The pagan prophet Balaam is best remembered among Sunday school students as the man with the talking donkey, but he also gave a prophecy of Jesus Christ some 1400 years before Jesus’ birth. Hired by king Balak of Moab to curse Israel, he was constrained by God not only to refrain from cursing but to bless Israel and utter these words:
I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near:
a star shall come out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the forehead of Moab
and break down all the sons of Sheth.
Additionally, several early Christian writers report that Balaam’s oracles were preserved not only in the Hebrew scriptures, but also among the eastern peoples of Mesopotamia, and that is was these oracles that in part prompted the Magi to go looking for a newborn King among the Jews.
The season of Epiphany is a season of mission – God’s mission, planned from the foundation of the world, to reveal His Son Jesus Christ to all peoples as the Savior of the world. A joyful Epiphany to you!