Herald Journal Columns
Jan. 2, 2006, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

Epiphany: manifestation of God’s promises

By Rev. Eric Nelson, St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church, Lester Prairie

A new year has begun.

The year 2006 means another round of mid-term elections. Of course, elections bring all sorts of promises made by various candidates vying for local, state, and national offices.

The public often grows a bit skeptical when such promises are made. We have learned that what is said during an election campaign may not actually come to fruition.

On the other hand, God is faithful when he makes a promise. For example, in the book of Genesis, God instructs a man named Abram to leave his country and his people.

Abram was to go to the land that God would show him. God had plans for this man from Ur. God declared to Abram (whose name would be changed to Abraham) that all people on earth will be blessed through him.

Another significant promise was made to David. When David enjoyed a period of rest from all of his enemies around him, he resolved to build a house for the Lord. However, the prophet Nathan informed David that he would not build a house for God. Instead, God would build a house for him. God would establish his throne forever.

The Epiphany of our Lord manifests the faithfulness of God. Epiphany is celebrated shortly after the arrival of the new year (Jan. 6). It commemorates the visit of the Magi (or Wise Men).

The Gospel of Matthew states that the Magi came to Jerusalem searching for the one who had been born king of the Jews. They saw his star in the east, and they came to worship the newborn king.

The visit of the Magi indicates that this king who was born was not just for the Jews; he was for all people. Because this king came from the line of Abraham, God kept his promise. The newborn king would truly be a blessing for all people.

In addition, this infant king also fulfills the promise made to David. Despite the Roman hegemony, the Davidic reign was not dead. A new king in the line of David has come who will take his place on the throne. His kingdom would truly be an everlasting kingdom.

God has also made a promise to you. He has promised that he will not count your sins against you.

Because of this little child who was born king of the Jews, you have forgiveness. As a result, there is no need to fear judgment and wrath. Instead, you may look forward to eternal life.

How can God keep such a promise? Because he is righteous and holy, he cannot tolerate sin of any kind. His justice demands that there must be punishment. How can such a God make a promise of forgiveness?

The birth of Jesus not only means that God fulfilled his promise to Abraham and David, but it also means that God will fulfill His promise of salvation He made to us.

This child would face the punishment that our sins deserve. He would offer his perfect life as a sacrifice in order to appease his righteous and holy heavenly Father. The sacrifice he made on the cross would be enough to establish our forgiveness. That is why he rose again.

Epiphany means manifestation. It is a fitting name. A blazing star manifested to the Magi that a new king had been born. This new king manifests to us that God is faithful to His promises.

In addition, Jesus manifests to us God’s great love and compassion. It is because Jesus has come and reveals this love, compassion, and faithfulness to us, we, like the Magi, manifest our devotion to Him.

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