When my brother was five or six, he opened several birthday presents (including one wonderful toy car, a perennial favorite), then he looked at Mom and said, “Is that all?” I understood him to be saying, “Am I done unwrapping, so I can start playing?” But Mom took it otherwise, thinking he was expressing dissatisfaction or disappointment. Whatever my brother’s little-boy feelings were, far too many of us as adults do find ourselves disappointed with some gift we receive—or the failure to receive the particular gift we wanted. Wrong values, erroneous expectations, and carnal desires lead to such results. But believers will soon be rid of such foolishness; we will find ourselves in a place where every desire is perfectly in accord with the will of God and every gift we receive perfect. Furthermore, every moment will offer a fresh and glorious gift of grace forever and ever. The fourth gift we examine here is an example of the infinite richness of the gifts God gives His children.
In the first part of this fourth gift, the Lord promises to give His overcomers (those who have been redeemed through Christ) “authority over the nations” to “rule them with a rod of iron” (Rev. 2:26b, 27a). The passage quotes Psalm 2:7-9, which refers to the millennial reign of Christ. As with all the gifts, the full significance of this one escapes me, but it would seem that just as we are promised elsewhere to be like Christ and to sit with Him in His throne, so here we are promised to be so identified with Christ that His reign will be our reign as well. Believers will share in the absolute authority that belongs to the Son of God and will rule (lit. “shepherd) the Gentiles during the one-thousand-year reign of Christ from His throne in Jerusalem. Prior to this occasion, the church has been viewed by the world as powerless, without authority, and utterly without significance on the world scene. (Read secular history books if you think otherwise: the real church is virtually invisible.) But in God’s perfect time, He will exalt the church, Christ’s Bride, to a position of authority and honor because of His redeeming work on her behalf.
In the second part of this fourth gift, the Lord promises to give nothing less than “the morning star” (Rev. 2:28). This is nothing so empty or worthless as the modern gift of having a star named after someone and having it recorded in “The International Star Registry.” Rather, this appears to be promise of nothing less than possession of the full presence of Jesus Christ. Peter expresses a similar idea when he writes that “we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” (II Pet. 1:19). And later in the Book of the Revelation, John quotes our Lord: “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (22:16). The morning star shines brightest in the great darkness just before the sun rises. As George Peters comments: “As the morning star, He is seen by few; as the sun, He is seen by all.” Perhaps the appearing of the morning star is a metaphor for the rapture of the Church whereas the rising of the sun speaks metaphorically of His glorious appearing that ends the tribulation and ushers in the millennial reign. Only the “little flock” of the church will see and rejoice in the former, but all the world will tremble at the latter.
Conceivably, John describes both this gift of authority over the nations and of the morning star in his first epistle when he observes: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (I John 3:2). What a gift! Like Him to a large degree (not identical or equal in His deity, but like Him) in character, in ability, in appearance, and in delegated authority. So much like Him, in fact, that “both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11). To quote Charles Wesley: “Who can explore His strange design?”
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