Sunday, December 25, 2011

Devotion 23. The 1st Gentile Worshippers

In previous devotions, we saw that God’s intention was always to spread his glory over all the earth. It was not his intention to limit the knowledge of himself to Israel. God told both Adam and Noah to multiply over the earth and take dominion of it. He told Abraham he would bless all nations. He set Israel in a special land to be a kingdom that would be the light of the world. Through Isaiah he said “…the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together…” (Isaiah 40:5).

When the Savior was born into the world, God demonstrated his purpose dramatically. He reached out to wise men living in the eastern world and drew them to Jesus. They may have been philosophers or astrologers living in Persia. Some think them to have been Medes in the Persian Empire. Regardless, God drew them to himself. Matthew told the story in chapter 3 of his gospel. They saw a star. Somehow they knew that following it would lead them to the king of the Jews. I have often thought that they might have had Daniel’s prophecy from the time he lived in exile in Babylon. The Persians conquered the Babylonians and allowed the Jews to come home. Daniel 9 informs us that Daniel continued to serve in the Persian Empire. Its king was Darius, who was actually a Mede.

Somehow the wise men also knew he was more than an earthly king, for they came to worship him (Matthew 2:2). They were looking for a sign this great king had come. They saw the star as that sign. They went to worship, driven by the Lord. It reminds me of Jesus’ words in John 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” The Father certainly drew the wise men to him. And they were Gentiles.

So from the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life, God worked to manifest him to Gentiles. These wise men were missionaries of a sort. They saw the Son of God. They worshipped him. They returned to their land and told their story. It was all as God intended and all according to his purpose.

Most of you who read this devotion are Gentiles. God drew you to himself. He brought you into his kingdom. These wise men were the first fruits of the Gentile branches grafted into the tree of God’s kingdom (Romans 11:17). Now there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile (Romans 10:12). What is important now is not race, but belief. The distinction is between those who believe in Christ and those who do not, for the Lord bestows his riches on all who call on him. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:12-13).

And of course we see the intended result is worship. God called these Gentiles from far away to come and worship Christ. And they did.

When you worship on Christmas Day (fittingly on the Lord’s Day this year), rejoice that God did not limit salvation to the Jews. Praise him for this great mercy. He chose to spread his knowledge over the earth by including Gentiles in his salvation. When you sit in the pew and hear the gospel, worship the Lord of salvation and realize you were as far away from Christ as the wise men until God drew you to himself and bestowed his grace upon you so that you became a child of God.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us,,that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1).
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