Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The different questions put to Gabriel

In Luke chapter one, we read how Gabriel appears to Zachariah during his time of burning incense. Gabriel tells Zachariah: Do not be afraid, Zachariah, 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..."

Gabriel calls Zachariah by name, and he knows Elizabeth's name. This prayer for a son probably was prayed many, many years ago. Zachariah had probably about given up on those prayers. The Bible specifically states that Elizabeth was barren and that they were both well along in years. So, Zachariah asks, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."

Gabriel rebukes Zachariah---"...because you did not believe my words..." Zachariah is struck speechless until eight days after John is born and the nosy neighbors argue with Elizabeth about the choice of John as a name for their new son.

Now let us look at Mary's question six months later. Same Gabriel. Gabriel greets Mary, in a face to face meeting, gives her what angels always said first: "Do not be afraid.." And Gabriel gives her details---you have found favor with God, you will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end." Mary asks, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

I don't know Greek or Hebrew, but Zechariah asks, "How can I be sure of this?..." and Mary asks, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

Zachariah does not believe. Mary is concerned about the mechanics?

Gabriel gives Mary the details of this unique Virgin Birth: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy ONE to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."

Boy, don't we all love hearing that promise: "Nothing is impossible with God."

And Gabriel plants the idea that to confirm all he has said, the evidence rests in her relative, Elizabeth---and so Mary hurries to visit Elizabeth.

I wish the recent Nativity Story movie had gotten their facts straight. It was a pretty good movie to help visualize living back then. The scenes with Elizabeth comforting Mary are pretty accurate, but the Nativity Story movie completely skips Jesus' dedication in Jerusalem at probably one month of age, and how the wise men show up at a HOUSE when Jesus was over one month old, not the stable.

Do young pregnant mothers do this much walking today?? Mary probably walked to Elizabeth's house, and walked part way and rode on a donkey to Bethlehem. Then they traveled to Egypt when Jesus was maybe two months old or even one year old. Whoa. They must have been in fantastic shape.

Neat stories. There is always something fresh and new when I read them and study them. Amazing stories.

Wouldn't you love to see Gabriel's briefing---God gives Gabriel the assignment to visit Zachariah at a specific time in a special place of prayer---during the incense burning part of his once-in-a lifetime opportunity to serve in the temple where it will fall to him by lot. God probably warned Gabriel that Zachariah would not believe him. And what to say next. God probably told Gabriel, at this point, you say: "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."

God's Word is true. God is not surprised by "lots" or gambling or the throw of the dice. God knows ahead of time everything that is going to happen. And the cursing of Zachariah not believing is turned to blessing---for we get to peak into heaven and see a faithful angel's name and job description. Amazing.

God's Will WILL come true. God's Will WILL COME TO PASS. God has promised that Jesus will rule forever and ever. Get used to it. Get over it. It is as good as done. Nothing is impossible with God.


Bob said...

As a priest at the incense altar, it was Zecharias's job to offer prayer for the nation of Israel. So when Gabriel said, "Your prayers have been answered," he could have been referring either to Elizabeth's and Zecharias's longstanding prayer for a child or to the prayer Zecharias was offering on behalf of Israel. Either way, the answer to the prayer was the same: the birth of the Messiah's herald.

joyce said...

And help me out with the math, my math man. The Bible is specific about how Gabriel appeared to Mary in the Sixth month, Elul, August/September. Gabriel speaks about the future, but by the time Mary gets to Elizabeth's house, Elizabeth calls Mary, the mother of My Lord, so maybe the Holy Spirit conceived in Mary during the seventh month, which in the Jewish calendar is Tishrei, Sept/Oct or when Jews believe Adam and Eve were created. Wouldn't that be just like God to appear at the same time?? Count nine months, and we get Nissan, Passover

joyce said...

Jesus was born in the SPRING. Some say April 17th.

And from what Gabriel also says to Mary, about how Elizabeth is six months along, we can guess John's birthday---as well as when he was conceived. John was probably conceived right after Passover, and born in November or December which means Zachariah was serving at Passover----not just any old time of incense and prayer. No wonder the crowd that saw him come out after taking too long.

joyce said...

just figured out how you get email when folks comment. ha