"The Bright and Morning Star."

T. H. Reynolds.

Christian Friend vol. 18, 1891, p. 116.

The book of Revelation gives us the prophetic record of the closing up of the history of this world as the platform on which the ways of God in time have been worked out. It speaks of the accomplishment of the mystery of God (Rev. 10:7), the ushering of the time-state into eternity. It has been said of this time-state, that it is "a divine parenthesis in the midst of eternity." The eye of man naturally can only look at the condition of things in which as a creature he is set. Hence we read, in Ecc. 3:11, "He hath set the world in their hearts," that is, this time epoch (aion), "so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from beginning to end." God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev. 21:6), while man lives in a state of things by nature where there is a time for every purpose under heaven. God in His goodness uses the travail which belongs to such a state to exercise the sons of men in it; but there is a moment coming when the mystery of God, which from beginning to end He has been working out through this time-state, will be finished. "What God doeth it shall be for ever," and the words, "It is done" (Rev. 21:6), tell us that time is no more. It is God's for ever - eternity.

There is another parenthesis which we must also consider, not now the parenthesis of time in the midst of eternity, but a parenthesis in the history of this world, and of man in it as the subject of the direct dealings of God. It exists during the period in which the Lord Jesus Christ is hidden in the heavens at the right hand of God. The direct course of God's dealings with the world in succeeding dispensations has been interrupted. In order to Christ's taking the inheritance, not only over the earth, but over all things according to the purpose of God, it was needful that the joint heirs who are to reign with Him should be gathered out while He is hidden in the heavens. A heavenly, glorious Christ is theirs. The saints of this parenthesis know Him in that character by the power of the Holy Spirit sent down from the glory where He is. They wait not for His return to earth - then they reign as joint heirs with Him - but for the moment of their gathering to Him in the heavens. They wait for Himself. The peculiarity of their relationship to this heavenly Christ is, that He will present them to Himself as His bride. It is true they will reign with Him. They will be manifested in glory as the sons of God, and into the liberty of that glory the groaning creation will yet be delivered. They form part too of the heavenly court and temple, kings and priests, as we see in Revelation 4 and Revelation 5; but besides these heavenly offices they stand in the closest relation to the exalted Man. They form the assembly, His body, of which it is said, He loved the church, and gave Himself for it … that He might present the church to Himself glorious. (Eph. 5:25.) All the sin and shame of the first man is gone in the death unto which He delivered Himself up for the church, and she has been formed in the new and heavenly man by the sanctifying power of the truth, so that she might be according to Himself, holy and blameless. There is another joy which belongs to the saints who in this period of His rejection believe on Him while hidden in the heavens. They will be with Him where He is according to His own desire, and behold His glory as the eternally loved One of the Father; and thus, sweet as will be their own relationship to Him, and blessed to reflect His glory, it will be infinitely greater than our own blessing to enter into what He whom we love is to the Father. To be in glory like Him will enable us to behold His glory.

We shall not catch the force of the expression, "I am the bright and Morning Star," unless in some measure we enter into this peculiarity of our relationship as the assembly to a heavenly and glorious Christ while He is hidden in the heavens before He arises upon this world as the Sun of righteousness. The Lord had said (John 16:7) that His going away would be profitable to His disciples because He would send the Comforter to them. His departure, and the consequent cessation of their knowing Him after the flesh, prepared the way for the Comforter to come and announce to them the truth connected with the new and glorious position into which He had entered. The Holy Spirit when He came would take of His things, the things of the Father into which He was now going, and announce to them. Sorrowful as His departure out of this world was to the disciples, it was better for them, for they would henceforth know Him in this heavenly character. In John 17:19 He adds, "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." They were now to be sanctified in this special and peculiar way by the truth of the Lord taking a place apart from the earth, sanctifying Himself in the heavens with the Father where He was going. The saints of the present period, those who believe "through their word," share the heavenly fellowship of the early disciples as sanctified in the power of the same truth, even as they will be perfected into one in the glory.

While the moral elements of the truth which sanctifies the saints now are thus given by John, to Paul was committed the special intelligence, as well as the administration, of the mystery in which, during this parenthesis, was revealed that Jew and Gentile were "joint heirs, a joint body, and joint-partakers of His promise in Christ," a promise outside of all dispensation, and which could only be made known when Christ, as Head over all things to the Church His body, was set down at God's right hand in the heavenly places. There is not a glory given to Christ as Man which He will not share with us (His own glory as the Son of course excluded). Will He reign? We shall reign with Him. Will He be a Priest upon His throne? We form part of the priestly family; but the peculiarity of the assembly's relationship to Him, is, that by the Holy Ghost sent down she is united to the risen and glorified Man. The assembly is the object of the love of Christ while He has been rejected by the world, and while sitting in patience at God's right hand. The love He has to it is a special love, and, in accordance therewith, He cleanses and sanctifies it in the power of His own present separation to God in the heavens.

