I am not afraid of the dark so much as I am of what is in that dark. I make the room as dark as it can be while I am sleeping, and I experience no fear of that dark. I like the theater to be dark when Alean and I are watching a movie, and that does not frighten me – though the movie content may do so.
It is not the dark that concerns me, but rather what might be lurking around the corner or behind the bush, using the darkness to enhance its cover.
If I am not in a circumstance that requires low light, I much prefer the brightness of the daytime, with the sun smiling down on me, warming me through to the bone.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, a bright, sunny day is something to be cherished and celebrated. I have been known to proclaim, “In Northwest Washington, we do not disrespect the yellow ball!” We do not ever complain about the sunlight because we can go for months without seeing it..
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” – Revelation 22:16, ESV
We see a number of identities tied to the Lord Jesus in the closing chapter of the Revelation to John. He is the one who is “coming quickly,” or coming soon, and he is bringing his reward with him (Revelation 22:7, 22:12). He is called “the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets” in Revelation 22:6. He is called “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end in Revelation 22:13. He is called “the root of David” in Revelation 22:16, above.
All of these characterizations are fascinating, with each warranting its own deep exploration and enjoyment. There is a certain comfort and assurance attached to such depictions.
However, the one that intrigues me this morning is the one in which Jesus is called “the bright and morning star.” To get a bit more literal, the “and” is not present in the original text, thus it reads more properly, “I am the bright morning star.”
Most scholars believe (and I tend to agree) that this is a reference to Venus, perhaps the brightest light in our sky next to the sun. Venus is one of the most recognizable planets in the sky, visible with the naked eye, even when the sun has risen. Though not a star, early astronomers referred to Venus as “the morning star” because it typically appeared in the eastern sky around 4:00am just prior to the sunrise and again just before dusk in the west..
In Numbers 24:17, the prophet Balaam was prophesying, and he said of Jesus, “A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel,“
At the birth of his son, John (the baptist), Zechariah sang a song wherein he said of Jesus, “because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven” (Luke 1:78).
It was a star that led the Magi to Jesus when he was about two years old. “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him” (Matthew 2:2).
Seafarers have navigated by the stars for millennia because the stars provide reliable points of reference. Just as mariners navigate by those stars, and just as travelers know East because of the bright morning star and West because of the evening star, and just as the Magi knew the location of Jesus because of “his star,” we have our point of reference in Jesus, our bright morning star.” We navigate through life by looking to him.
Venus is unique, something of an oddball planet. It is not the closest to the sun, but it is the hottest planet in our solar system. Another oddity is that the planet Venus experiences a “retrograde rotation,” meaning it rotates in a way causes the sun to rise in the west and set in the east.
Venus is unique, just as Jesus, our bright morning star, is unique. Jesus is not merely a point of reference for us in a dark age. He is the point of reference, the light shining in the darkness that the darkness cannot overcome (John 1:5). The bright morning star, Jesus, brings the promise of a new day, new beginnings.
For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. – 2 Corinthians 4:6, ESV
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. – Hebrews 1:3a, ESV
And on that day, we won’t even need the sun.
And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. – Revelation 21:23, ESV