast through the dreary night, the second part of the Lord’s promise is specially applicable : “I will give him the Morning Star.” This gift will of necessity be in advance of the kingdom awards, They will eventually shine forth as the sun in the kingdom (Matt. xiii, 43), but the Morning Star precedes the Sun, as we have before remarked. The Lord will give the overcomer the Morning Star before He’ shares with him His world-kingdom.
Clearly, then, the special promise to the watcher is association with Christ before the day of glory dawns upon the world. Then we shall become like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Even now the day-star arises-in our hearts (2 Pet. i. 19), as we cherish there the blessed hope of His return. But then there will be a special reward, for the Lord will “give ” the Morning Star to him who keeps His “works unto the end.” Let us look up, and take courage, for in a very, very, little while, He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry.
THE PROMISE TO THE BRIDE,
At the close of the book a final message of cheer is sent by the Lord to the churches. “I, Jesus, have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things for the churches.” The testimony then immediately follows: “I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the bright, the Morning Star” (Rev. xxii, 16). In this self-revealing utterance, we trace an order similar to the promise in the Epistle to Thyatira. What appertains to the kingdom precedes what appertains specially to the church. As the Root and Offspring of David, He who is David’s Son and David’s Lord, will establish the kingdom of His father David which has been foretold by the holy prophets of God since the world began. But before the days of that kingdom the marriage of the Lamb will be celebrated. The church will be gathered into the Father’s house and its brightest hope fulfilled. When the Lord announces His title of the Bright, the Morning Star, there is, from the hearts of those that love Him, an immediate response : “the Spirit and the bride say, Come.”
The personal coming of the Lord Jesus will answer the keenest expectation of the church. The hope was implanted in the hearts of the Lord’s own company on the night of His betrayal. He then said, ‘‘ If I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto Myself that where I am there you may be also.” There was not a word that He would then set the world to rights by purging out the evildoers that the kingdom of His Father might come. . The promise to come again was to satisfy the affections of hearts that felt the absence of the Lord from them to be a terrible deprivation. To the distressed ones He promised that as surely as He went away He would come again. Now when the Lord’s message to those who watch for the morning is “Tam the Bright, the Morning Star,” they are at once cheered by the thought that even now He is, as it were, on the way. “And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come.”
This hope is called by the apostle the ‘‘blessed hope,’’ but we miss the sense of its blessedness if we fail to keep before our hearts the Person of Christ Himself. Even after His resurrection the Lord came to His disciples to chase away their sorrow and fill their heart with joy. He did not come upon the clouds, He did not come with acts of power, He did not come to judge His enemies, but He came to His dejected followers, standing apart from the world in its hostility, and brought to them peace and joy by His. presence. To Mary Magdalene and the other women, as well as to the two journeying to Emmaus, the Lord answered by His appearance the inward devotion of their hearts to Himself. At that period the world did not see Him, nor care for Him, but His coming during those forty days was to and for His own exclusively.
In like manner, the Lord will come specially before the Sun of the millennial day arises to remove those that are His.
It is beautiful to observe that after revealing the solemn judgments which will follow the seals, bowls and trumpets of the Apocalyptic visions the Lord sends a special message to His bride, the church. Does she fear that time of unparalleled tribulation which threatenes to wipe out the elect from the earth? She need not fear. He will keep her from that hour. He who will appear as David’s Son and David’s Lord, will first come as the Bridegroom. The Starshine will precede the Sunshine.
In this figure of the Morning Star, the Lord presents Himself as an object for the eye of faith. The Star is in the heavens, from whence we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. iii, 20). To them that look for Him, will He appear the second time without sin unto salvation (Heb. ix. 28).
Before the book of Revelation closes finally, the Lord gives a special word for the ear of faith. As we complete the survey of the vast panorama from creation to the eternal state we hear the sweet words which link up our destiny with the brightest event the future can hold for us. He in whom is the yea (2 Cor, i, 19, 20) utters his parting message, “Yea, I come quickly.”
Again, the devout heart is ready with a response to this assurance from the Coming One, “Amen, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. xxii, 20). It was the spontaneous utterance of John, the writer of the book, as it afterwards became the utterance to the Lord of each and every reader of His special message in the Revelation, whose heart loves and longs for the coming of the Blessed Master. May it be the cry of all the ransomed saints to-day.