By  G. H. LANG.


A COMMONLY held interpretation of this beautiful figure is thus stated by William Kelly (Lectures on the Revelation, 56, ed. 1884): -


"The sun, when it rises, summons man to his busy toil, but the morning star shines for those only who sleep not as do others - for those who watch as children of the light and of the day.  We shall be with Christ doubtless when the day of glory dawns upon the world; but the morning star is before the day, and Christ not only says, ‘I am ... the bright and morning star,’ but ‘I will give ... the morning star.’  He will come and receive His heavenly ones before they appear with Him in glory.  May we be true to Him in the refusal of present ease, and honour, and power!  May we follow Him, taking up our cross and denying ourselves daily!  He will not forget us in His day, and He will give us ere it comes the morning star."  The meaning here intended is that the Lord will appear to His Church sometime before the rise of Antichrist and will remove them by a secret rapture (the "Morning Star" coming of Christ), and some years later (not less than seven) will return to the earth to deliver Israel (the "Sun of Righteousness" coming).


Even if this view were correct the promise will not mean the resurrection and rapture of all believers, for it is given to overcomers only, and the Seven Letters are swift witnesses that not every believer is overcoming, else there would be no reproofs of waning love, of fornication, lifelessness of profession, and of lukewarmness, on the part of the Lord's servants (Rev. 2: 20), nor would there be urgent calls to repentance and solemn warnings of chastisements for those He loves (Rev. 3: 19), but who are cold and defiled.


But the meaning attached to the figure employed is unwarranted.  The promise does not read, as it is above taken, "I will give him to see the morning star"; but simply, "I will give him the morning star."  In the same Sentence it has been said to the same overcomer "to him will I give authority over the nations" and this will not bear the insertion, "I will give him to see authority over the nations."


The true meaning is easily discerned by attention to the prophetic passage which pictures the Messiah by the figure of the star.


In Numbers 24: 17, the prophet exclaims :-


I see Him, but not now:

I behold Him, but not nigh:

There shall come forth a star out of Jacob,

And a sceptre shall rise out of Israel,

And shall smite through the corners of Moab,

And break down all the sons of tumult.

And Edom shall be a possession,

Seir also shall be a possession,

His enemies; Israel doeth valiantly.

And out of Jacob shall One have dominion,

And shall destroy the remnant from the city.


Here the coming of Messiah out of Jacob as a star is connected with His rising out of Israel as a rod, the two similes being but one picture, and as a rod He shall smite and break to pieces the enemies of Israel.  The word rendered "sceptre" is so translated only nine times, but "rod" in thirty-four places, and very notably in Psalm 2: 9: "Thou shalt break them (the nations) with a rod of iron."  In this place in Numbers where also smiting and breaking the nations is in question, "rod" is clearly the appropriate translation, and consistent with Isaiah 11: 4, "He (Messiah) shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth."


These promises of and to Himself the Lord graciously passes on to His faithful followers: "Howbeit that which ye have, hold fast till I come.  And he that overcometh, and he that keepeth My works unto the end, 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: and I will give him the morning star" (Rev. 2: 25-28).


Therefore Rev. 2: 27-28 refers, as does Numbers 24: 17, to Christ as the King of Israel rising to destroy His and their foes, the star being a figure of a heavenly ruler.  Whilst Israel's night is still utterly dark, indeed, at its very darkest hour, for the Beast seems just about to blot out Jerusalem, then Christ will rise as the morning star, the conquering ruler, and will destroy the foe.  This work of judgment upon the Beast will be speedy (Zech. 14: 12), but that upon the surrounding enemy nations will not be accomplished instantaneously, but will take a little time ere it is completed, for in part Israel themselves will perform it in the course of ordinary battle (Isa. 11: 14).  And by reason of the awful scourge of war Palestine will be a desert (Joel 1.), and there will be also widespread desolations in the earth (Psa. 46: 8) resulting from the judgments described in the Apocalypse.  But the work of vengeance having been presently completed by Christ as the rod and the star, He will then become the "sun of righteousness," by His beneficent activity causing fruitfulness and gladness to be again the portion of the godly (Mal. 4: 2).


This order of events is clearly seen in Malachi 4, for verse 1 describes the burning up of the wicked; and then the sun arises for them with "healing in his wings."  It is also found in Joel 2: 18-27, which first details the destruction of the armies of the Beast and then the blessing of the land and people.  So that the rising sun is not a picture of the actual advent, but of what Messiah becomes to Israel after the destruction of the wicked.


