The Bright and Morning Star
Open Your Bible
Revelation 22:16, Numbers 24:17, 2 Samuel 7:8-17, 2 Chronicles 21:7, Matthew 1:1-17, 2 Peter 1:19
BY Patti Sauls
Section 1: The Light of the World
Little did I know that my high school literature class called Modern Thought would be such a timely gift. As we read and analyzed Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness, I recognized that this writer was exposing the brokenness of the world. Conrad’s main character, the ivory trader Mr. Kurtz, epitomized human depravity. In his lust for wealth and power, he plunged himself into unspeakable depths of evil and violence. On his deathbed, as he faced his own twisted, dark heart, Kurtz cried, “The horror! The horror!” Conrad’s message was clear: the horror exists not only around us but also inside us. There is a darkness that creeps and sometimes rages in the heart of every human.
How could such a grim message be a gift? First of all, it is honest. Even my 16-year-old self sensed the world’s pain and, at times, my own. From impoverished nations to fractured families, from global hunger to high school hurts…brokenness is everywhere. Second, the novel sounds an alarm: we are a people in desperate need of rescue. We need a light that can pierce and conquer the thick darkness of sin and death.
There is a hope that overcomes horror: “I am the Root and descendant of David, the bright morning star,” declared Jesus (Revelation 22:16). The bright morning star refers to light reflecting off of planet Venus. If you’re up early at certain times of the year, you’ll see this first bright light rise above the horizon, breaking through the darkness of night. How appropriate for Jesus to refer to Himself as the light that signals the dawning of a new day! His life, death, and resurrection secured deliverance from the depths of darkness.
Jesus calls us forward to new life in Him, and, by calling Himself “the Root and descendant of David,” He also points us back to God’s plan for restoring this broken world. As was predicted long before Jesus was born, “A star will come from Jacob, and a scepter will arise from Israel” (Numbers 24:17).
Our unbelief and sin never take God by surprise. Nor is He wringing His hands in anxiety wondering how to handle the horror. From the beginning, God promised, planned, and provided rescue through Himself, through Jesus. But sometimes we are surprised and even overwhelmed by the dark. Sometimes I wring sweaty hands with a heart full of anxiety as I encounter pain, sin, and suffering. Sometimes the horror seems close and the hope seems distant. And yet, the morning star rises in our own hearts (2 Peter 1:19). In Christ, our hearts of darkness are illuminated. May every Christmas light remind us that even the deepest hurting and twisted parts of ourselves can be touched and restored by the light and life of Jesus.
This message is a gift to us still. Let’s receive it together as we walk through this Advent season reading about Jesus, our bright morning star who conquers the dark.