Meanderings of a Minister

The Devil is Not in the Details…God Is! (Luke 1:5-9)
December 2, 2010, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Articles
Courtesy of Kenneth Randolph Taylor’s WordPress Blog

For most of us, the story of the conception and birth of John the Baptist are such a well-known story that we fail to truly process the drama of the situation.  As we approach this advent season, we would do well to look with this story with new eyes.  We should open our eyes and hearts to “see” this story anew.

 Notice just how much was involved with making the birth of John the Baptist a possibility.  The scripture says that an angel, or messenger from God, showed up to Zechariah (the Greek spelling for the name Zechariah is Zecharias). 

 First, notice the timing.  The priests of Zechariah’s day were divided up into 24 divisions and each division would serve two times a year for a week at a time in addition to serving for the three major festivals in which all the priests served.  The angel showed up at just right time for Zechariah’s service. 

 In addition to Zechariah’s division being in service, the passage also says that Zechariah was selected by lot to burn the incense in the holy place.  Out of the 750 priests that would have made up his division, Zechariah is chosen to present the prayers of the people before God; thus, ensuring he would alone and quiet and expecting to hear from God.  It was at this point that God delivered His message that an elderly couple would bear a son.  (Where have we heard that before!)

 Next, notice the positioning of people.  We have already mentioned the positioning of Zechariah, but also God had allowed all of the people to be assembled outside so that Zechariah would have an impact on the entire community with the good news that the forerunner of the Messiah was to be born.

 Even more significant is the placement of the angel inside the holy place.  The angel was to the right of the altar of incense.  This would have been the place of the table of showbread.  As you review Exodus 25:23-30, you see that the table of showbread was the place where the bread of God’s presence was to be presented as a reminder of God’s presence with the people.  How fitting that the angel would position himself at this point as that reminder.

 Lastly, notice that the angel knew that Zechariah would be frightened from his awesome appearance and begins his speech to Zechariah the same way most angelic encounters begin:  “Do not be afraid.”

 Having considered all of the story with fresh eyes, we are reminded that God was in the timing, positioning and details of the message.  During this advent season, we can look to God, in faith, that He is still in control of all we face each day.  Whether we are struggling with remembering a loss of a loved one, sweating details of closing the year at work, or even just working feverishly to make sure we have all the right gifts for all the right people, we must take the time to stop to remember and worship the One Who is in control.  It is in this remembrance that we find our greatest hope.  As we run here and there to celebrate the season, let us not forget the One Whom the season is about. 


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