I heard a great comment that maybe we have heard the story about Christmas so much that we just think it is boring. That is because we have never paid attention to what really happened. Let me talk about my man Zechariah and his run in with Gabriel.
Okay…so here we are…a few years before the birth of Christ, not that most of those folks knew…or cared that it was going to happen. Luke 1: 5-23 tells the story….you read it…I’ll paraphrase it. Bottom line…there is no way this can happen short of God planning it, which of course is what He did.
Zechariah is a priest that his time is up to go in and burn incense, and offer the sacrifice in the Holy of Holies. Bored yet? Stand by. Okay, so Zechariah’s time is up. Well there were so many priests at the time that this is probably the only time in his entire life that he would do this task. On top of that, he was childless, which was a sign of a curse and scorn amongst all of the priests. And he goes in the Holy of Holies, the Holiest place on earth, because that is where the priest would burn incense for the people…..no sin was allowed in that place my friend…God couldn’t permit it. So Holy in fact that the story goes that a priest would have a rope tied around his ankle…so in case he had any sin in his life, and God killed him for coming into His presence with sin….then they could drag his body out. In other words, this was not to be taken lightly.
So Zechariah is in the Holy of Holies, and he and his wife Elizabeth had been praying for a child…probably for many…many…years. And all of the sudden an angel is standing beside him. And the angel says that he is Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God…and was sent to tell Zechariah the good news that the Messiah was coming! One thing I haven’t told you is what Gabriel looks like.
Check out this description of Gabriel from Daniel 10:5-6 - I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was girded with a belt of pure gold of Uphaz. 6 His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult.
The funny thing is after that….basically after Gabriel tells him that not only is the Messiah coming, but your very old wife is going to have a child…Gabriel says, “how can this happen?” Of course he is asking that to the angel who “just appeared” and his face is like lightning…his eyes are like fire…and his voice is like a stadium full of people….and basically Zechariah says, how can I know this is true….or in my paraphrase…can you just give me “one” more sign?
So let me recap how God makes an announcement….the one that will change the world…
1. Pick out the priest that most of his peers would consider an outcast or cursed.
2. Put him alone in the most holy place in the world….where you may not live through the task.
3. Send a messenger who is very shiny, eyes on fire, face like lightning, voice like a tumult….who stands in the very presence of God.
4. And He does that so we know that something BIG is going to happen.
But if you think about it…there is no way of breaking that news that can do it justice. There is really no way to say that I am sending One who will take your place of judgement for your sins. To say that He is going to come and live a blameless life, and be rejected by everyone…especially by those who “should” love Him. And that this Man who is at the same time God, will come as a little baby in a manger…and confound the wisdom of the world forever. And He is going to send this man, Jesus…because He loves Dan enough to pay the price for His sin…and to rescue Dan from himself, and that if Dan believes that this Jesus is who He says is…then He will guide Dan’s life, and will allow Dan to live with Him forever. By the way, you could change the name from Dan to your name….because He will do the same for you.
You may not believe in God, but you have to admit that He has style. But if you will trust Him….and believe in Him…He will change your life, and make your “dash” worth something.
May God bless you with the knowledge of Him during this Christmas Season.
Grace and Peace, Dan