In the only two places in the New Testament where the figure is employed it is introduced in the same connection and order as has been observed in the Old Testament passages.  Rev. 2: 27 speaks first of the rod of judgment and the breaking of the nations therewith, and mention of the morning star follows.  So in Rev. 22: 16, the Lord first mentions that He is the "Root and the Offspring of David," that is, He is Israel's King, and then the figure of the morning star follows.  Had the meaning which we are refuting been the true, the order certainly should be the reverse; nor would there be expected any intimate connection of the shining of the star with the dashing to pieces of the nations, since the view in question separates these events by many years.


Thus the true meaning of the promise, "I will give him the morning star," is not that some saints will see Him coming for them some considerable time before His public advent, though even then, as has been remarked, it would apply only to some, the watching ones, and not to all; but the force of the promise has been well expressed by Trench (Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches, 155).


"A comparison with that other passage in this Book referred to already (22: 16), conclusively proves that when Christ promises that He will give to his faithful ones the morning star, He promises that He will give to them Himself, that He will impart to them his own glory and a share in his own royal dominion (Cf. 3: 21); for the star, as there has been already occasion to observe, is evermore the symbol of royalty (Matt. 2: 2), being therefore linked with the sceptre (Num. 24: 17).  All the glory of the world shall end in being the glory of the Church, if only this abide faithful to its Lord."


And this application of the figure of the morning star to the commencement of the Parousia at the close of the reign of Antichrist, and for his imminent overthrow, is entirely consistent with the Lord's own warnings that only the watchful of His people will be taken at that instant, and the rest will be left.  It is "to them that expect Him" (Heb.9:. 28) "that He will appear" as the Morning Star and it is surely significant that the promise of the gift of the morning star to the overcomer should be quickly followed by the warning to the defiled and unwatchful that "in no wise* shalt thou know what hour I will come upon thee" (Rev. 3: 3).  "That grand ancient proverb, which ascribed to the avenging deities feet shod with wool, 'Dii laneos habent pedes,' awfully expressed the sense which the heathen had of this noiseless approach of the divine judgments, of justice, as one called her of old),** oftentimes so near at the very moment when thought most remote" (Trench, Ibid., 166).


[* “ou me gives great precision and certainty to the (warning): there is no chance (ou) that he should know (me)" (Alford, Rev. 3: 3; 2: 11).]

**Opisthopous Dike, that is, justice that follows on foot = that tracks down.  Compare Paul's remark, "Some men's sins are evident, going before unto judgment; and some men also they follow after" (1. Tim. 5: 24).]


And so B. W. Newton, I find, taught : "There appears to be a considerable interval between the appearance of the Lord in destructive glory, and the period when He will be ‘inaugurated’ on Zion, and introduce the peaceful glory of the millennium ... there will ... intervene a period betwixt the destruction of Antichrist and his hosts, and the inauguration of Christ's glory on Zion - in which interval Israel's conflict with Gog and Magog and other enemies, will occur.  Christ's glory when He first appears to take His saints, and to deliver Israel, is symbolised by the Morning Star, which rises before the sun, whilst the earth is yet sunk in the deepest darkness of night. ... But when the hour comes for the peaceful glory of the millennium to be brought in, then the Lord is represented as the Sun arising with healing in His wings" (Prospects of the Ten Kingdoms, ed. 1873,350, note).






And old fable says that swift-footed Atlanta challenged her suitors to race her, with herself as prize or death as penalty.  Many competed, and lost their lives; until a certain Hippomenes, secreting on his person three golden apples, entered the contest.  Atlanta swiftly passed him, and he threw an apple: she, amazed, stopped to pick it up.  But again Hippomenes felt himself failing, and again he threw an apple; and a second time, caught by its glitter, Atlanta delayed to seize it, and fell behind.  Once again, as they neared the goal, and she was rapidly passing him, Hippomenes threw the last golden apple; and Atlanta, lured by its charm, swerved, and lost the race.  Three golden apples! - "the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life" (1 John 2: 16) - are sidetracking from their prize countless multitudes of the children of God.  "LET NO MAN ROB YOU OF YOUR PRIZE" (Col. 2: 18).