Summary: On New Year’s Day more than a billion people were looking to a light that was falling instead of rising and nearly all of these people were Gentiles who were looking in the wrong place for their hope and their joy.
Message: Isaiah 60:1-6
Light figures prominently in New Years and at Christmas. Maybe you stayed up on New Year’s Eve to watch the “Ball Drop” from New York City. It’s a tradition that goes back to December 31, 1907.
Ever since that first “Ball Drop” people have looked up to see the glowing ball come down a flag pole to mark the end of the old year and the beginning of the New Year.
You may still have some of your own lights hanging off your home from Christmas decorations you put up last year. When I say it like that it makes it sound as if you have left your lights up for a long time but we understand it has only been a few days.
The “Ball Drop” in New York is now all computerized and they have changed the ball they use several times over the years. Now they use a ball that is 12 feet in diameter and is made from Waterford Crystal. I guess some man figured that if you’re going to drop a bright shinny object that weighs 12,000 pounds you might as well make it an expensive bright shiny object.
Over the years many famous and not so famous people have been given the honor of pushing the button that drops the ball and each year they give a name to the “Ball” this year it is called “The Gift of Wonder”. Last year they called it “The Gift of Fortitude”.
Over one million people filled Time Square to watch the event live and over a billion watched on television.
Strange that so many people now look up to see a light that will tell them that the times they live in are about to change. But so few will turn to the true light that has the power to change their lives for eternity and give their present times meaning and purpose.
When our Heavenly Father hung a special star over Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago few people took notice.
A few Shepherds in their fields and a few Wise men from the East, Magi who had spotted an unusual light that would reach its full brilliance over tiny Bethlehem.
These sky watchers knew the Jewish prophecies concerning the sign that would mark the birthday of a new king for Israel.
When they appeared before the reigning king of Israel King Herod; he was surprised by the news and wanted to know the details of this sign which they readily gave him.
How often does God put forward a sign for someone and they fail to see it?
A sign for a people, a nation or even a church. I think it happens far more often than we realize it.
Today is what is referred to as Epiphany Sunday meaning the day that the Gentiles realized that God had sent His King as a baby boy born in Bethlehem.
Epiphany is one of those fancy religious words that just means – Now I understand. The dictionary say an Epiphany is: an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure: a revealing scene or moment.
I like the word illuminating since it refers to light. It means the light bulb in your head turned on.
The Wise Men who were Gentiles had an Epiphany but King Herod had an embarrassing black out moment since he did not know his Bible as well as these Gentiles did.
In today’s scripture reading Isaiah 60:1-6 we have another sign that was given to Israel.
It is a sign that proclaims the arrival of the Messiah. Sadly most Jews today are just like King Herod was more than 2000 years ago.
They failed to reach an Epiphany about Jesus.
They do not consider the Old Testament prophecies that we use as proof that Jesus is the Messiah.
Instead they say we got it wrong even when we quote the signs we see from their own Bible.
They would rather look for a different sign. Like King Herod they missed the star. It could be that they had their heads down with their noses in their books instead of having their heads up looking to the night sky.
That reminds me of an old saying… “You can be so heavenly minded that your no earthly good.”
I think some of us can get like that too from time to time. We forget that there is a lot going on all around us that God is displaying but we can get so focused on one little thing we forget to take notice.
Well Isaiah wanted Israel to take notice of the Messiahs coming.
Sadly even these passages written some 750 years B.C. did not get the attention of the Jewish people to alert them to Jesus arrival in Bethlehem.
You see our Heavenly Father did send a light that should have gotten every Jew to their feet that night but they were not looking in the right place.