New New Forerunner
Luke 1:5-13 ESV
Genesis 1:28 (God’s Blessing)
Psalm 34:7 ESV
Psalm 91:9-16 ESV
I do not recall this passage of scripture being preached at any time during my 65+ years of listening to sermons. I’m not sure why, because it tells a great story.
The story begins with Zachariah, the priest and his wife Elizabeth who is identified as the daughters of Aaron.
Zechariah was from the tribe of Levi. They had been the priestly tribe since the time of Jacob.
Elizabeth was also identified as being from the tribe of Levi and since she was related to Mary who was from the tribe of Judah, more than likely Elizabeth’s mother was from the tribe of Judah.
We read in Luke 1:5-13, “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.”
Zechariah and Elizabeth had a reputation of following all of the commandments and statutes of the Lord. However, we are told Elizabeth was barren and the couple had no children. In Genesis 1:28 God blessed Adam and Eve and told them to be fruitful and multiply. If having children was a result of God’s blessing, not having children count have felt like you weren’t blessed.
At the time of this story Elizabeth was past child bearing years and the couple had given up hope of bearing children.
On this particular day, Zechariah was chosen to go to the Temple to burn incense. Being chosen to enter the Temple and light the incense was an honor. Lighting the incense was a symbol of the prayers of the people (https://ac3.org/2016/01/in-luke-110-11-why-does-gabriel-appear-on-the-right).
While Zechariah was lighting the incense the people were praying outside.
Then suddenly while Zechariah was lighting the incense, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him and stood at the right side of the altar. Standing at the right was symbolic of God’s favor.
Most of the time when an Angel appears in scripture those present are filled with fear. Angels are not described as being tiny creatures that stand on your shoulder. They are not small. They are illuminated heavenly creatures who are messengers of God! One job Angels have is that they are sent by God to deliver a specific message.
When an Angel appears in scripture the first line the person usually says is they are filled with fear or they were afraid. I think that’s because Angels really are God’s Secret Agents. In 1975 the Rev. Billy Graham wrote a book entitled, Angels, God’s Secret Agents. The book was very helpful and it was eye-opening. In the book he said throughout scripture Angels are mentioned 300 times.This visit to Zechariah was just one example!
And, this Angel brought very very good news to Zechariah and Elizabeth. They had wanted a child for a long long time and now they were told they would have a son!
Can you imagine Zechariah running to Elizabeth to tell her about the Angel’s visit?
Can you imagine how Elizabeth took the news? I’m sure she was filled with many questions.
I would have asked when this would happen.
I would certainly want to know when this was going to happen.
The point is, it was definitely a miracle. I’m not sure that Zechariah realized what a miracle it was when the Angel appeared.
The truth of the matter is…Angels don’t just appear occasionally, they are all around us.
Psalm 34:7 tells us, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.”
Psalm 91:9-16 assures us when we turn to God:
“Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
On that day in the Temple the Angel did deliver a miraculous message to Zechariah that changed their lives.
The baby who was promised was the forerunner to Jesus, the Christ, the one who would change everything on earth forever.
Because of John the Baptist who set the stage for Jesus of Nazareth, we can understand and receive everything God offers.
We only need to turn to God and trust
Spiritual Practice: Trust God
Thank God for sending Angels to protect and care for us. Trust God.
In God, Deborah