My eyes soaked in the midnight view. Stars crowded the sky. The bright artificial lights of my metropolitan home usually bully the stars into a muted blackness. But not here. Miles into the country, God’s luminaires were on full display. I craned my neck upward. The heavens sparkled with diamonds.
These stars had once prophesied to Abraham. His eyes were turned to the heavens as God promised him a nation as countless as the stars. Magi who meticulously studied the sky were shepherded by a star to their Savior. John was a witness to Jesus, the Light of the world, who identified Himself as “the bright Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16). God continually lifts our eyes upward, away from ourselves.
“After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward…He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:1, 5-6)
Fear has the ability to come alive and lurk around us like a monster in the night. This night was no different. Martin Luther observed, “The fact that Abraham is commanded to look at the stars is proof that this vision occurred at night, at a time when Abraham was sighing and lamenting.”
Uncertainty encircled Abraham. His circumstances indicated that his prayers had been either inaudible or forgotten. But in the emptiness and desolate darkness of night, God came to him. When fear and doubt threatened to overtake Abraham, God drew near and comforted him. “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
This sweet declaration Abraham receives is soothing to ears scarred by sin and shame. We, like Abraham, are sinners. Our conscience bears witness to this fact and accuses us. When we contemplate our own lives, we may wonder with Abraham if we are regarded by God. When circumstances bring hopelessness, and when the accusations of the Law come, God’s Word comforts us with the Gospel. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news” (Luke 2:10).
God continues to be gracious to Abraham promising him innumerable offspring. He takes him outside and allows the celestial lights to demonstrate the magnitude of the promise. The sky was bursting with shimmering promises.
Jesus was the offspring in which all of Abraham’s offspring awaited. A unique star emerged which escorted the Magi to Christ, the Light of the world. This star acted as a messenger crying out like John in the desert, “Behold the Lamb of God.” The heavens proclaimed the good news. Behold the Light who has come to our sin darkened world.
The bright Morning Star, the Prince of Peace speaks gently to us and says, “Do not be afraid.” Abraham looked up at a dark sky glittering with hope. We look up at the promised Light nailed to a cross, taking our darkness and giving us His light. Do not be afraid. The Light of the world reaches out with His nail scarred hands and says, “peace be with you.”
Pastor Norman Nagel once stated, “It was for you, just you (not for a thousand million people), that Christ died. That is the sweet, personal, life-giving message of the cross. As one redeemed by Christ, you belong to Him, to His kingdom. You have a place, value, and meaning, and unto your soul is given rest and peace.”
It was for you that Jesus came that you may not be afraid. Jesus is your shield. It was for you that Jesus went to the cross and absorbed all of your sin and mine. He is our mighty fortress against sin, death, and the power of the devil. You belong to Christ.
Author Jacob Preus writes, “The Light, who is Christ, enables us to see, to know, God. He shows the way to God by His light.” The starry pages of the Scriptures illuminate Christ. He has brought us to our loving Heavenly Father. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). Do not be afraid, Christ is your shield from danger and His righteousness given to you is your great reward.