Daily Reflection – 12/19/19
In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years. Once when he was serving as priest in his division’s turn before God, according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.” Then Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel said to him in reply, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.” Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He was gesturing to them but remained mute. Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home. After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying, “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.”( Luke 1:5-25)
Today we see the salvation story unfold within the parameters of the relationships of a childless couple.
In the Gospel it is the husband to whom an angel appears with words that are just as amazing. Although he is a “righteous” man from the “priestly division of Abijah,” Zechariah finds the message hard to believe. He is “an old man,” and his wife “is advanced in years.” The angel quiets Zechariah’s fears by literally silencing him.
Astonishment and uncertainty often mark the ways in which Christ comes into our lives. In times of confusion and in periods of doubt, silence can be a welcome companion. It allows us to consider not only the mystery of God made man but also the mystery of man becoming God.
The child Elizabeth will conceive will be “great in the sight of the Lord,” because he will go before the Lord “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” Not only will Zechariah’s son bring joy to his parents, but he will “turn the hearts of fathers toward their children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous.” He will “prepare a people fit for the Lord.” Zechariah knows that his son will be stirred by the spirit of the Lord.
Every human heart contains a prayer not yet answered and a desire yet to be fulfilled. Like the couple in today’s Scriptures, the ways in which God responds to us can be truly unsettling and his purposes difficult to comprehend. Our couple longed for a child, but the life they conceived was more than just answers to personal prayers. John entered the world in order to show the splendor and the glory of God the Father. He was set apart, “taking no wine or drinking strong drink,” because he was inebriated by the mighty works of God.
In Jesus our disgrace has been removed. God has seen fit to do this in a way far greater than any we could have fashioned for ourselves. His very Son has entered our lives, His spirit is in each of us. Our mouths should sing of God’s glory, for he has rescued us from the hand of the wicked and been our strength even from our mother’s womb.
When God draws us into his presence, he wants us to be still and quiet before him so we can listen to his voice as he speaks to our hearts and reveals his mind to us. Do you listen attentively to the Lord and do you ponder his word in your heart with trust and confidence? When we do, all is well when one seeks only the will of Jesus.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you bring hope and restoration to your people. Restore and strengthen Christian family life today. Help me to love and serve my family. May your love rule in all my relationships and remove any barriers to peace and harmony.”
Sometimes we feel like God punishes the righteous. We must realize in these circumstances that God has a plan for our life. In spite of the unbelief and punishment, Zechariah and Elizabeth trusted and cooperated with God. That led them to joy and gladness as foretold by the angel.