Sure and certain starlight

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We just finished a series on Revelation at church recently by reflecting on Jesus’ bold but seldom discussed statement, “I am the bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16). The speaker, Darrell Johnson, convinced me that this tiny statement is a powerful and important truth for today. In the midst of the darkness and confusion that seems to mark our lives both corporately and individually, the starlight that speaks of dawn is what we so desperately need. Apparently the morning star appears in the sky when the night is at its darkest, about 2 or 3 o’clock, when there is still a way to go till the sunrise. However, it speaks powerfully into the darkness, telling the truth that, despite the depth of the darkness, morning is indeed on its way. It is now only a matter of time before the morning star will most certainly pull the morning in behind it. Darrell felt that Jesus was using this image to tell us something crucial about the sure and certain nature of His coming kingdom. Seeing Jesus, the light in the darkness, is enough for us. We do not need to fear the night any more because His kingdom will surely follow His own arrival, as sure as the dawn follows the darkest night.

Political unrest seems to have become our new normal; the Presidential elections in America have revealed fear and uncertainty that seems mirrored in the Brexit movement and the newly hung parliament of Australia. We watch on and are unsure just how the Middle East will move forward, will heal. We watch as environmental disaster seems inevitable without enormous change in consumer mentality and the western understanding of freedom. It feels dark, oppressive and hopeless at times. Instead of despairing though, with Abram, God calls our eyes upwards. “’Do not be afraid … I am your shield, your very great reward … Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them’” (Genesis 15:1-5). See what I have done, trust what I am doing. The morning will come, because, there, you see – the morning star is shining, though faintly, through the darkness. Abram was called to look, to look up, to look up and trust, in spite of fear, in spite of what was happening around him.

I know that the cry of my heart often ends up similarly to that of the Psalmist – “Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger with held his compassion?” (Psalm 77:8-9). We look out at the night sky and can not see how it fits with the God we know, with the kingdom we long for. We lose hope as we feel the darkness crushing in. There is another old man though, and he teaches us the unspoken answer to the Psalmist’s questions; ‘No!’. Like Abram, he too was waiting, waiting for the restoration, the consolation of Israel, Luke 2:25 tells us. But as the baby Jesus was brought to the temple, Simeon knew he did not have to wait any longer. He knows that seeing Jesus, even as a tiny child all wrapped up and cradled in his mother’s arms, was enough. Simeon does not need to see any more – he knows that in that little person he has seen God’s salvation; “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of … Israel” (Luke 2:32). Simeon’s trust in God’s rescue plan was complete and I imagine, that like Abram, it was “credited … to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

Yes, the darkness is at times very deep, but “we see Jesus” (Hebrews 2:9) and so we know that the morning, His kingdom, is sure as the dawn.

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