The Lord presents Himself in many characters in the book of Revelation. In the beginning of the book, He is the Faithful Witness, the Firstborn from the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth, and as such sends greeting to the responsible assemblies on earth. It is the privilege of the Church to have intelligence, and enter into the various glories and offices of the Lord Jesus Christ; but what calls forth her praise and adoration is, that she knows Himself in His love to her. "To Him that loveth us." Between this first communication and the close of the book other characters are mentioned. He is the Lamb in the midst of the throne, who, spite of all the working of Satan in the earth, has redeemed a people for God out of all the sin and ruin. Then there are His mysterious angelic characters. He holds the seal of the living God. As Angel-priest He gives efficacy to the prayers of saints. He claims the sea and earth for God. Then, as Son of man, He reaps the harvest of the earth, and, though in angelic guise, He treads the winepress of the wrath of God. Further, He comes forth out of heaven as the Warrior Judge, with His many titles and many crowns; and lastly He is seen as Judge upon the throne of God, closing up the whole record of sin and death in the lake of fire for ever. These wonderful characters belong to Him who is the Alpha and Omega of the ways of God. The book which is the word of God and the testimony of Jesus closes with the announcement, that He whose testimony it was would quickly come, and the scene of responsibility would terminate by the final settlement of the question of good and evil. The unjust and filthy would remain so, and the righteous and holy would be still the same.

But there is another character in which He makes Himself known to the Church. He who is the Root and Offspring of David, and therefore the Fountain and Source of all blessing for the earth, reveals Himself at the close of the book in the character which belongs to the Bride. He is "the Bright and Morning Star." And now it is not the Lord telling His servants that He is coming, or sustaining the faithful with the promise of it; but the voice of the Spirit in the Church responds to His announcement by saying, "Come?" This heavenly character of Christ is peculiarly the Bride's. The Lord wants us to respond also. Do we hear Christ thus speaking? Do we hear the Bride, as moved by the Spirit, instantly recognising that Jesus, as the Morning Star, belongs to her - the Object of her affection and hopes? Then let him that heareth say, "Come!" What a well-known Person He is "I Jesus!" We might not recognise Him in some of His mysterious characters; and we might regard Him with awe as we survey in prophetic vision some of His glories. When the disciples of old saw Him walking over the stormy waters, and coming to them thus, they cried out for fear. But the words, "It is I, be not afraid," not only calmed their fears, but produced an answer in the heart of Peter. "Peter answered and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come to thee upon the water." His desire was not for the abatement of the storm, or for mere power to walk upon the water, but to reach Jesus. It is eighteen hundred years since Peter heard those words, "It is I," and stepped out of the ship to go to Jesus. If He had little faith he had affection. The last words of Jesus, as the Book of Revelation closes, announce, above and beyond all the storms of judgment, that it is Himself who speaks to us in those words, "I Jesus." Where is the heart of even the feeblest believer who cannot respond to that name? We say at once, "He is my Saviour." But more, He is the Bright and Morning Star, the Harbinger indeed of a day that is yet to break, but known in this heavenly character by the Church before it breaks. He will usher in the morning without clouds, and His glories will shine forth to the earth. But though it will be blessed for the Bride, as the holy city, to be the vessel of the glories of the once rejected and suffering Lamb, it is Himself which causes the Spirit and the Bride to say, "Come!" The present moment is the time when the Spirit is forming a Christ, unseen by the world and hidden in the glory, in the affections of the saints who compose the Bride.

If the Bride is the object of the love of a rejected but glorified Christ, He is also the One who has satisfied the desire which His love has awakened in her. We speak not of how far as individual believers we enter into this satisfaction; but the Spirit could not utter for the Bride anything less than the fulness of desire which He would produce in her. Thus, as knowing by the Spirit the living streams which flow from the Christ in glory, to whom she came and drank, she can echo the desire of His heart that any thirsty one should come to the same fountain. In the consciousness that she is the vessel of that grace whose rich overflowings she has received, she can say, that whosoever will may take of the water of life freely. This is very blessed. Judgment is God's strange work. When He does judge, it is to clear away the evil which prevents the fulness of blessing flowing out. from Himself. So soon as the powers of evil are put down, the heavenly city is seen descending out of heaven from God. Divine glory, light, righteousness, holiness, purity, beauty, symmetry, order, strength, security, every perfection is there. Though it be according to the measure of a man, all is of God. The presence and reign of Christ upon the earth will stablish it in righteousness and peace under His rule; but in the New Jerusalem, the Lamb's wife, will be learnt by the earthly saints far deeper thoughts of love and glory, in that the Father has given to Christ, while He was rejected from the earth, the company of saints who form His Bride, and in whom He will be for ever glorified. Poor sinners saved by grace, they will be the display in the ages to come of the exceeding riches of that grace. Those blessed on the earth will see the heavenly saints in the same glory as Christ, and know that the Son was the sent One of the Father, and that the love wherewith the Father loved the Son as His sent One is the portion of this glorious company. They are loved as Christ is loved. What an administration of governmental glory there will be upon earth! and besides, what an outflow of the beneficence of the heavens from the holy city. What marvellous instructions will it afford to those who see its perfections! but within, what a filling up to the fulness of God! Well may the Spirit, in the consciousness of what the assembly is to Christ, and the peculiarity of her present knowledge of Christ as the Bright and Morning Star, utter through the Bride the invitation to Him to come; and then, in the further consciousness of the grace into which she has drunk, repeat, through her to any one that is athirst, the same blessed invitation to come and take of the water of life freely. "Let him that heareth say, Come."

"He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." T. H. Reynolds.