Thursday, December 1, 2011

What's in a Question?

So I've been pondering yesterday's blog, or rather the stories of Luke, chapter 1.  More specifically, I've been curious about Gabriel's different responses to Zechariah & Mary.  Why did Gabriel take the voice of Zech when he treated Mary with compassion and further details?  What made one of them 'punishable', and the other not?

So I pulled out my Study Bible and a commentary, pulled up and went to it.  Amazing what discoveries can be made.

One of the first things that I was struck by is the timing of Gabriel's appearance to Zechariah.  This was not just an ordinary thing that Zech was doing on this day.  As a priest, Zechariah served at the temple for two one-week periods a year.  He was a member of one of twenty-four divisions in the priesthood of the first century, one of approximately 18,000 priests.  A priest only got to assist in the daily offering by going into the holy place ONCE IN HIS LIFE!   And he got that honor by being chosen by lot- meaning, they 'drew straws' sort of.  So it is that kind of moment that you train for all your life, but it only lasts for a little while.  And as is often the case, you don't know actually when it will happen.

His job was to offer incense which is a picture of intercession rising to God.   At the moment he places the incense on the alter, Gabriel appears.  How appropriate to pick a moment of worship and a time when people recognized their need for cleansing  from sin to announce this child, who would grow up to be the 'announcer' of the ONE who would take sin away from the world.

Gabriel tells Zechariah quite a bit about his son. 
The first thing was his name- John. Can you imagine being named by God? That must mean something special.

He will be a source of joy and delight for Zechariahand Elizabeth.  He will be great before GodHe will live a very strict, disciplined life.  I suppose that meant that Zechariah would need to pay close attention to that in raising his son also.   More importantly, the child will be 'empowered by the Spirit even from birth'.  Hmmm!  Too many times today parents refer to their kids as 'little devils'. What would it be like to have a child empowered by the Spirit from the time they were born?

Gabriel says that the child will be a prophet.  That he will call people to repent.  
    "He will turn Israel back to the Lord" 
    "He will turn the hearts of parent to their children"
John will be part of redirecting those who listen to his message to walk with God. He's making people ready for the Lord.

That' when we come to the question.  After being told all of this, even though he was a priest experiencing the ONCE IN A LIFETIME event, he doesn't just accept that a miracle of having a child will occur.  In his humanness, he sees a very natural objection.  He's old!  His wife is old!  He knew how it worked and it wasn't working anymore.

But this was Gabriel talking- not his neighbor down the road.  God sent Gabriel here at this moment, at this place, to give this message.  Zech had to know that given where he was and what he was doing.  Wouldn't the fear that Zech had when he first saw Gabriel keep him of 'second guessing' Gab's words now.

It seems not!  How many times is that true of me too?  Or of you?  Something extraordinary takes place and we receive  a wonderful word that must be from God and what do we do?  We step back and say 'well wait a minute, I'm not sure we can really do that- it's not the way things work.' But it was working that way.  God was speaking through Gabriel directly to him.

Zech needed to learn a lesson I need to learn as well.  God does His things in His time in His way.  If he says He will do it- it's done.  Simple as that!  It may not look like we think it will, or it should but HE WILL DO IT.

So here are my questions for this Advent Season.
What is He saying to you during this Advent Season?  
Are you listening?  
Are you even aware that He is talking to you?  
It may not be through Gabriel, but He is there using something in your life to speak what He wants to do in you.

When Zechariah didn't believe the angels words, he was actually doubting God.  That was why Gabriel responded by taking away Zech's voice.
What's your response?  
Are you believing what God is saying, or are you making excuses for how it won't work.  
Remember, this is God at work!  

Hmmm!  Much to ponder.
So how does this compare to Mary's response?
Well, I think I'll leave that for tomorrow!
See you then!

1 comment:

  1. So true...God does not give us a spirit of timidity, but often I/we are afraid to step out if faith even when we KNOW it's God's will so we will be safe with Him the whole time. How we respond says so much...
    Thanks Kathy!