THE MORNING STAR
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
And shall smite through the corners of
And break down all the sons of tumult.
Seir also shall be a possession,
And out of Jacob shall One have dominion,
And shall destroy the remnant from the city.
the coming of Messiah out of Jacob as a star is connected with His rising out
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
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
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
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).]
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
old fable says that swift-footed