Our story of Advent began even before Gabriel approached Mary and Joseph as it was in the mind of God from the beginning of time. The arrival of the Messiah, one who would save mankind from their sins, was told throughout the Old Testament. Scripture also mentioned one who would come before this Messiah, Savior, and prepare the way for His arrival. Today in Luke 1:11-17 we find two people, Zechariah and Elizabeth who were consider devout and blameless (verse 6). This didn’t mean they were sinless, but that God recognized their devotion and love for Him. They had been married many years and had no children. Zechariah was a priest and Elizabeth his wife was called barren. They were both considered old, and she was beyond child bearing age.
Zechariah was serving in the temple and an angel appeared to him. “Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.” The angel told Zechariah their prayers for a child had been heard and would be answered with a son he was to name John. Then the angel continued and told him about this unusual child, what he would be like and what purpose God had for him. “He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Can you imagine Zechariah and Elizabeth’s surprise at hearing this news? Their prayers had been heard and the answer was forthcoming. It was not only their prayers but the prayers of the nation of Israel for a Savior, Messiah, that would to come and save them from their sins. Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son would go before this coming holy one and prepare the way for Him. What honor and joy they must have felt!
How do we see God in this portion of our Advent story? As I began yesterday, knowing that God would hear my cry for understanding through His Word so Zechariah and Elizabeth were assured by Gabriel that their prayers had been heard for a child. They had prayed for years for a child to raise and love. God had chosen them to parent this coming one who would proclaim the Messiah. What joy they must have felt at knowing God heard their prayers and that they would have a child. On a bigger scale they would have understood that they would all be part of God’s plan for the redemption of mankind.
This reveals that God is accessible to us in prayer. He hears us and responds in His own way and in His own time. All God’s plans are for His glory and our good. I also see God’s infinite grace in revealing His plan to them, showing them how He was going to use them and their son. God did not need to tell them all these things but showed them His grace in revealing it to them. Grace is God showing us kindness or favor we do not deserve. One does not earn grace, it is freely given by God. Psalm 84:11 says “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” We also see God’s ability to know the future and have all things under His control, Sovereign. His supernatural power to provide an impossible child for Zechariah and Elizabeth also shows His love and care for us as individuals.
May you see our Accessible, Gracious, Loving, Caring and Sovereign God at work in your life today.