The marvelous creation of God, which surrounds man on all sides, beneath and above, has a threefold purpose. It is first of all a great witness to the power, the wisdom and the glory of God. There is a revelation of God in all nature. "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse" (Rom. 1:20). "The heavens declare the glory of God" (Psa. 19:1). A second purpose is, that man, the creature and offspring of God, might enjoy the works of God. He is a poor Christian who does not appreciate a beautiful sunset, a babbling mountain stream, the dense woods with its manifold life, the seashore, and the star-lit heavens. All is for our pleasure. There is a third purpose of creation, that we might have through it illustrations of Divine Truths as given in the revelation of God.
The Holy Spirit, the author of the Bible, makes constant use of the created things about us. He speaks of trees, illustrating by them the state of the righteous, who is "like a tree planted by the rivers of water"; or nations, or proud rulers, who like the Babylonian king boast of their greatness (Dan. 4), or Israel as typified by the olive tree, the fig tree and the vine. Grass is used by Him to teach us the prosperity which God gives, and the frailty of human existence as well. Water, fountains of water, rivers of water, are prominent in both testaments, illustrating the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit, the water of life, in its cleansing and refreshing power. The flowers are frequently mentioned. Our Lord spoke of the lilies and their pure whiteness. Christ, in His character and in His glorious work, is often compared to the earthly things of nature. He is the Lily of the valley, the Rose of Sharon. He is both the Lamb of God, and the Lion of the tribe of Judah. In His strong service He is symbolized by the Ox, the burden bearing beast. And there are many other objects of nature and natural occurrences used to teach us lessons. The sea in its restlessness typifies the wicked and the restless nations. Morning and evening, the weather signs of the sky, the calm and the storm, and much else, is used to teach us lessons of divine Truths. And so it is with the heavens above, the unknown worlds, with their solar systems, the planets and the stars. There is in the heavens every morning a bright and glorious star, which from time immemorial has been called "The Morning Star." This Morning Star is to hold our attention in this study.
1. What is the Symbolical Meaning of the Morning Star?
There is also an Evening Star. It is the first sign that the Sun, who gave us light and heat during the day, is gone. Yet the twinkling of that brilliant star in the twilight sky is an evidence that the Sun still shines. The Evening Star heralds the approaching night.
The Morning Star likewise bears a witness to the Sun. When we behold it in the morning sky we know that the sunrise is not far away, that the night is far spent and soon the first rays of the dawn will appear. The Morning Star is the herald of the Sun. As a mighty king is preceded in his coming by a herald, who announces his coming, so the Morning Star heralds the soon appearing of the king of the sky.
The Sun is the symbol of our Lord Jesus Christ. The opening verses of the nineteenth Psalm are very suggestive. Here we read of the wonderful heavens that "in them hath He set a tabernacle for the Sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it, and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof."
Now compare this with our Lord. He has a tabernacle in the heavens into which He has entered. Not a tabernacle made with hands, but the eternal, heavenly dwelling place. He is as a bridegroom, who will receive the bride and then come out of his chamber with rejoicing. He will appear as the strong man to run the race and conquer all. He covers the heavens with His glory and then displays heat, the symbol of judgments.
We quote another passage in which the Sun is mentioned in the Old Testament. "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings, and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves in the stall" (Mal. 4:2). The context shows that this is spoken to the godly in Israel. The rising of the Sun of Righteousness "in that day" therefore means the coming of the Lord, so frequently revealed by the prophets, when waiting Israel will receive her fullest blessing and when Israel's enemies shall be consumed by fiery judgments. Then the night is ended, the morning in its fullest glory has come.
What then is the symbolical meaning of the Morning Star, arising before the Sun appears? It symbolizes also the coming of our Lord, but in a special sense, unknown in the Old Testament.
In the last chapter of the Bible our Lord speaks for the last time to man. Ere the book is finished, and God puts it into our hands to read, and to obey, we hear His voice once more. He bears witness to Himself. "I am the root and off-spring of David, the bright and Morning Star." How many times He used on earth the "I Am" to tell us of what He is for us. The door, the bread, the water, the way, the truth, the life, the shepherd and the light. And here is another "I Am." He calls Himself "The Morning Star," the bright star.
