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Names of Jesus
“Bright and Morning Star”
Today, in the Catholic Church and some Protestant churches they are celebrating “Epiphany Sunday.” It celebrates the visit of the Wise Men to see the baby Jesus. The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek and means “manifestation,” and this celebration is about the manifestation of God in human form.
What led these Wise Men to Jesus was also an epiphany, another manifestation, a star.
Historically the stars have defined and have been an important part of human civilizations in their religious practices as well as for guidance, both spiritual and physical. The motion of the stars in the night sky helped to create calendars, and regulate planting seasons.
Astronomy, the study of the heavens, may be the most ancient of the sciences. The creation of astrological signs came from early astronomers. It was believed by most ancient civilizations that observing the movement of the stars and planets could help to predict future events.
Therefore, in ancient days, especially in the Middle East, astrology and astronomy were combined. The Wise Men from the Christmas story were those who studied both.
Today we know stars as spherical astronomical objects consisting of plasma. The nearest star to the earth, and the one that gives and sustains life upon our planet, is called the Sun. It is not without significance then that Jesus is the Son of God, and as such is known as the Bright and Morning Star.
As He is finishing up His revelation to the Apostle John, Jesus said,
“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 Bright and Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:16 NKJV)
As the Root and Offspring of David, Jesus directly references the promise of the coming Messiah as to who He would be, and that He would be both King and Lord as seen in the what the prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, said.
“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord … And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:1-2, 10 NKJV)
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jeremiah 23:5-6 NKJV)
But Jesus goes on and then says that He is also “the Bright and Morning Star.” Notice Jesus didn’t refer to Himself as a star, or a morning star, but “the” bright and morning star.
In Biblical times and early astronomy, the “Morning Star” was the brightest star in the eastern sky just prior to the dawn. Today, we know that this isn’t a star at all, but the planet Venus.
The word “planet” is derived from the word meaning, “to wander,” and was attached to what the ancients saw in the night sky because of their apparent motion, unlike the stars that were fixed. Therefore ancient astronomers referred to them as “wandering stars”
The Star that Jesus references, which we know now as the planet Venus, reveals both aspects of Jesus’ coming. The first being when Jesus came the first time and thus references prophecy fulfilled.
A Prophecy fulfilled: The Morning Star
In our signature verse, Revelation 22:16, Jesus calls himself, “the Bright and Morning Star.” This was to fulfill a prophecy, given back in the Old Testament by the prophet Balaam, Numbers 24:17.
Venus arises in the eastern sky in the early morning hours while it is still dark. Not long thereafter the sun will rise announcing the dawning of a new day.
This Morning Star is then the promise of a new day, and for those who live in darkness and have no hope for the future wondering what’s the point of living and wandering through life, Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star, brings that hope.
This was the purpose of the coming Messiah as foretold by the prophets.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2 NKJV)
And so Jesus represents the dawning of a new day, or the “DaySprings,” the place from which a new day springs forth.
The prophecy of the coming Messiah being such a star, which is probably what the Wise Men meant when they asked King Herod, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:2 NKJV)
The Wise Men, or Magi as they were also called, would have been very familiar with the prophecy given by Balaam who was one of their own. Balaam was a Gentile prophet of God who lived in Mesopotamia along the Euphrates River. And so they would have been familiar with his writings and prophecies.
This prophecy came when Balak, king of Moab, paid Balaam to curse Israel, but instead he ended up blessing them, and from this blessing came the prophecy of the coming Messiah.
“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel,” (Numbers 24:17 NKJV)
Venus, the Morning Star, brought hope of the coming day to replace the darkness of night. This is then a beautiful picture of the coming Messiah as that Bright and Morning Star, the fulfillment of prophecy bringing hope to all those who live in the darkness.
The darkness I’m speaking about refers to so much more than sin, which is without a doubt a whole lot, but there are so many living in the darkness of their emotions. They’ve been saddened by life’s burdens and grief, and the darkness of the night has covered their soul.
