Advent 2021: A Season Of Healing And Hope – December 23
December 23, 2021
The Morning Star in Our Hearts
(Rev. Dr. H. James Hopkins is Senior Pastor of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church)
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.
19 So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
II Peter 1:16-21 (NRSV)
“Until the day dawns and the morning star rests in your hearts.”
In the church of my youth much attention was paid to the second coming of Jesus. While no one, at least as far as I remember, was of the “I know the exact date it will occur so until then don’t count on me for anything” school of thought, much attention was paid to world events, especially the establishment of the Nation of Israel in 1948, as clear signs that Jesus would soon physically return.
Of course, we were not the first, or the last to live with the expectation that the second coming was near at hand. Many, if not most, of the first followers of Jesus, expected that Jesus would return while they were still alive. This belief made them courageous but it also meant that their ethics could be greatly influenced by a “it doesn’t matter because we are not long for this world” outlook.
Throughout the centuries the belief that Jesus would soon return has waxed and waned. There were times when it was fervently anticipated and times when the attitude was “maybe we should reconsider what we mean by the second coming of Jesus.”
While the writer of second letter of Peter (likely the last of the books of the New Testament to be written) is intent on upholding the belief that Jesus would soon physically return, even he recognized that Jesus return could also be a spiritual promise, a matter of the heart.
Verse 19 of his letter’s first chapter reads: So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
The writer portrays the second coming in spiritual terms, as a “morning star rising in our hearts.”
Far be it from me to profess full understanding of the doctrine of the second coming of Jesus. I am cautious about guaranteeing a physical return of the Christ. Of a spiritual return I am more certain. I see it happening daily in the lives of many. Especially as Christmas approaches, I believe that Jesus can dwell within us and among us like a morning star rising in our hearts.