The Bright and Morning Star

What this prophetic name for Jesus reveals to us about our divisive times

Reflecting on the darkness of the last days, Jesus tells us that the love of many will grow cold (Matthew 24:12). That’s exactly what we’re seeing today. In this current moment, the vast political divides, economic divides, racial divides, and even spiritual divides seem impossible to overcome. 

So how do we protect our hearts from growing cold and dark, like the times we are living in? 

One of Jesus’s names—the “Morning Star”—gives us the answer. Every name of Jesus reveals something unique about His character, and knowing Jesus intimately is the key to guarding our hearts.

Here’s the passage in the Bible where Jesus introduces Himself as the Morning Star: 

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”—Revelation 22:16

So, why exactly is Jesus called our “Bright and Morning Star”? The meaning is far richer than you might imagine. Here are three reasons…

1. Jesus is Our God

The light astronomers commonly identify as the “Morning Star” is not actually a star. It’s the planet Venus. Ancient astronomers knew this, but they called it a “star” because it shines with such brightness, just as Jesus notes in Revelation 22:16

In the ancient world, stars were associated with divinity because of their luminosity, because of their position in the heavens, and because they moved across the sky. The people of Israel were unique among their neighbors in that they understood the stars were helpful for designating times and seasons (Genesis 1:14), but were not to be worshipped. Yahweh alone was worthy of worship—not His creation.

But this didn’t stop Jewish prophets from borrowing the vocabulary of their pagan neighbors to communicate God’s truth. In this case, Jesus’s claim to be the Morning Star is nothing less than a claim to Deity. He’s more luminous than any star. He holds the highest position in the heavens. And when He comes back, He’ll move across the sky to rapture His church.

The ancient world placed its faith in the stars, but we place ours in the One who made the stars. Only He has the power to protect our hearts from growing cold.

2. Jesus is Our Hope

In the solar system, the orbit of Venus is located inside the orbit of Earth. For this reason, Venus doesn’t even appear in our skies until a few hours before sunrise. This is why the ancient Greeks referred to Venus as Phosphorus, which means “bringer of light.”

When the Apostle Peter refers to Jesus as our Morning Star, he has this same idea in mind:

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts
.—2 Peter 1:16-19

Peter’s experience with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration confirmed the prophetic word about “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” For now, we hold on to this promise like a “light that shines in a dark place.”

But one day—I believe very soon!—the light of promise will be replaced by the Morning Star of fulfillment. Jesus is our “bringer of light.” As the One whose arrival announces the light and warmth of a new day, only He has the power to protect our hearts from growing cold. 

3. Jesus is Our King

While the ancients obviously attached significance to Venus as the “bringer of light,” John would have been thinking mostly of the Old Testament background for Christ as our “Morning Star.” Ironically, one of the oldest and most complete prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament came from the pagan Balaam.

Here’s part of Balam’s prophecy:

“I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,
And batter the brow of Moab,
And destroy all the sons of tumult.

And Edom shall be a possession;
Seir also, his enemies, shall be a possession,
While Israel does valiantly.
Out of Jacob One shall have dominion,
And destroy the remains of the city.”—Numbers 24:17-19

Theologians universally recognize that Christ’s title as Morning Star developed in part from this prophecy, which mentions a Star that “shall come out of Jacob.” (As Matthew 1:1-17 details, Jesus was born from the lineage of Jacob.)

One thing I want you to understand about the Morning Star is not only that it brought hope into darkness. I also want you to see HOW that hope arrived. It was by conquering Israel’s enemies and taking dominion with His ruling “scepter.” 

The same idea is clear in Revelation 22:16, where Jesus calls Himself “the Root and Offspring of [King] David” in the same context as identifying Himself as the Morning Star. The ideas are related because the Morning Star symbolizes the dominion of the Messiah. 

As our Morning Star, Jesus is King over our political, economic, racial and spiritual division. People place their hope in earthly kings, but we place ours in the One who rules the kings of the earth (Revelation 1:5).

Only Jesus has the power to conquer the darkness. Only Jesus has the power to protect our hearts.