January 6: Epiphany

Matthew 2:1-12; Isaiah 60:1-22; Psalm 72

Epiphany: The Manifestation of the Christchild to the Nations

January 6 is a very special day on the Church Calendar.  As early as the fourth century, the feast was observed in both the East and West.  “Epiphany” is a Greek word which means, “manifestation,” in this case, the manifestation of the Christchild to the nations, represented in the persons of the magi who came from far away in the East to see the King of the Jews.  Magi were pagan astrologers who inhabited the courts of kings from way before the time of Christ.  You find them throughout the Bible in Egypt, Babylonia, Persia, everywhere.  They were the king’s counselors and magicians (in which you see the word “magi,” Greek from magoi).

So today we celebrate the giving of the Christchild to us, people whose ancestors were pagans, that is, unbelieving gentiles, who were “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).  (But then again, this is the description of anyone separated from Christ.)  That is why this day is so special: God brought us near who were far off, and adopted us who are by nature children of wrath, and made us “alive together with Christ by grace” (Ephesians 2:1-10).  These pagan astrologers are ourselves writ large.

This is the magnitude of God’s grace and the fulfillment of His plan from of old, when He told Abraham at the very beginning, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).  Isaiah 60 is a wonderful prophecy of the event, speaking of the coming of the nations to a glorious new Israel: “Your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.”  This new Israel will be beautiful and radiant and the nations shall not be able to resist her.  This is a prophecy that I believe has more than one fulfillment.  I believe it is evident that it has been fulfilled in the coming of the gentiles to Christ and into the new covenant with the Jews who have believed, as is so aptly shown in the magi who bring gold and frankincense (Isaiah 60:6).  This is the Church.  But it awaits a greater fulfillment in heaven where the Lord shall be the everlasting light so that no sun or moon is needed (as in Revelation 21:23).  I beg you to read Isaiah 60 and Psalm 72 as they describe the glorious King who conquers not by sword and shield but by the Spirit.  Those who hated him fall before him, just as countless millions have fallen before the Lord and his gospel ever since, embracing salvation and gladly entering his Church.  And it all had such a humble beginning: a baby, a manger, and two young parents.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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