Sometimes the biblical writers communicate higher than they know. They are saying issues and use items of images which can be profound and illuminating on their very own phrases however change into much more profound and illuminating as we be taught extra concerning the world.
Take, as an example, a well known passage from Psalm 8: “Once I think about your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the celebrities, which you could have set in place, what’s mankind that you’re conscious of them?” (vv. 3–4). Studying it at this time, we marvel that there are billions of occasions extra stars than David realized and that humanity is immeasurably smaller within the cosmos than he understood. Or think about John’s assertion that God is mild. We see extra layers to it than John ever fathomed: the vary of colours in white mild, the wave-particle paradox, the invisible reaches of the spectrum, and so forth.
One stunning instance is within the final chapter of Scripture, when John data Jesus saying, “I’m the Root and the Offspring of David, and the brilliant Morning Star” (Rev. 22:16). The primary half of that assertion is evident, albeit paradoxical. Jesus, as Isaiah had prophesied, is concurrently the product of the messianic line (“the Offspring of David”) and the supply of it (“the Root”). However the second half comprises depths of which John was solely unaware.
No one within the historical world might fail to spot the morning star. Its brilliance has made it a typical reference level in human historical past, from Sumerian fantasy to Greek poetry to Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night time. Because the brightest celestial physique within the sky after the solar and moon, the morning star was an apparent image for something or anybody that shone brighter than their companions. That’s how the picture seems elsewhere in Scripture, whether or not negatively (when describing the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14:12–15) or positively (when describing Christ in 2 Peter 1:19). John, in Revelation, clearly employs it on this latter sense.
He might have seen one thing else within the picture as effectively. By the point the New Testomony was written, educated Greco-Romans had been conscious that the morning star and the night star had been an identical: The primary star to look and the final to vanish had been one and the identical. Given how typically Jesus is described as bookending historical past in Revelation 22—Alpha and Omega, First and Final, Starting and Finish, Root and Offspring—John might have contemplated this connection too. Jesus isn’t just the brightest star within the firmament, however the star that’s current earlier than the others seem and after they’ve all receded.
What John didn’t know, nevertheless, is that the morning star is basically completely different from each different star within the evening sky. It’s product of rock, not gasoline. It displays the sunshine of the solar reasonably than producing its personal. Bodily talking, it’s extra like earth in its properties than the celebrities. At present, we name it the planet Venus.
On the similar time, John had no idea of the morning star’s stunning nearness relative to the remainder of the heavenly host. Varied fashions of the cosmos existed in his day, with various theories of how the solar, moon, planets, and stars match collectively. How a lot John knew about these we are able to solely speculate. However he scarcely might have imagined that the morning star was 175,000 occasions nearer than even the closest of the others.
Like Venus in relation to the celebrities, Jesus is totally not like all of the “gods” to whom folks examine him. Every thing else within the theological evening sky is distant, unmoved, and unmoving. The Morning Star, against this, is in a category of his personal. Not solely is he a lot brighter than his companions. Not solely does he open and shut the celestial symphony as each overture and finale. He’s not like them in his very essence, much like us in methods we nonetheless battle to imagine, and much, far nearer than we understand.
Exegetically, it’s often thought-about unhealthy kind to seek out meanings in texts that the unique creator didn’t intend. However then once more, each Scripture has two authentic authors—one divine and one human—and the speaker on this case is the Morning Star himself, the Creator of the heavens and every part in them: the Lord Jesus. Maybe there may be extra right here than we all know.
Andrew Wilson is instructing pastor at King’s Church London and the creator of God of All Issues.
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