Sunday January 2, 2022 was the Ninth Day of Christmas and the Sunday before Epiphany, which is the day associated with the revelation of the Messiah and Lord to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi. They came a long way following God’s heavenly sign in the sky to find and worship “the King of the Jews,” as they understood him to be. They were paying him homage and gave him very expensive offerings – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
These Magi were “from the east,” perhaps as far away as modern day Iraq, but they certainly were not children of Abraham. They were part of the Goyim – the nations not of the Covenant people, Israel. As such, they represented the the rest of the world to whom the Covenant people were called to be a light for the One True and Only God, the Creator of all human beings. Why was the light of the star shown to them? Why were they led to Bethlehem? Because, the promise of salvation and covenant with God was never just for the children of Abraham and the Hebrews freed from slavery. They were chosen to point the nations to Yahweh – I AM.
When you look back at the original covenant of blessing and promise – the calling and covenant and pledge God made with Abraham – you see that the purpose of God calling Abraham and making his descendants a great nation was to “bless all the peoples of the earth.” From the first moment of his calling Abraham is told: “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
After the awful testing that comes to Abraham regarding his son, Isaac, God reaffirms this universal blessing. “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
The calling of Abraham and the delivery of the Hebrews from slavery and the giving of the Promised Land and the Covenant at Sinai made through Moses was never just about Abraham, Moses, or the Hebrew people. The purpose of Abraham’s inheritance, Israel’s blessing, and the Mosaic covenant were all about the ultimate blessing (salvation and covenant) with all the peoples/nations of the earth. In other words, everything was preparation for the fulfillment that came with the Epiphany to the Gentiles.
The Apostle Paul certainly understood this to be the case. He reminds the church in the letter to the Galatians 3:16-17:
“The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. Foif the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
The Magi were called to Bethlehem and given the miraculous heavenly sign of light because the Savior who was born was for the blessing of the nations – all the peoples of the world. One has to wonder, however, what happened after the met Jesus the baby – the King of the Jews. We know they had spiritual discernment enough not to report to Herod. But, what did they tell their fellow Gentiles? Did they live the rest of their lives wondering about the destiny of the baby? Was their devotion a “one off” event and encounter? We don’t know.
But, such questions should cause us to ponder our own responses. What do we do since we’ve met Jesus? Is he only an additional item in our thinking, now? Someone we try to fit into the rest of our busy lives? Is he someone we occasionally wonder about or pay attention to? Do we think of our experience with Him as our own private blessing? Or do we see in Him the ONE and the ONLY blessing for our lives and the world?
Surely the purpose of His coming to fulfill God’s original saving covenant and promise which started with Abraham is that we would realize that He is described by that last question. If we see that, what do we do when we’ve met Jesus? Do we want want others to know Him, receive Him, and follow Him? Or are we too afraid of being offensive even to share a word about Him? He came to be the Light of the world and He told us that we are to bring the witness of His blessing to others we meet. So….what to do?
Perhaps we might begin by making a promise to Jesus that this year we will pray for 4 or 5 people (or you pick a number) intentionally and faithfully each day that the light of Christ will shine in their lives. Perhaps we might make a promise to Jesus that we will be on the look out for opportunities to share His light by speaking about our relationship with Him to those same people. Perhaps we might seek to change things in our habits or attitudes or character that keep us from being about to “let our light shine” before people.
We don’t know what the Magi did after they met Jesus, but I think we all know what we should be doing.