But Jesus said that whoever believes in Him would never abide, that is, remain in darkness, John 12:46.
The Apostle Peter put the finishing touches on this saying,
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19 NKJV)
But this is not all, as Peter alludes to, for you see the Morning Star is also the Evening Star, which refers to the second aspect, or the second coming of Jesus.
A Prophecy yet to be fulfilled: The Evening Star
Just a Venus is the morning star, so it is also the Evening Star.
As day comes to an end, the sky begins to darken in the western sky, and Venus, the Evening Star, would rise.
Just as the Morning Star would give hope of the dawning of new day, so the Evening Star would give hope that while things may get dark, they won’t be dark forever.
The Evening Star speaks then of the prophecy yet to be fulfilled.
When Jesus would leave this earth He talked about how life wouldn’t be a bed of roses. He said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19 NKJV)
But Jesus promised that He will return. Wanting to waylay our fears Jesus lets us know that He was leaving so that He could prepare a place for us in heaven, giving us this promise.
“I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3 NKJV)
In our signature verse, Revelation 22:16, Jesus called Himself the Bright and Morning Star. But note that this was given at the end of the time of Tribulation. And so the Bright and Morning Star will come again, which is the promise of the Evening Star.
When Jesus came the first time He was the Bright and Morning Star that put an end to the darkness of night as spoken of by the prophets.
But He also promised that He will come again which is the promise of the Evening Star and will bring with Him everlasting light and an everlasting day, making all other light unnecessary where there will be no need to sun, or moon, or stars above. (We’ll look at this reality in a moment)
Just as the same star is the beginning and the end of the day, Jesus is the beginning and end of our faith as the writer of Hebrews foretold saying He is the author and finisher of our faith, Hebrews 12:2.
And Jesus said at the beginning and end, that is, chapters one and twenty-two of the book of Revelation, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
And so, not only is Jesus the Bright and Morning Star that brings us hope at the dawning of a new day in our lives, He is also the Evening Star bringing hope that once this day ends, He’ll be there for us.
Jesus actually talks about in another name or description of Himself, and that is being the Light of the World.
The Light of the World
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NKJV)
Jesus is not only the light of the world, but He is also the light of life. And this life is not only spiritual life, which is what we are most concerned about today, but He is also the light that brings physical life as well.
Consider the very beginning of creation. God said, “Let there be light.” (Genesis 1:3) But the question is, “What exactly was that light?” We know it brought forth life because on the third day God brought forth vegetation upon the earth.
So the light that helps grow and sustain vegetation, or the photosynthesis process, is the light that comes from our sun. But here’s the problem, the sun was not created until the fourth day. So what was the light? Let me submit that it was none other than Jesus Christ, the light of the world.
How do I know this? Let’s take a look at God’s word, which we are told is a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path, Psalm 119:105.
Talking about the end of days the prophet Isaiah gives us this insight.
“The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; but the Lord will be to you an everlasting light.” (Isaiah 60:19 NKJV)
But can we say without hesitancy that this is Jesus, the Son of God, the 2nd person of the Godhead?
At this time, which is spoken of by Isaiah,that is, in the end of times, this is what the Apostle John saw.
“The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” (Revelation 21:23 NKJV)
And so the “Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world,” is “the light of the world.” And we see in Him the light that brings both spiritual and physical life.
In our remaining time together, I’d like to look at several qualities of light that can shed light on Jesus’ mission and purpose.
Our eyes are immediately drawn to light. When we enter a dark room and if there is a lamp that is turned on, or candle that is lit, our eyes are immediately drawn to them. If a bolt of lightning flashes across the night sky, our eyes are immediately drawn to it.
Isaiah, when speaking about the coming Messiah, said the same thing in the Scripture we looked at a moment ago.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2 NKJV)
The Messiah is going to light up the world when He comes, and all who live in this sin darkened world will sit up and pay attention. In other words, people are going to be attracted to His light.
