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Devotional: The Epiphany Star – 4th Wednesday in Advent

4th Wednesday in Advent

The Epiphany Star

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of
King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked,
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his
star in the east and have come to worship him.” … Then Herod
called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the
star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and
search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him,
report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2, 7-8

In yesterday’s devotional, we looked at this story with a focus on the Magi’s
camels and gifts. But why did they come to worship Jesus in the first place? It
was because they had seen a star in from their homes in the east. Why would
this cause them to travel to Judea bearing gifts for a newborn king? According
to the Roman historian Suetonius, at that time the world of the East was looking
for a new king from Judea. When this star appears, this astrological event somehow
tips off these astrologer-Magi that the time has come. The natural person to
visit was Herod, “the King of the Jews,” in Jerusalem, where they assumed a
prince had been born to his family. Herod, the most paranoid king in history,
was taken aback. He recalls and gets details about a prophecy of a new king
coming from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2-5) and sends the Magi there, hoping to get
a location to send his assassins. The star reappears for the Magi, leading them to
the house where they found Jesus (since the trip from the East took six months
to a year, he was no longer in the stable). Why was Herod so paranoid? Another
prophecy may have disturbed him:

I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of
Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of
Moab, the skulls of the sons of Sheth. Edom will be conquered; Seir, his
enemy, will be conquered, but Israel will grow strong. A ruler will come
out of Jacob and destroy the survivors of the city. (Num 24:17-19)

You see, Herod was an Edomite, and this prophecy of Balaam (a Magus from
the East) foretells the demise of people from Edom when this new ruler comes.
The sign of this new ruler? A star, represented on our Chrismon tree by the fivepoint
Epiphany star. Herod could read the heavenly sign: it was king-changing
time!

Prayer: Jesus, unlike Herod but like those Magi, we bow the knee before you
and welcome you to be our King. Amen.