Christ the Morning Star
Revelation 22:16-21
I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David…

The Lord speaks here in a manner that is all His own. Nothing is more profoundly characteristic in His words, from first to last, than His witness to Himself. He, the sacred exemplar of all self-denial, yet always and immoveably presents Himself in terms of self-assertion, and such self-assertion as must mean either Deity, however in disguise, or a delusion moral as well as mental, of infinite depth. "I am the Truth; I am the Life; I am the Bread of Life; I am the True Vine; I am the Good Shepherd." We have but this same tone, perfectly retained, when here the same Voice speaks from amidst the realities of the unseen. The imagery, indeed, is lifted to the scenery of the firmament; He who is the genial Vine and the laborious Shepherd, now also reveals Himself as the Star of Stars in a spiritual sky. "I am the Star." For the moment we will take the text in this briefest form, for it will suggest to us, in part at least, the reason of the use of the starry metaphor at all. "I am the Star"; why the Star? We may be perfectly sure that the word, with all its radiant beauty, is no mere flight of fancy. Prophecy, not poetry, underlies these last oracles of the Bible. Balaam had heard, among "the words of God," of a mysterious Person, or at least of a mysterious Power, strong to destroy and save; figured to his soul in vision as a star, destined in other days to appear out of Israel; and the belief of the Jewish Church, in the lifetime of Jesus, certainly was that the Star of that prediction was the King Messiah. The word indicated, probably, the royal dignity, touched and glorified with the light of Deity, or of Divinity at least. As such the Lord here takes it up. He claims here to be the spiritual and immortal King, the Conqueror, beating down His adversaries and possessing His redeemed. This is what appears in special fulness, in other forms, in earlier passages of the Apocalypse; "the Lamb" is "in the midst of the throne"; the throne is "the throne of God and of the Lamb." But now look further into the text. The voice at Patmos not only claims the primeval prophecy for Jesus, as the King of the new Israel. It expands that prophecy, and discloses truth within truth treasured there. For the Lord does not only assert Himself to be the star, the bright star; as of course His brightness must be surpassing if He is in any sense at all a star. His own presentation of the metaphor has something in it new and special — "I am the Morning Star." Why was not the word "Star" left alone in the utterance? In pointing to Messiah as the Star, were not the ideas of brilliancy, and elevation, and all that is ethereal, sufficient? No; it was not to be so. Messiah Himself so qualifies the word by this one bright epithet as to show Himself as not the King merely, but the King of Morning; around whom gathered, and should gather for ever, all that is real in tenderest hope and youngest vigour, and most cheerful aspiration, and such beginnings, as shall eternally develope and never contract into fixity and decline. It reminds the disciple that his blessed Lord is no mere name of tender recollection, no dear relic of a perished past, to be drawn sometimes in silence from its casket and clasped with the aching fondness and sprinkled with the hot tears, of hopeless memory. He is not Hesperus that sets, but Phosphorus that rises, springing into the sky through the earliest dawn; the pledge of reviving life, and growing light, and all the energies and all the pleasures of the happy day. And the word speaks of a kind of joy for which the open day would not be so true a simile. It indicates the delights of hope along with those of fruition; a happiness in which one of the deep elements is always the thought of something yet to be revealed; light with more light to follow, joy to develope into further joy, as the dawn passes into the morning and then into the day.

1. First, then, we are reminded here that as "His commandments are not grievous," so the principles He gives to animate His follower to obedience are not melancholy. The life eternal, the annihilation of the second death, is the knowledge of Himself; and to know Him is to live in light indeed. It is to touch a sympathy boundless alike in its tenderness and its power; it is to deal perpetually and everywhere with One who is not poetic legend but the central rock of History; One who has proved Himself in the fields of fact to be a reality for ever, and who is exercising at this hour in human experience a multiplicity of personal influence too vast and too peculiar to be accounted for by any mere memory of departed power. He being such, and such being the knowledge of Him, what in brief are His sacred principles for the soul that seeks Him? Simply these in their essence: — first to trust Him, then, to follow Him.

2. And again, this glorious epithet of the Star of salvation — this morning-word — reminds us that not for a part only but for the whole of the earthly course, early as well as late, and late as well as early, Jesus Christ is the true Light to light every man. Not for the sick-man's room only and the dying bed is His faith good. Let us thank God often that it is good there. But this same religion is not only the last light for dying eyes. It is the star of the morning of even this lower life. There is that in it (or rather in Him who is His own religion), which is of all things fittest to enter with harmonious power into all the confiding joy of childhood, and all the strongest aspirations of youthful thought and will. One condition does the Lord propose to the young soul, as to all others — the condition of submission to Himself. And where that condition is, through grace, in its true sense, accepted, there will there be found to develop within the life an influence essentially of strength and gladness; an assurance of a companionship most tender because Divine; of a sympathy meeting every true need of grief or of happiness; of a wisdom which concerns itself with every detail of every day; of an affection to which the best endearments of earth can but point as to their glorious archetype; and, above all this and with it all, the power of the presence of an invisible but awful purity, and the spoken promise, in connection with that presence, of a final life of endless joy.

3. In a few short years there may, there must, come over you the sense of approaching maturity and fixity as to earthly conditions of life and action. You must find, soon or late, as to the world, that your rate of movement in vigour and enjoyment is no longer, in itself, what once it was. But if Christ dwells in your heart by faith, there will be a charm there which will not only console you under the change, but will glorify it to you. As eternity approaches, you will more distinctly see the connection between it and time. The appointed task, even under the burthen of the slow failure of outward power, will be met by you as those only can meet it who know that these things are links in the indissoluble will of an eternal Friend, and that the veil is already parting which shuts out for a season the open view of the perfection and acceptability of all that will.

4. May we not, in conclusion, move a step further in our meditation, and find here a promise which is concerned also with the immortal world itself? We remember, of course, that He who is here called the Star is elsewhere called the Sun; and we might think, therefore, that He here speaks as, in a certain sense, His own forerunner; the Firstborn of the dead, whose own resurrection is the herald of His own final triumph. But it seems truer to the analogy of His other metaphoric titles to view this title as belonging to no passing phrase of His majesty, if such could be, but to its essence for ever. What elsewhere he claims to be, He is in perpetuity. On the throne as truly as on the Cross, He is the Lamb. In the fields of heaven He is still the Shepherd, "leading His flock to the living fountains of waters." And surely in the upper sky He will be for ever the Star of Morning, so far as He will be the eternal pledge and joy of a life that will be for ever young, of energies that will accumulate without end, of a service before the throne that will always deepen in its ardour and its triumph, of discoveries in the knowledge of the Eternal which will carry the experience of the blessed from glory to glory in a succession that cannot close.

(H. C. G. Moule, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

WEB: I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify these things to you for the assemblies. I am the root and the offspring of David; the Bright and Morning Star."

Christ the Morning Star
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