Sermon preached on November 27, 2011 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.
Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.
In Hollywood there's a street on which there are stars in the sidewalk, with the names of actors or singers who have made it big in the movie business. It's all about fame and success, about being important in the entertainment business.
In the eyes of the world those are the really important people. They're celebrities. They have influence. A lot of people want to be like them and imitate them.
The Christians at Thyatira knew nothing about that. They were considered unimportant in the world's eyes. The things that they did have—faith, showing love to others, working hard serving others and the Lord—that was little valued in Thyatiran society. The Christians there seemed to be missing out.
The great question is: Is serving the Lord worthwhile? If you just consider this life only the answer is often a resounding, "No." As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:19,
"If only for this life we have hope in Christ,
we are to be pitied more than all men."
But if you look past this life, you'll see that Jesus is going to greatly bless those who have served Him. In Revelation 22:12 He said,
"Behold, I am coming soon!
My reward is with me,
and I will give to everyone
according to what he has done."
To the faithful in Thyatira He mentioned two specific rewards, authority over the nations, and, the morning star. This morning we're going to look at the second of these. Jesus said, (Revelation 2:28)
"I will also give him the morning star."
Jesus promises the faithful the morning star.
What is the morning star? What is it's significance? Different ideas have been put forward and we're not really sure which one is correct. But in the Bible there are things associated with stars in general and the morning star in particular that point us in the right direction. We're going to look at some of these this morning.
The important thing to keep in mind in all this is that, not only is this great gift given to us by Jesus, but that ultimately He is the morning star. It is the gift of Himself.
Jesus is the morning star.
In Revelation 22:16 we read,
"I, Jesus, have sent my angel
to give you this testimony for the churches.
I am the Root and the Offspring of David,
and the bright Morning Star."
Any interpretation of the morning star must be seen in this light. Whatever it implies, it means that we will be with Him, that we will share in His life, in His work. He will be given to us. That is the main thing to keep in mind. You'll recall what Jesus said about His people in John 14:2-3,
"In my Father's house are many rooms;
if it were not so,
I would have told you.
I am going there to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back and take you
to be with me that you also
may be where I am."
To be given the morning star means to be given Jesus.
But what does this involve?
The first thing it means is that
it means those who overcome will be given glory.
Stars are often associated with glory. For example, Daniel 12:3 says,
"Those who are wise
will shine like the brightness
of the heavens,
and those who lead many to righteousness,
like the stars for ever and ever."
The morning star is the planet Venus. Although it's a planet and not a star the ancients referred to it as the morning star. It is the brightest star in the morning sky. Herman Hoeksema writes, (Behold He Cometh, p. 109)
"the morning star shines with greater splendor, is more obvious in brightness, than the other stars in the firmament. It is a star of special luster and glory."
Glory is associated with the morning star. In being given the morning star we will be brought close to Christ and will reflect His glory. Herman Hoeksema writes that those who overcome, (Behold He Cometh, p. 109)
"shall shine forth with distinguished glory in the eternal kingdom of God."
There are many verses that tell Christians that we will be made glorious. In Philippians 3:20–21 the apostle Paul wrote,
"But our citizenship is in heaven.
And we eagerly await a Savior from there,
the Lord Jesus Christ,
who, by the power that enables him
to bring everything under his control,
will transform our lowly bodies
so that they will be like his glorious body."
In Romans 8:18 he said,
"I consider that our present sufferings
are not worth comparing
with the glory that will be revealed in us."
And in 2 Corinthians 4:17 the apostle Paul assures Christians that,
"our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory
that far outweighs them all."
Those who overcome and do Jesus' will to the end will be given the morning star. They will become glorious. They will be like our great Savior.
In this regard I've always found Peter's mistake on the Mount of Transfiguration interesting. You'll remember that Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John. The Bible tells us that, (Matthew 17:2)
"His face shone like the sun,
and his clothes became
as white as the light."
Then Moses and Elijah appeared, and they were talking with Jesus. Peter said, (Mark 9:5–6)
"Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.
Let us put up three shelters
—one for you,
one for Moses and one for Elijah."
