The Evening and the Morning Stars
by Rt. Rev. Louis B. King
As long as men have been in existence the stars have provided them with a sparkling symbol of hope. Even the most sophisticated of mortals cannot help but sense the awesome majesty of the evening skies nor, beholding it, long refrain from wondering and pondering deep and far away thoughts, as the immense canopy of the stars descends upon him.
And it is because men of today, as yesterday, are similarly affected by these luminaries of the night that the stars have been used profusely in Sacred Scripture as emblems of knowledge - knowledges of truth which uplift, inspire and thereby lead and guide our thoughts into wisdom. The Lord is Divine Wisdom Itself. All truths given by Him are for the purpose of guiding our willing and thinking, our speaking and doing, along the path of regenerate life which leads to the Lord alone. And since the whole of the Word treats of the Lord and of our responsibilities in approaching Him, much is said in the literal sense regarding stars and the truths which they represent - truths which guide into a state of heavenly wisdom or eternal conjunction with the Lord.
And with the mention of stars, wherever and whenever it occurs, hope and promise of future states of wisdom are spiritually implied. So Jehovah Himself, speaking to Abraham on a night when he first entered the land of Canaan, said, "Look now toward heaven and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: And He said unto him, So shall thy seed be" (Gen. 15:5). And on a later day, when Abraham had expressed heartbroken willingness to sacrifice his only son Isaac in obedience to the Lord's command, the Lord said, "Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven" (Gen. 22:17).
Much later Balaam the prophet, under the direct and full influence of the Spirit of Holiness, symbolized the Lord's advent in terms of a prophetic "star" that would rise out of Jacob. And when in fulfillment of numerous prophecies the Lord was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem saying, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star."
The evening star which the wise men followed represents those remains of good and truth which provide, in childhood and youth, our first vision of the Lord. But if this vision is to be perfected, enlarged and made rational, the Lord must come again to make all things new. So in the book of Revelation it is promised, "I will give him the morning star." The morning star, which ushers in the light and warmth of a new day, refers to more than mere truth which leads to wisdom. Rather is it a symbol of Divine Wisdom Itself. So the Lord refers to Himself as "the root and offspring of David, the bright and morning star." Here by root of David is meant the Lord as creator, by offspring of David is meant the Lord as redeemer. And by the bright and morning star is meant the Lord Himself with the man who is being regenerated - the Divine wisdom received and adjoined to man's spiritual mind.
The evening star and the morning star symbolize, therefore, the Lord with us in childhood, and the Lord with us in adult life. Each presence in its own way and in its own time gives promise and hope of redemption and salvation. The evening star shines in the warmth and excitement, the disappointment and sorrow of Christmases past. For genuine hope in the Lord and confident trust in His Divine Providence are born of temptation, sorrow and disappointment as well as states of peace, happiness and success. Life's tenderest moments come out of the past - remains of innocence, like the evening star, shine with hope and inspiration, bringing all that was good and true from the Lord out of the past into the present. What delight would we feel in our celebration of the advent season without the powerful remains of yesterday? How could we feel so close to our loved ones in the spiritual world, particularly at this time, if we had not shared so many festival celebrations with them in years gone by? And does not this reflection add meaning and power to our worship and acknowledgment of the Lord? Does it not rekindle our hope of eternal life and our confidence in the Divine mercy of the Lord?
And looking back is it not a marvelous thing to be able to see in all our disappointments, heartaches and apparent tragedies the guiding hand of our Heavenly Father; working every moment in every aspect of our lives to bring about our greatest eternal welfare and happiness; to accomplish for us individually what He accomplished for the whole human race by His advent, namely, our redemption and salvation? The evening star shines again whenever remains of the past are stirred - whenever our thoughts go back to the historic fact of the Lord's first coming, or whenever past states associated with this blessed event are recalled and relived. Christmas would lose its power and glory if we did not each year return momentarily to the innocence of childhood, rekindling those tender delights associated with the Divine Infant cradled in Bethlehem of Judea on that first Christmas eve, so far away and so long ago. The mystery and the majesty introduced into the world by the Prince of Peace, throughout the ages, have touched the hearts of untold millions of men and women each year, captivating their imaginations with a gentle, innocent kind of magic. And the universal sphere of peace and good will which pervades the human race for a brief Christmas interval is so productive of true Christian feelings that we find ourselves astonished that it has so little lasting effect upon our human relationships throughout the remainder of the year.
And yet as New Churchmen we ought not to be surprised. To be sure, this annual "spirit of charity" in the human race is founded upon powerful ultimates, affections of innocence originating in childhood; but they are short-lived and impotent because devoid of any internal states of Christianity - devoid of any true knowledge, acknowledgment or worship of the Lord Jesus Christ in His Divine Humanity. The star of the east, the evening star, shines in their hearts for a brief moment with sincere hope for peace on earth and universal good will among men, but as a light that shineth in darkness, the darkness of materialist philosophy comprehendeth it not. The evening star, though productive of hope, cannot achieve the new day without the warmth and brilliance of the morning star - the Divine Wisdom of the Lord in His second coming. Without the Lord's second coming, His first advent holds out less and less hope for Christianity each year. So the Lord promised to those who would acknowledge Him in His second coming, "I will give him the morning star."
Upon our vision of the Lord as an objective, visible Divine Man depends the whole of our eternal well-being. And this vision of our visible God is the product of all states of good and truth, past and present. The evening star shines with hope out of the past, as the Lord stirs remains and enriches the present therefrom. The morning star shines with hope in the present and for the future, as the Lord's Divine Human enters into us and gives promise of a new and eternal day wherein the end of creation itself shall exist in us as a state of heaven from the human race.
Heaven, as a state in man, is conjunction with the Lord. Conjunction is effected by love, love from the Lord to the Lord. But until there is a genuine knowledge of the Lord we cannot visualize Him objectively in the human mind. And let us remember that it is only in the human mind that we see truth at all. The ideas or mental images within the rational mind, stimulated by knowledges taken in from the Word and made to live in the spheres of affection inflowing from heaven, are the mirrors in which we behold our Lord and our God.
From the letter of Old and New Testaments, together with remains of innocence associated therewith, we derive our idea of the Lord as to Person. These knowledges and associate remains shine in our conscious minds for they are the evening star of His first advent. From the Writings we derive knowledges of heavenly doctrine which reveal the Divine and Human Essence of the Lord, that Essence from which we look to His Person. This is the morning star which the Lord gives to brighten our vision of His Divine Humanity. And when the Lord appears to us in this full and immediate way we may reach out with our intellect and our affection to touch, yea embrace, with the whole of our being our Redeemer and Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.
May the height of our Christmas celebration, as it draws near, consist in reflection upon the beauty of Divine Revelation which brings to us the immediate presence of the Lord and the hope of His salvation. Whatever our lot, whether riches or poverty, whether happiness or sorrow, health or sickness, companionship or loneliness, youth or old age, whatever our lot, the Divine Love and Wisdom in human form fully visible is present in the very ultimates of daily life, caring and providing for every individual's eternal needs.
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me;" sang Isaiah "because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified" (Isaiah 61:1-3). And the Lord replies: "He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me. And 1 will give him the morning star.
New Church Life 1981;101:603-606