No sooner had He witnessed to Himself as the Morning Star than there comes forth an answer. Who answers? Not John, the beloved disciple, but the Holy Spirit. We read then "And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come." We know this is often applied in this way—"God wants the sinner to come and be saved. There are two voices which call to the unsaved to come: The Holy Spirit invites and also the Church, the Bride." There is an invitation in this verse which is addressed to the unsaved. It is found in the next sentences: "And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will let him take the water of life freely." But the first "come," by the Spirit and the Bride is not the "come" to the sinner, but it is the "come" of the Holy Spirit and the "come" of the waiting Bride addressed to Christ the Morning Star. The Spirit longs for Him as the Morning Star; the Bride longs for Him, as well. Both want to see the rising and twinkling of the Morning Star.
The Morning Star and its rise is symbolical of what happens before Christ comes as the Sun of Righteousness, before He comes in the fullness of His glory, before He comes with wrath, and with mercy also. It is His Coming as the Bridegroom to take His Bride, His blood washed Church, home to Himself. The Morning Star symbolizes His coming for His Saints. This aspect of His coming was not revealed in the Old Testament, that is why the Morning Star, as a type of His appearing is nowhere found in the sayings of the prophets. It is "that blessed Hope" which the Lord has left for His waiting, expecting Church, His Bride. The Morning Star in its rise brings the fulfillment of that unique and most precious revelation communicated unto us by the Lord through Paul His servant: "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:16,17).
2. When Will the Morning Star Appear? What Precedes His Advent?
Our second question is—when will this Morning Star appear? When will the Lord come to take home His waiting Bride? What precedes this wonderful coming of the Bridegroom?
Nature with its great laws teaches us something here. The great, for us incomprehensible Universe, is like a gigantic clock-work. It never gets out of order; it has never to be repaired; it never stops; it is never behind time and never in advance of time. It all moves with a precision which is the marvel of all marvels. There have been always a few who oppose what true science, the hand-maid of faith, has so fully demonstrated, that the planet on which we live is a globe and moves around the Sun. And there are other planets in our solar system who describe their great circles. Our earth has a Satellite, the Moon; others have several Satellites. But our system is only one of countless thousands found in the most distant, immeasurable constellations. But all moves like a clock on time, never too fast and never too late. Then think of those strange bodies, which we term "Comets." They become visible in our sphere from time to time. In the medieval ages they inspired fear, but now we have calculated their exact time of reappearing. We know some come back to us every fifty, or seventy-five, or three hundred years. They are always on the dot. What a Mastermind must control this wonderful machinery in nature! What a fool, the infidel, the atheist, the free-thinker and the evolutionist is, to say all this clock-work of nature came, and continues to work without a break, by itself!
And as it is in nature so it is in the realm of God's purposes. All is timed. Here, too, laws are at work which the finite mind cannot comprehend, laws which never fail, which are always right. When the appointed time arrived in God's schedule His blessed Son arrived on earth, born of a woman. And as the Morning Star in nature has its set time of appearing to twinkle in the morning sky, so God has set a time for the coming of Christ for His Bride, His Church.
Would it hasten the rising of the Morning Star if some scientists resolved to rush its appearing some morning? Neither could we hasten the coming of the Lord for us. We must await the time of God's clock of gracious purposes. When the hand reaches the right moment, the clock will strike and He will come.
What then precedes His Advent, the Advent of the Morning Star?
It is not preceded by world conversion. How strange it is that so many earnest Christians can hold this view, that before Christ can come the world must be converted, when there is not a line of Scripture for this view.
Nor is the Advent of the Morning Star preceded by that which occurs in the end of the present age. We mention first, the great tribulation. The teaching of Scripture is very plain on this. The great tribulation is never mentioned in connection with the Bride of Christ, but always is it found in connection with Israel and the unbelieving nations of the earth. In fact the great tribulation cannot become history as long as the Morning Star has not arisen, as long as the Bride has not been called home.
Nor is the rising of the Morning Star preceded by the manifestation of the Antichrist. Altogether too many Christians trouble themselves about the man of sin. We can read what the Bible has to say about this Masterpiece of Satan, but to speculate about his person, or invent fanciful theories about him, is never done under the guidance of the Spirit of God. The Antichrist does not precede the Morning Star.
Nor do we find in Scripture that those who wait and watch for the rising of the Morning Star are commanded to watch and wait for signs in the heavens or the earth, for new wars, earthquakes, famines and pestilences. We are to wait for Himself as the Morning Star, and not for signs.