He didn't know what He was saying. But one of the things that is implied in the text is that Moses and Elijah were exceedingly glorious. All the glory there came from the Son of God. He was its source. Moses and Elijah had no glory except that derived from Jesus. In light of that, we would expect Peter to suggest that they put up one tabernacle, for Jesus. But it could very well be that Moses and Elijah were so glorious that that fact compelled him to suggest that three tabernacles but put up, one for each of them.
Christians, you who overcome, you who will do Jesus' will to the end—how glorious you will be. You will be given the bright morning star. You will be brought so close to Him that the words of Jesus in Matthew 13:43 will be fulfilled. He said,
"Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father."
The second thing we should understand about the morning star is that
it is the herald of a new day.
Not only will we be made glorious, but this glory will be related to heralding in a new dawn, a new age. David E. Aune tells us that the morning star, (Revelation 1–5 (WBC 52A; p. 212)
"was understood in ancient times as the herald of a new day."
One of the implications of that is that the saints are going to be given the privilege of ushering in the new age—the unveiling of the new heaven and new earth, wherein dwells righteousness. What an honor, what a privilege, what a blessing that will be.
Some of you know that I love Apple computers, phones and iPads. I used to love how Steve Jobs would unveil new Apple products. He'd get on the stage and talk about how products out there by other companies weren't that good and how he had something insanely great to show us. He'd tell you that what he was going to introduce was going to change the world for the better. For example, when he introduced the iPad last year he first talked about netbooks. In the previous months a lot of analysts had been telling Apple that they needed to make a netbook because they were very popular. But Jobs started his presentation by criticizing netbooks and said that they didn't do anything well. Jobs talked about how they were underpowered and had inferior screens so they weren't good to look at. Then he introduced the iPad and told you it was going to change the world. Sometimes he was right. Some of his products did change the world a bit.
A lot of people who give presentations have tried to copy Steve Jobs. He did such a good job of unveiling new products that they envied him and wanted to be like him.
Christians, you who overcome will be given the privilege and honor of being the herald of the new age.
Think of what is going to be replaced. This old world can be very good at times. We can all consider the blessings God has given us and be thankful for them. We can have family, friends, church, possessions, good health—at times this life can be wonderful. But that is only because of God's grace. Happiness and joy are not intrinsic to this age, to this fallen world. Sin has ruined it.
As good as this world can be, there's a dark side to it because of sin. Think of the family you love—one of them or all of them can be gone in an incident. This world is filled with tragedy. On Thanksgiving Day I read in the news how a mother in Arizona lost three children in a plane crash. They were on their way home. I also how a Clarkson student who was home for the Thanksgiving break was killed in a car accident near Rochester.
As good as this life can be, it's like that. Your world can came crashing down in seconds. Job knew that. He lost his possessions, his children, his health. Here, on this earth, a spouse can betray you. Here, sometimes bosses fire employees, not because they have done anything wrong, but because they have refused to do something unethical. This life can be so bad that it has been summed up in a pithy little saying,
"People are born, people suffer, people die."
The old age, with its sin, with its filth, with its horror, will be done away with and replaced by something so much better—better in every way. How wonderful that will be. In the new age there will be happiness, joy, contentment—that will never be taken away. It will never end. As Revelation 21:4 says,
"There will be no more death
or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things
has passed away."
The heralding of the new heaven and the new earth is going to be unlike the unveiling of anything else. After the Great Day of Judgment, a morning star will appear—and He will usher in a new age. We will be with Him then.
There are two passages in particular that show what this unveiling will be like. Both involve the saints being made glorious and being bright in the Kingdom of God. Neither mention the morning star and neither speak of them as being heralds of the new age—but it's interesting that both of them, after they describe the putting away of the old age, the old era of sin—they mention the brightness of the saints. That is one of the first things they say about the new age. It fits right in with them being given the morning star.
Consider first Matthew 13. When He explained the Parable of the Weeds Jesus said, (verses 37-43)
"The one who sowed the good seed
is the Son of Man.
The field is the world,
and the good seed stands
for the sons of the kingdom.
The weeds are the sons of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age,
and the harvesters are angels.
As the weeds are pulled up
and burned in the fire,
so it will be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send out his angels,
and they will weed out
of his kingdom everything
that causes sin and all who do evil.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be
weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine
like the sun in the kingdom
of their Father.
He who has ears, let him hear."
