Monday, January 6, 2014

An Epiphany on Epiphany

My Christian walk has never led me into a "liturgical" type of church, so when I was reading about Epiphany I was intrigued.  While my house is fairly back to normal after the holiday festivities, most of Christianity around the world is continuing the season. Epiphany is the remembrance of the visitors from the East that we call Magi or Wise men. Unlike many Christmas cards, most Bible scholars believe that about 2 years passed between Christ's birth in the stable & the arrival of the Magi. Why else would King Herod demand the execution of all baby boys age 2 & younger? He checked his facts against the timing of the star & Biblical prophecies & then made the command. If you're not familiar with their story, read Matthew 2!

So why is the visit, this last story of the Advent season, so important?  That's where my epiphany came. God's Word is so amazing! There are no accidental inclusions in Scripture & so there must be lessons here for me to learn. As I started prayerfully reading, these are the lessons I learned.

The Magi took great pains to go looking for the new king. The Bible says that if we seek, we will find Him. (Luke 7:7-8) He is always available to us but so many people sit back & wait for God to show up in their lives to prove Himself, or to rescue them when they get into trouble. What great reward for those who seek Him! He will always be found & He promises to reward those who diligently seek Him. (Heb. 11:6)

They didn't stop even when running into great obstacles, trickery, & misguided ideas. They looked for the new king in the palace (a logical assumption) & were cajoled by Herod, whose motives were anything but righteous. They travelled many miles through difficult terrain & circumstances. Their motivation was so great, however, that nothing deterred them. They knew the finding of this new king would be an awesome experience & it was. We can never give up anything or go through anything that makes it reasonable to give up our faith or relationship with God. Once we truly find Him, our "light & momentary" troubles will seem insignificant. (2 Co. 4:17) The sheer joy of knowing the end results led our Savior to the cross. (Hebrews 12:2) What else could solidify this lesson?

Their gifts were prophetic: Gold because He was & is the King of Kings, frankincense which was incense used to honor deity, & myrrh which was an embalming spice & spoke of His death.

Their visit was confirmation that Christ came for the WHOLE world. While it was the Jews that looked forward to the Messiah's coming, these Magi were Gentiles. Their visit echoed the words of Simeon, in Luke 2:25-32, where he addressed the baby Jesus as "the Light to the Gentiles & the glory of God's people."

They came to worship. Unlike the shepherds who came to check out what the angels said, these visitors came only to worship. They didn't ask for anything or expect anything back. They just wanted to honor & adore Him, presenting their gifts to this One whose star announced His coming! What a difference we would find in our lives if we spent more time worshipping & adoring our King, rather than constantly asking for His help or His provision. That's not to say we shouldn't ask, but if our petitions continually replace Worship there is something really missing.

Finally, the Lord directed them to leave another way. When we are truly in the presence of our Lord, hearing His heart & His Word, it should change & redirect us. If we can go in & out of church each week, study the Bible, pray, & do all the other "Christian" things without any change in lifestyle or perspective we are in need of a Spiritual adjustment. (1 John 3:6,9) Perhaps our passion for God has died or we're not using our gifts & talents. Maybe we've become lax or our Bible reading & prayer time is a chore rather than a privilege. God's presence should always cause us to want a deeper relationship with Him & stronger passion for those things which are His heart.

Those are the epiphanies that I had while reading about Epiphany. I pray that they were meaningful & perhaps thought-provoking for you as well.


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