Consider the timing and the conditions surrounding Jesus’ birth. He attracted a whole lot more attention than anyone would have thought.
• His parents were poor, and no one really notices a child being born to poor parents.
• He was born in a stable in a small insignificant town called Bethlehem. In fact, He wasn’t even born in in the town, but rather on the outskirts.
• He was born at night when everyone is sleeping, and
• He was born over 1400 years before the printing press, and 1900 years before TV or the Internet, so who was ever going to notice.
God, however, set in heaven a divine light to announce His presence to the world.
When Jesus began His ministry, He attracted a whole lot of attention. Actually, He became the center of attention as large crowds followed Him to hear Him and be healed.
And when His light is shone upon the darkness of people’s sin, they’ll start paying attention, even thought they may not always like what they see.
Today Jesus is still attracting attention. He is that irresistible light that draws people out of spiritual darkness and into the light of life, the true light of God that gives true life.
Why are romantic dinners only at night by candlelight? It’s because we look a whole lot better. Our flaws, wrinkles, and hair loss are not as noticeable. Darkness conceals the real. Jesus, however, said darkness isn’t our friend.
“For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:20 NKJV)
Ever notice that most crimes are done at night under the cover of darkness? Jesus pointed this out to those coming to arrest Him. He asked why they didn’t arrest Him during the day? And then said it was because they loved the darkness more than the light.
Whenever we try to conceal our sin we escape into darkness. That’s why so many people run away from Jesus Christ. It’s because His light exposes their sin. This was part of the purpose of His coming; that His light would reveal humanity’s true condition.
Being sinful we love the cover of darkness, but once exposed to the light of Jesus we are never content to walk in darkness again. And even though we sometimes slip back into our old ways and habits, there’s still within us the light of Jesus, revealing the truth, and bringing us back to Him.
Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness of this world and the darkness of our souls to bring everlasting life to all who will believe.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved…And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:17,19 NKJV)
As the light of the world, Jesus attracts and exposes. Lastly, as the light, Jesus guides us on our way.
Just as a lighthouse guides ships through dark and dangerous waters, so does the light of Jesus guide us through the darkness of this world. Jesus came to give our lives direction.
Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, prophesied of the coming Messiah that He came…
“To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:79 NKJV)
Going back to the verse we look at, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NKJV)
Jesus spoke these words during the Jewish feast of Tabernacles when the Jews were remembering their 40 years of wandering through the wilderness. Further, as He spoke these words they were remembering when the Lord protected and led them as the pillar of fire.
Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. Today, just as the sun is the physical light of the world, He is the spiritual light. He is our point of reference by which we map out our lives. Further, He is not just “a” point of reference, He is “the” point of reference by which we live.
Right now, however, we are living in-between.
In Between the Evening and Morning Star
Since we are living in-between the evening and morning star, what is our purpose, what should we be doing?
As Christians we are also lights in the world. Jesus, the Light of the World, said that His followers are to be light-bearers reflecting His light.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NKJV)
Jesus is the light, we only reflect His light, much like the moon reflects the light of the Sun.
In a way we are moonlight, that is, we are reflecting the light of the Son, Jesus Christ. And while we are in this time of darkness waiting for the return of Jesus, we are to shine His light, attracting others, exposing the darkness of sin, and helping them find their way.
Life is filled with heartache and sorrow, disappointments and despair, but a new day will dawn, but only when we allow the Bright and Morning Star, Jesus Christ, into our hearts. Then will dawn a new day, an eternal one, where there will be no more need of the sun, moon, or stars, because the light of the world, the bright and morning star, will shine.
The Psalmist says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 NKJV)
While there is grief and sorrow in this life, what we are assured of is that it won’t last forever, and the dark night of the soul will eventually give way to joy.
Jesus Christ is the light and hope of a new day. He is the Bright and Morning Star.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study