Front-Row Seat

The Christmas carols are playing…I mailed packages this morning…I lit a pine-scented candle, I baked cookies yesterday to give to friends…it’s beginning to feel like Christmas! My neighbors have decorated their houses…

I haven’t – yet. The pressure is on!! I’ll get my outside decorations up before this weekend when all my neighbors gather for a party.I like to savor Thanksgiving just a bit longer – part of Thanksgiving is the anticipation of Advent. Certainly one of the things I am MOST thankful for is the coming of Immanuel.

We celebrate God breaking into human history in a remarkable way. God drew near to us. That is astonishing. No other religion has God reaching down to man – all other religions have man trying to reach their god by good works and sacrifice. Not Christianity. It is God coming to us because He loves us. He wants an intimate relationship with those He created. Wow! The only way to do that was for Him to come to us – face to face.

No wonder Zacharias was “troubled” and “feared” when the angel, Gabriel, suddenly appeared to him in the Temple while he was going about his priestly duties. That had to be unexpected for Zacharias and, not a little bit overwhelming.

Yes, the Jews anticipated Messiah’s coming for a very long time but they had not heard from God for over 400 years. Not a word. Not a prophet’s voice heard. Nothing. God was silent. There was a faithful remnant that kept waiting and expecting but I doubt many expected His coming to be announced to Zacharias that day.

It’s funny how God does the unexpected.

Gabriel told Zacharias that he and his wife, Elizabeth, were going to have baby boy. This baby was going to be the prophesied forerunner of the Messiah.

Zacharias asked this great angel how could he believe the angel. I doubt he’d ever seen one much less talked to one. Zacharias was practical – he and Elizabeth were old. He doubted what Gabriel was telling him. The sign of the truth of this message was that Zacharias would not be able to speak until the baby was born.

That had to be frustrating. He couldn’t tell all his friends and neighbors about the experience he had with the angel. He couldn’t talk to Elizabeth about the plans for the baby…

But in the silence in their home there must have been a sweet communion. Words are not necessary for communication. They must have felt God’s awesome presence and joy. And no doubt, awe-struck.

Why had God chosen them? What would their son be like? The angel told them a bit about him. He would be great in God’s sight. He would not drink alcohol and he’d be full of the Holy Spirit. His purpose was to turn many back to the God of Israel in preparation for the Messiah’s coming. He would have the spirit and power of Elijah, one of Israel’s greatest prophets.

What an awesome privilege to get a front-row seat to the coming of the Messiah!


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