Among the parables or metaphors of nature, the Son of God is represented by the sun. Insofar as sunlight is pure and cannot be contaminated, so the prophet Malachi aptly described the coming Christ as the “Sun of Righteousness” (Mal. 4:2 KJV). Likewise, He is also designated by Luke as “the Dayspring (Sunrise) from on high” (Lk. 1:78). In final confirmation, the Lord Himself declared, “I am the Light of the world” (Jn. 8:12). The planet which dominates the sky before the sun rises is Venus. This is the pagan name for what is also known as the Morning Star. Technically Venus is not a star but the planet nearest to the earth. However, the ancients commonly described the planets as “wandering stars” (Jude 1:13) because these orbs which comprise the solar system seem to move out of step with the backdrop constellations. Morning Star Of The New Heavens Because Christ has pre-eminence in all things He is the first to name Himself specifically as the Morning Star (Rev. 22:16). In this context, we may discern Him as representing the freshness and fragrance which will suffuse the new creation. In other words, we may regard Christ, the Firstfruit (1 Cor. 15:23), as pre-figuring the future immortality and eternal youth of the redeemed. For by the power of His resurrection, He has become the archetype of those who will share in His glory and kingdom for ages without end. Therefore those raised and transfigured at His coming will inherit these same graces and beauties. Thereby this same Jesus promised to give the Morning Star (Rev. 2:28) to every faithful saint in Thyatira.
In the Old Testament the term “morning stars” appears in the plural and refers to the angels of God. And so, the Lord demanded of Job, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? … when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4,7). These verses refer back to those ancient times when the angels rejoiced in anticipation of a new creation. For God had resolved to create a being whom He would fashion after “the image and glory of God” (1 Cor. 11:7).
In any case, whether singular or plural, the Morning Star always anticipates a new beginning. And so, the planet Venus has long been the eminent and brilliant herald of the dawn. When it rises in the east, it foreruns the sun whose coming glory it reflects into the world. In contrast, when the sun rises, the shining forerunner dims into invisibility before the superior glory of the daystar. So John, whom some supposed to be the Messiah, said of the Sun of Righteousness, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30). John saw himself as a morning star announcing the coming of the Sun of Righteousness.
Morning Star As Prophet
If the scribes had been asked to identify the greatest of the prophets before Christ, then the disputers of this world would have blurred into a cloud of confusion. For only Christ Himself could state, “Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (Mt. 11:11). This verdict from Christ – the Judge of judges and Prophet of prophets – is conclusive. In dispensational importance, John was even greater than the great Elijah who had been taken up alive into heaven. For none of the kings who lived after Elijah’s translation was greater than the King of kings born in Bethlehem, the city of David.
And if the Morning Star is the most important planet which precedes the approaching dawn, so John prophesied about the imminent appearing of the One who had created the sun. For John “bore witness of Him, and cried, saying, ‘This was He of whom I spoke. He that cometh after me is preferred before me; for He was before me’” (Jn. 1:15). For if John was born before the Word became flesh, yet the divine Word “was in the beginning with God” (Jn. 1:2).
Insofar as Venus casts a brilliant light, so John was like a lamp burning in the sky of the dawn of divine grace. Therefore Jesus told the people that John “was a burning and a shining light; and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light” (Jn. 5:35). But being only for a season, John would have to give way to the Greater Light (Gen. 1:16). It is interesting that Jesus described John as a “burning” light. For the placid beauty of Venus shrouds a volcanic temperament. So John was an uncompromising evangelist whose refreshing candor deeply offended the proud and impenitent Pharisees. If modern astronomers have likened the topography of Venus to hell, their research is confirmed by Matthew (3:7,12; 12:34; 23:33). For when it came to preaching the gospel, John was a human volcano.
Morning Star Ministry
John is the only pre-Calvary prophet who was closely related to Jesus by blood; they were full cousins with a mere six months between their respective births. Both experienced miraculous conceptions as John’s mother Elisabeth was aged and barren. In contrast Mary the mother of Jesus was a young virgin engaged to a son of David named Joseph. Also the births of both were promised by the prophecy of the angel Gabriel who appeared first to the priest Zechariah in the temple and later to Mary, the handmaiden of the Lord in Nazareth. It is also interesting that both men experienced what has been termed the “hidden years.” While Jesus was hidden as a carpenter in Nazareth, John “was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel” (Lk. 1:80).
Insofar as John appeared publicly in the 15th year of Tiberius, we can calculate the duration of his ministry. If Tiberius reigned a total of 22 years, then John’s appearing in the 15th year means that he and Jesus ministered during the remaining seven years of the tyrannical emperor. If the Savior’s ministry was for three and a half years then John’s ministry was likewise three and a half years.
By Tom Summerhill
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org