The birth stories – Advent and the preparation for the coming of Christ.
The Power of God in advent Luke 1:5 -25
George Methodist Church 2nd December 2018
With Peter Veysie
The season of Advent, which comes comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” or “visit,” begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians. [Liturgical — from liturgy, which means the forms and functions of public worship.]
During Advent, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ. We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing for, and need of, forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning. Even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem, we also look forward anticipating the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was promised by his first coming.
It is so essential for us to have a time of preparation for this season. We are given an opportunity not only to celebrate but also to make ourselves ready. John’s whole mission was to make ready a people for the coming of the Lord. We do not know when the Lord will return but we must be ready. I must confess that I am always an eternal optimist and I do not do this out of fear but rather grace and love. The are those that can scare the living daylights out of with their doom and gloom prophecies.
We are going to explore the awesome power of God in an encounter with both Zecheriah the father of John the Baptist and Elizabeth his mother the cousin of Mary.
1. It’s time
What was happening at the time of the birth of John and then of Jesus is quite profound, Nothing happens outside of God’s control and especially when it comes to the birth of a Saviour.
Herod is King of Judea and just some brief observations about this man is that he was born in 73BC and died in 4BC. After defeating the Hasmoneans priestly dynasty, Herod and his family took control of Judea under the watchful eye of Caesar Augustus. The Romans ruled over the priestly families and so you can imagine what kind of oppression that was.
Zecheriah is a priest who serves in the tribe of Abijah(meaning son of Jah- God). He is part of 24 priestly groups who served in the temple and they would be chosen by lot (purim) to serve. Just think about the chances of
getting this right !!!! They would travel from their hometowns to Jerusalem to serve for a two week period in the Temple lighting the candles and praying interceding for the people of God.
His wife Elizabeth is the cousin of Mary and she too is a descendant of Aaron the priestly family.
They are both described in scripture as upright in the Lord and they observed the commandments and regulations of the Law. Remember that Herod as King of Judea is ruling and reigning over all of these people. To remain upright in the Lord was most profound and probably a little unusual.
While Zechariah is going about doing his duties in the temple, the angel Gabriel appears to him.
Gabriel “God is my strength”in the Abrahamic religions, is an archangel. It was first described in the Hebrew Bible, and subsequently developed by other traditions.
In the Hebrew Bible, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel, to explain his visions (Daniel 8:15–26, 9:21–27). Gabriel the archangel is also a character in other ancient Jewish writings such as the Book of Enoch. Alongside archangel Michael, Gabriel is described as the guardian angel of Israel, defending this people against the angels of the other nations.
In the Christian New Testament in the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah and the Virgin Mary, foretelling the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, respectively (Luke 1:11–38). In many Christian traditions including Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic, Gabriel is also referred to as a saint.
Worshippers are praying outside the temple and Zechariah is alone inside the
temple and he’s praying too and suddenly at the right hand side of the altar, the Angel Gabriel appears.
He is startled and gripped with fear. Do you know that feeling ?
We always have fluffy white winged pictures of angels but if you look through the scriptures most people were afraid when one appeared and this is not just any angel but the Archangel Gabriel. We know also about Michael who appeared to Moses when he was taken away before the crossing over the Jordan into the promised land. These are powerful representatives of the Lord and I believe Harry and Margie gave you more of an understanding of this last week. Revelation 12:7 ;Daniel 10:13;Jude 9.
The power of this story as you heard last week is the message that in their late years Zechariah and Elizabeth would have a son and this announcement is difficult for him to believe –
The angel says some profound things about this boy and I believe that this is a wonderful tool for us today when it comes to affirming
He questions the Angel which seems totally logical and normal but because of this cannot speak later.
The power of this encounter needs to be noted as something completely extraordinary but also brilliant in so many ways. Men we know ourselves that we would not find it easy to keep quiet about such an experience.
The Words we speak over our children.
What the angel says to Zecheriah is for me a powerful testimony to the importance of speaking words of blessings over our children. We must remember how powerful this is. Mickey Mouse on Friday.
- A joy and a
- Many will rejoice because of
- Many will come back to the Lord because of
- He will drink no wine.
- He will be filled with the Holy Spirit from
- He will go on in the Spirit of Elijah. Remember Elijah’s chair at the passover and the doors open waiting for the presence of the
It’s powerful to speak positive words over people not only our children and we are to think before we use red language verses green language. Explain.
It would seem to me that despite John being a bit strange and a rebel – eating locusts and honey and living a little bit like a bergie that he had a good relationship with his earthly father.
His mission tells me a little bit about this because he (John) is prophetically called by God to :
- Turn the hearts of the fathers to their children. Most of our problems in this time in SA is due to the absence of children have good role models and father figures. We have to start somewhere and maybe it’s just with ourselves being available to be a role model to others and our own children/grandchildren, Fathers do not exasperate your
Ephesian 6:4 instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
- Turning the disobedient to the wisdom of
- Make ready a people prepared for the
Isaiah 40:3 A voice calling in the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord. We are still called to do this.
Vs 18 – HOW WILL THIS HAPPEN ?
Let’s not find ourselves silenced without any ability to make a change but rather let us become the CHANGE AGENTS FOR THE FUTURE. THIS TIME OF CHRISTMAS IS AN IDEAL OPPORTUNITY TO PRACTISE THIS AND TO START TO REALISE THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.
Elizabeth was in seclusion for 6 months and then later Mary visits her and we will chat about this on another day.