The righteous will shine like the sun. That's the first thing we are told about the new age. It's what the creation has been waiting for. As the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:19,
"The creation waits in eager expectation
for the sons of God to be revealed."
Their revealing will be with glory, the herald of the new age.
The second passage is similar. In Revelation 20 and 21 we read about the end of this old age and the new age that will replace it. Revelation 20 talks about the great judgment. It tells how Satan will be cast into the lake of burning sulfur where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. There they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Then the dead will be judged. John saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. Notice what happens next. It says, (verse 11)
"Earth and sky fled from his presence,
and there was no place for them."
We then read about the judgment and how if anyone's name was not found in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Then, we read about the revealing of the bride of Jesus Christ. Note how she is described. We read, (verses 9–11)
"One of the seven angels who had
the seven bowls full of the
seven last plagues came and said to me,
'Come, I will show you the bride,
the wife of the Lamb.'
And he carried me away in the Spirit
to a mountain great and high,
and showed me the Holy City,
Jerusalem, coming down
out of heaven from God.
It shone with the glory of God,
and its brilliance was like that
of a very precious jewel,
like a jasper, clear as crystal."
The idea here is that the faithful will be clothed with radiant glory, the glory of Jesus. The first glimpse of the new age, will be the unveiling of the bride of Christ. They will be given the morning star.
The third thing about the morning star is that
it is related to the glory of victory and ruling.
Craig Keener writes that the peoples of old ascribed two things of the morning star. He writes, (Revelation)
"Ancients emphasized the glory of the planet Venus, the 'morning star' (Sir. 50:6-7), and could apply the image to magnificent rulers (Isa. 14:12). Romans associated Venus with triumph and reign."
This is also a biblical theme. In Isaiah 14:12 Satan, before he fell into sin, was referred to as the morning star. This probably refers to his position as a glorious and magnificent ruler. It says,
"How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!"
The association between a star and ruling is also seen in Numbers 24:17-19. In Balaam's fourth oracle he said,
"A star will come out of Jacob;
a scepter will rise out of Israel.
He will crush the foreheads of Moab,
the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.
Edom will be conquered;
Seir, his enemy, will be conquered,
but Israel will grow strong.
A ruler will come out of Jacob
and destroy the survivors of the city."
Balaam saw a star emerging from Jacob, a scepter rising out of Israel to crush Moab and Edom. Dennis E. Johnson (Triumph of the Lamb, p. 82) says that the star-scepter "symbolized a warrior king" and that this warrior king identifies himself as Jesus in Revelation 22,
"I am the Root and the Offspring of David,
and the bright Morning Star."
Thus the morning star symbolized conquest and victory. David E. Aune writes, (Revelation 1–5 WBC 52A; Accordance/Thomas Nelson electronic ed. Dallas: Word Books, 1997), 212.
"The gift of the morning star must refer to the fact that the exalted Christ shares his messianic status with the believer who conquers."
As we read about the new age and the status of the saints in Revelation 22:5,
"There will be no more night.
They will not need the light of a lamp
or the light of the sun,
for the Lord God will give them light.
And they will reign for ever and ever."
Christians, look forward to your reward. Be thankful for it. Jesus is coming again. You will be given the morning star. You will share in His glory and His rule. Craig Keener writes,
"Jesus' promise to the church in Thyatira suggests that he will share not only victory in an abstract sense (2:26) but himself as the morning star with his people. (2:28)"
He brings His reward with Him—He will give you Himself. Dennis Johnson writes, (p. 82)
"Jesus promises his people not merely dominion but a better treasure, a deeper joy: himself.'"
Lastly, for those of you who are not Christians, the question is:
How can you get this reward?
It's essentially all of grace. Salvation is a free gift. So what you have to do is to go to Jesus. Ask Him to save you. Trust in Him. Then you have to overcome and do His will to the end. Yes, you have to work hard—but even that working is of grace. (1 Corinthians 15:10) Jesus is the bright and morning star. If you want hope to be free from the consequences of your sin, of your pollution, in other words, if you want glory—you need Jesus. If you want a part of ushering in the new age, you need Jesus. If you want to rule forever and ever in the new heavens and the new earth, you need Jesus. Go to Him. Do it today. You will be greatly blessed if you do.