As Advent–the journey to Christmas, and ultimately Easter–began, I began a journey of my own. For sometime, I felt that God was leading me to concentrate my reading and study on the Gospel narrative. To go back to the basics of what Jesus said and did. Strip out the third party, and just stay on the story of Jesus.
Today's reading brought me to the story of Gabriel appearing to Zechariah and foretelling the birth of John. I've read this story many times and have even written about it previously on this blog, but a couple of new things stood out to me in today's reading. The day before yesterday, we looked at the prayer–and subsequent answer–of Zechariah. Yesterday, we turned our attention to the angel's command regarding John. Today, in our final post in this short series, we will look at the message of John.
Our text is from the Luke 1:5-25 (NIV) (emphases mine):
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.
Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of The Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
Then an angel of The Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him:
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He wil 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. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to The Lord their God. And he will go on before The Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous–to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
The angel answered, “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.”
Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
The statistics on orphans are staggering. UNICEF statistics from 2009 tells us that 153 million children have lost at least one parent, and of these, 17.8 million have lost both parents. 119 million have lost their father.
In other words, 136 million children in the world today have no father.
To be perfectly honest, I have no way of wrapping my mind around this number. Yet, to add to this heartache, there are millions of other children in the world today whose father's are still alive, but are absent from their lives.
We have several friends who are in the process of adoption right now. Each of their stories are unique, but share the common thread of being a living image of what God has done for each of us.
One family, who lives internationally, is adopting a child from neither America nor the country in which they live.
Another, adopting a child from their own state.
We also have friends who work internationally with orphans. Yet, in addition to being parent-less these orphans also have disabilities of various types.
Turn the hearts of the fathers to their children.
The message of the Kingdom is exhibited in these people. Set the orphans in families.
See, here's the deal, we are all orphans. Each of us has been separated from our Father. Father created us to be in relationship–family–with Him. Yet, we elected to turn from that relationship.
But, rescue has come.
And that was John's message. The King was coming. Messiah was near. Father was setting redemption in place.
And, so, as our friends have done in the physical, God is doing in the spiritual. He's calling us back to family. Calling us to join this family Kingdom.
Before I finish, I would be remiss to not offer you an opportunity to assist with these earthly representations of the Kingdom principle of adoption. If you would like to be a part of the adoption journey of our various friends, then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get you in touch with them.
If you would like to assist the ministry mentioned, then please visit our friends at Kimmy's House.
I am thankful that we are family!