“He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: 17I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
(NUMBERS 24:16-17; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
There is something mysterious and magical about the heavenly bodies that provide light for our dark nights and direction for our ships at sea. This principle resembles that of Holy Scripture which reveals truths and reserves others for our continued enlightenment. There are deep mysteries in God’s Word which no theologian can fully explain though it is difficult to find such a theologian who will admit of any mystery.
If we go out into the night on a cold, clear evening, the sky will be pristine and filled with heavenly bodies of varying shades of glory. The ancients attempted to count them in vain. If we were to count every star visible in the night sky, we still would miss the figure by millions. There are stars that we see at night which have long ago vanished from the Universe. Their light still travels through the ether of space to our eyes, but some of those stars burned out long, long ago. Others that do not yet appear will do so when their light beams have traveled the millions of light years necessary to reach earth. Others are beneath the horizon and visible only to those people in distant lands. But God has counted those stars and even called them by name. “He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.” (PSALMS 147:4)
The heavenly bodies cast in disciplined order throughout the Universe by the Finger of God are creatures made by Him, and their courses are dictated by the natural law He has instilled in all of nature.“Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights. 2 Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. 3Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. 4Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. 5Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. 6He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass.” (PSALMS 148:1-6)
God created these beauteous lights for our joy and enlightenment. Before the compass or gyroscope, God gave travelers of the sea the stars to guide them. Amazing it is that such a panorama of beauty and enormous scale would be created for our joy: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (PSALMS 8:3-4)
God sends His love the world over to believer and heathen alike, yet His special comfort and salvation belong to the believer alone. God has even used pagan prophets to reveal His will and Word. Balaam, quoted in our lead text, had his dim vision opened by the Lord to pronounce a mighty prophecy – the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ! But Balaam did not fear God after that revelation. Instead, he devised a plan to overthrow the Children of Israel in the Wilderness. In addressing the Church at Pergamos, our Lord says: “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” (REVELATION 2:14) (see also, Jude 1:11 and 2 Peter 2:15)
Balaam was not unlike any self-professed ministers of our own day who teach that every perversion is acceptable in the House of the Lord. Balaam may have taught the Moabites to send their women among the Israelites causing them to commit adultery. At any rate, his sin was one of personal greed and dishonesty. Surely, we have a proliferation of such men in our pulpits today; but thank God for the minority ministers who stand on the Word and Spirit of God.
The stars of heaven can also refer to angels: “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (JOB 38:4-70 Indeed, Reader, where were you when the cornerstone of the earth was laid and the witnesses of the Host of Heaven sang in praise and joy?
Every reader of this devotion who is my age will recall the sweet and mystical lines of the Disney theme song that debuted in the 1940’s whose first stanza reads:
When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you
If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star as dreamers do.
It is perhaps the case that the author of these lines had no idea of any association with Scriptural truth, but truth is present in them. Wishes are not generally granted by God, but biblical prayers are, indeed, granted if they express the will of God for our lives. It matters not the race, color, or nationality of the petitioner. But what does matter is the condition of the heart of the one making the petition. Our dreams and hopes are centered in our hearts, and if the heart is centered in Christ, anything becomes possible according to His will. Of course, we do not pray to angels, but rather the Creator of angels and of all things.
Is your night filled with sorrow and worry? Walk outdoors and look up at that purple canopy of heaven. There you will see the stars arrayed in the same order in which the Hand of God placed them on the morning of Creation. There are twinkling stars of vast distances away. There are tiny stars, and brighter ones as well. But there is one star in the sky whose brightness profoundly exceeds all others. That was the first star to appear at sunset (the Evening Star) and the one that remains in the high point of heaven throughout the night as a hopeful promise of the coming Sun. Then, just before sunrise, that star beckons from the eastern horizon as a beacon of promise of the coming of the Sun. (Morning Star). That Star is likened to our Lord Jesus Christ who is our first light of promise and joy as we begin our dark nights journey in this wilderness world. He abides over us throughout the long night, and He brightens the horizon of the end of our days as a Star of Promise of the coming day of endless joy. “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star.” (REVELATIONS 22:16)
Do you remember that our sun is only a medium-sized star? It is the brightest heavenly body to us because it is nearest to us – like our Lord Jesus Christ. “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (PROVERBS 18:24)
Do you as well remember that our Lord Jesus Christ is not only our Bright and Morning Star, but the Sun of our eternal day. “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” (2 PETER 1:19) Jesus is our Daystar (Sun) and the Sun of righteousness to arise in our hearts! “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” (MALACHI 4:1-2)
Our lives are filled with hard labors and sometimes unfulfilled dreams in this world, but we must persevere in the knowledge of whose Hand guides our fate and lights our way through the darkness of the world. “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (PSALMS 30:5)
The Bright and Morning Star heralds that coming Sunrise of joy.