Anglican Morning Devotion for 6 January 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows? 9Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee. 10And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee. 11Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. (Isaiah 60:8-11; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: 9And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. 10And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. 11And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. 12And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.” (Romans 15:8-12)
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1)
Today in the Church Calendar, we observe the celebration of Epiphany – the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. You will recall the great Angel announced the birth of Christ, first to the lowly Jewish shepherds on the slopes overlooking sleepy Bethlehem, and secondly, to the Magi (Gentiles) who came from afar – very likely Persia based on historical evidence. “But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:10)
They studied the ancient Hebrew Scriptures and kept a constant watch in the pristine night sky for a sign. They discovered that sign in a mysterious heavenly body on a constant path from east to west. There was no record of such a Star in all the annals of these watchers of the astral bodies of the purple night canopy. These Magi (Zoroastrian priests) determined this to be the sign for which they had searched. Not only the physical appearance of the Star convinced them, but the appealing urge of the Holy Spirit. This special Beacon of God led the Magi to the Christ child in the same way the Holy Spirit leads men and women of goodwill today to Christ. We no longer need the Beauty of a Star to lead is to Christ for He is His own Light and the very Light of the World. Of course, the Bright and Morning Star is a reminder of His constant watch over His elect people during the long, dark night of this earthly wilderness journey. But He becomes the Day Star to all of faith. And the Sun of Righteousness to those who eagerly await His advent in power and glory.
The tent skirts of the Old Testament Church had been limited to a small but special segment of the world population that believed the promise of a Redeemer made to Abraham. But a thick darkness settled over the Children of Israel each time the Lord blessed them with peace and wealth – much like the people of my own beloved land. These chosen of God were intended to be an example to us of the plan of God for all of faith.
The Gentile nations languished in that darkness without hope or knowledge of “. . .the Way, the Truth and the Life.” (John14:6) In fact, the greater numbers of those among the Israelite nation suffered likewise from that darkness. From the last voice of the prophet Malachi until the first utterance of John the Baptist, that darkness enshrouded Israel for the four hundred intervening years. The Jewish rulers had corrupted the Word and Law of God with their own imagined additions to the Law and the Prophets (many of whom they murdered).
Just as the Star of Bethlehem broke the eastern horizon with its gleaming light, so did the ‘Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness’ break the silence of centuries on the wilderness plains east of Jerusalem. John the Baptist served the same purpose to awaken Israel to the coming Messiah as the Star had awakened the dormant awareness of the Bethlehem shepherds, and the Gentiles.
Being far away from the knowledge and ordinances of God, the Magi had to traverse a great distant over treacherous mountain ranges of the Zagross Mountains of western Persia, the wilderness sands of Arabia, and the marshes of the ancient region of Ur of the Chaldees. But they journeyed on with intrepid spirit and dedication. So must we all breach every obstacle in our journey to Christ as we are drawn relentlessly to the Mercy Seat by the unfailing power of Grace. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrew 12:1-2)