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 give him the name John.
He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God.
And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous-to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:13-17
4th Sunday in Advent: Gabriel
Bible Reading: Luke 1:5-25
Jesse Tree Symbol - angel (go to Jesse Tree ornaments)
400 years of silence...that is the length of time between the last words of Malachi and the words of the angel Gabriel to Zechariah. 400 years without any revelation from God. Had discouragement set in? Had hope grown cold? How long, oh Lord, before you come to us as our Messiah, as our rescuer, as our redeemer? The Jewish people still longed for a Messiah but many had lost hope and no longer really looked for Him.
Is this why Zechariah did not believe the angel Gabriel when he was told? Had he lost hope and was just going through the motions? Or, had the bitterness and sadness from years of hoping and praying for a child, with no answer, left him unwilling to believe that now, in his old age, God would finally grant him a son?
His unbelief is reminiscent of Sarah when she was told that she would become pregnant in her old age and have a son. Yet God's answer is the same: "Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son." Genesis 18:14
400 years of silence...yet, what were the last words of Malachi before this blanket of silence fell upon Israel? "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.
He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse." Malachi 4:5-6
And now what were the exact words of the angel Gabriel concerning this miracle baby? And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous-to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
The time of waiting was finally over! The stage was being set for the arrival of the King of Kings! And His arrival would be heralded by His cousin...a miracle baby...a baby who would be filled with the Holy Spirit and would be reminiscent of the great prophet Elijah.
400 years of waiting...actually, for us, it is over 1,900 years of waiting...waiting for His return, waiting for the completion of all that Jesus has promised us. "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23
May we wait with hope, pray with hope, long for Jesus with hope. "For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay." Hebrews 10:37
The above commentary on Luke is part of a 4-week Advent Reflection for the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is similar to an advent calendar. Every day you will read a Bible passage to your child(ren), discuss what it means to them in personal terms and color an ornament to hang on your Jesse Tree. A fuller description of this can be found at The Jesse Tree
When you are finished today, you might want to discuss how Christmas is about giving much more than getting. One way that your family can give is through their daily prayers. This might be a good time to pray for a specific country or for a group of people who do not know about Jesus. Today, over 2 billion people, 1/3 of the earth's population, have never heard the Gospel message. They don't know about a God who loves them, made them unique and celebrates who they are. They need our prayers.
Two great websites to help you do this are:
Operation World go to Featured Nation and click on Country Profile
Another way to give is by giving a gift to those, throughout the world, who have very little. It might be a chicken, or sheep or a goat...maybe you can help pay for the digging of a well or provide a sewing machine to a widow so she can provide for her family. There are many ways to help this Christmas. Visit Gospel for Asia and take a look at their Christmas Catalog.