December 18 – The Next Elijah

Luke 1:5-25: In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.  And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.  But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.  And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

 

Luke records this incident that happens at the temple. Zechariah and Elizabeth, the faithful couple who couldn’t have a child for many many many years, so much so, that they think they are too old to do so have a day that could never be forgotten.

Zechariah while in the temple, by himself, all of a sudden is joined by an angel. While this would have been humbling to most, Zechariah seems to still have some guts about him. He is afraid immediately, but the angel seems to reassure him quickly. The Angel tells him the news of his child who will be born, but Zechariah immediately calls the angel into question. Zechariah jumps to the practicality of the message of the angel, but seemingly missed the actual message.

Gabriel shared that the child, John, would HAVE THE SPIRIT AND POWER OF ELIJAH, making ready the people for the Lord. It is very much a call back to Isaiah 40, combined with the return of Elijah. This is what the people of Israel are hoping for. Instead of celebration and joy, Zechariah thinks that he and his wife are too old. Witnessing something miraculous, he ignores God’s power and tries to reason how he could make it happen himself.

Zechariah loses his ability to speak and then has to go home and share this news with his wife. They act out on the angel’s proclamation and begin to follow through with it. Elizabeth hides herself during the process, and recognizes that through this pregnancy it helps to alleviate her social status ailment being childless.

We hear through Gabriel that prophecies told long ago are beginning to be fulfilled. The time is coming near! We can celebrate! This is a wake the town kind of event! However, Zechariah’s not saying anything and Elizabeth hides away. No one knows! We have the beginning of something amazing and it’s being kept under wraps.

Have you ever had exciting news but didn’t tell anyone? I know i did with the announcement that my children were on the way. We’d wait until a certain time before doing a big reveal. In this these moments hard to hide the excitement that comes with it, but yet we do in order for the greater reveal later. I think it’s the same way here. We have the news that this child will be like Elijah, but the parents don’t make a big deal about it for the better reveal later. If they’d reveal now, he’d be under constant scrutiny to understand how he would be like Elijah. Seemingly, they want him to grow into the man God has called him to be.

Sometimes we are like Zechariah. Sometimes we miss the forest for the trees. We get hung up on the little details that are only a part of a bigger plan. We lose sight of what God’s trying to tell us. We lose sight of his plan because the next step seems impossible. Other times we recognize that we have to be patient. We have to wait to see the plan unveiled. We flip back and forth, but yet God uses us. That’s the most amazing part of this story: of our story.

 

Prayer:

Dear God,

You committed to using Zechariah despite his doubts. We thank you, as you do that with us too. We desire to be patient like Zechariah, but have a hard time with the next step. We ask for your help.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

 

Carol of the Day:

Glory to God in the Highest

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KsndvtFRJ0

 

Family Activity:

Indoor camping

A fun winter activity to spend time together is to pretend to camp but indoors. dedicate an area to have a pretend campfire and share stories around it. You could also set up a tent and roll out a sleeping bag and stay the night “camping”.