Several months ago I had a sleepless night on the train. A sleepless night always means to me a prayerful night. I also pull up the shade in the Pullman to look into the heavens. That night when morning was approaching showed a sky with a heavy cloud bank of storm. The darkness was intense, as we say, it was pitch-black. No star was to be seen. But all at once a bright light appeared in the very midst of the dark mass of threatening storm clouds. I imagined that there must be nearby an elevation and that someone had turned on an electric light. But soon I discovered it was the Morning Star. It twinkled for a few moments and then it was gone and covered by the advancing storm. And so it will be some day. We are living in the night of a passing age. It is getting darker. A big storm is brewing. But suddenly, some day, unheralded by signs, the Morning Star will shine forth and the praying, expecting watchers will see it, and then "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" we shall meet the Bridegroom.
3. What the Rising of the Morning Star Will Mean
It will mean the greatest glory for the redeemed people of God and it will mean the beginning of the greatest woe for the world. But who is sufficient to describe what it will mean for us? We can but stammer out a few things. Even the highest imagination will miss the mark.
It will mean the redemption of our bodies. Such a redemption is a part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That which was sown in corruption, put into the ground, will be raised in incorruption; that which is mortal, our death-doomed bodies, will put on immortality. Some will be unclothed and then will receive their resurrection bodies. We who shall see the twinkling of the Morning Star will be overclothed. What that resurrection body will be which we receive by His mighty power, no Saint knows at this time. It will be far above our thinking and our understanding. It will be a body like unto His own glorious body. What He is in His glorified humanity we shall be also.
It will mean our glorious meeting with Him, to see Him as He is. Peter wrote to his fellow believers: "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." How much do we know of this in our actual experience? Perhaps very little. Yet it should be so as Peter writes. We have never seen Him, yet we love Him. Only the Holy Spirit can give such a love and maintain it in our hearts. We do not see Him now, yet we believe and rejoice in Him, in His fellowship, in His love, in His graciousness, with joy unspeakable and full of glory. But what will it be when we shall see Him in His matchless glory, when the present limitations are done away with! We shall see Him in all His glory. We shall behold His essential glory, the glory which He had with the Father before the world was. We shall see Him in His acquired glory, the glory which He received from the Father as a reward for having been the sin-bearer.
The Rising of the Morning Star will mean the possession of our possessions. Our possessions are in the heavenlies. All that is His shall be ours. What He said on earth in His prayer, we shall say in heaven in His presence, "What is Thine is Mine." We are fellow heirs with Him and the Heirs of God. This vast, unsearchable inheritance will be ours when the Morning Star appears.
It will mean Rest and Reward for our service. Here again we are limited by our present knowledge and understanding. We still look into a glass darkly in all these things. But what a change the Morning Star experience will bring, when we shall know as we are known. All our Christian service will be reviewed then and nothing will be left unrewarded. But what that reward will be, in what it will consist we do not know. Yet this we know, it will be glorious.
The Morning Star will mark the beginning of the eternal fellowship with God and with all the Saints. What a fellowship that will be! To enjoy the fullest bliss with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Son of God whose eternal love and sacrificial death has lifted us so high, and with the Holy Spirit whose power and guidance kept us all in a world of sin and suffering. Then we shall know the fullest meaning of the Cross, and our glorified lips shall burst forth in never ending praise. And in that eternal fellowship with God, which can never be broken, we shall pass from glory unto glory, and we shall at last understand what it means that in never ending ages He displays the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7). The eternal purpose in Christ Jesus will then be fully realized.
But do not forget the next precious thing, the fellowship of the Saints. All our loved ones who died in the Lord will be there and we shall meet with them, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters and all others. Natural relationships will no longer exist, yet we shall know each other. The mystery of infants who passed on to be with Christ will be solved. Many a mother asked the question "Will my babe, which was so suddenly snatched out of my caring, sheltering arms, to find a better resting place in His arms—will my babe still be a babe, or will my little one meet me fully developed?" Who knows? Not I! But they will be with us.
Widen the circle! We shall meet for eternal fellowship all the Saints. What a mighty host they are! We shall meet Adam and Eve, our first parents. They went to glory the same way we all reached the goal. They believed and were saved by grace. The thousands upon thousands who believed in Old Testament times are found among the redeemed. We shall meet the patriarchs. We shall become acquainted with Joseph, Moses and Aaron, with Joshua and Samuel, David and Jonathan. Beautiful Ruth will be there and Hannah and Deborah. We shall walk in white with the prophets. And to think of it, we shall meet the twelve Apostles and Paul! Here are all the martyred hosts bearing their beautiful crowns. The Saints of every century will greet us all. What a joy it will be to meet Tauler and Suso, these forerunners of the Reformation, martyred Savonarola and Huss. Here is Martin Luther, and how he shines in glory! The martyred Bishops and the host of others of the English and Scotch Reformation will seek our fellowship and we theirs. And what more shall I say of the Wesleys, Whitefield, John Newton, William Cowper, Thomas Chalmers, Charles Spurgeon, D. L. Moody, Wilbur Chapman, A. T. Pierson, C. I. Scofield, R. A. Torrey, and the thousands of others. What a glorious fellowship it will be!
All this and much more the Morning Star will mean. Yet we have only spelled the ABC.
4. What Follows the Rising of the Morning Star
The Sun, of course, arising in all its glory. But in nature the Sun does not follow the Morning Star at once. There is a fixed time between the two. It just takes so many hours and minutes and seconds, after the Morning Star has appeared for the Sun to arise. And so it is in God's dispensational dealings. There is a fixed time between the rising of the Morning Star and the appearing of the Sun of Righteousness, between His coming for the saints and His coming with His saints. Scripture tells us the time will be twice three years and a half, seven years in all. Scripture gives us the detail of what follows the rising of the Morning Star, the coming of Christ as the Bridegroom.
1. There comes the full manifestation of the mystery of iniquity. Paul tells us that it was at work in his day. It has been at work throughout this age. Satan has always opposed the truth of God, the Gospel of Christ and the person and work of Christ. The mystery of iniquity is working in our days, perhaps as never before. Satan is getting ready for his great stroke. He is going to head up all iniquity in the man of sin, the final Antichrist. When the Church has had her Morning Star experience, the world and the world-Church will have to face the man of sin.
2. The great tribulation will then be instituted. It will be Satan's work, and God permits it as a judgment upon the world which has rejected His Son. The storm center of that tribulation will be Jerusalem, yet all the earth will be affected by it. It will come upon all the earth-dwellers, and great darkness and upheavals politically, morally and socially will result.
3. During these seven years the judgment of the Lord will sweep over the earth. These judgments were seen by the prophets in the Old Testament, but they are fully revealed in the last book of the Bible, the Revelation. The Lord Jesus Christ receives from His Father's hands the seven sealed book, written within and without. He breaks the seals; the seven angels appear sounding their trumpets, and seven more angels, which pour out the vials of wrath upon the earth. These are all the judgments from above. But they can never happen as long as the Bride of Christ is here, for He has assured all His own that they shall not come into judgment.
4. Then follows the Visible Manifestation of Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Now He appears as the Sun of Righteousness. His glory will cover the heavens and the glory of the natural sun will pale in His glorious presence. He comes to smite the earth, to demolish as heaven's stone, Gentile world dominion. The armies gathered before Jerusalem are defeated by the glory-flash from above. But He also comes with healing in His wings. In wrath mercy will be remembered.
5. He will dethrone the god of this age, the prince of this world. The heel of the seed of the woman will now crush the serpent's head. He, who has defeated him so completely, will put him into the pit of the abyss. He can no longer seduce the nations to idolatry, nor can he spread his vicious denials of the Christ of God, nor mass armies to take up war. War and all unrighteousness is dethroned and righteousness and peace enthroned.
6. Then follows the establishment of the Kingdom on earth, after the judgment of the nations. It will not be a spiritual kingdom, but a literal kingdom. It will have a capital, Jerusalem. In it will stand the throne of David. From here the righteous government of the entire earth will be conducted, not in the form of autocracy, or monarchy, or the rule by the people and for the people, but it will be a theocracy. Then nations learn war no more; spears are turned into pruning books and swords into plowshares. A thousand years of blessing and glory follows.
Copied for WholesomeWords.org from Meat in Due Season: Sermons, Discourses and Expositions of the Word of Prophecy by Arno C. Gaebelein. New York: Arno C. Gaebelein, Inc., [19--?].
Selections from Meat in Due Season