Christmas Day 2
I am so glad that Luke included the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth and the birth of John the Baptist in his recounting of the coming of Jesus to earth. He relates to his readers the agony and ecstasy of a life of faith - the struggle that often accompanies walking with our God of Promise to realize fulfillment that only God can bring about. It is included to help those of us who may find ourselves in the middle of such a struggle, not understanding why our hope is deferred, trying to cope with what appears as a death of a dream or vision.
We read that before the angel Gabriel appears to Zacharias to announce good news about fulfillment of his desire for a son, he and his wife were already in the stages of defeat and hopelessness - they are now too old to have children and Elizabeth's womb is now beyond just barren. We can see that Gabriel's announcement of heaven's plan is met with pain, bitterness and unbelief. This is a very real place in our human experience that can rob every son and daughter of God of their future destiny yet reserved in heaven to come into play for their inexpressible joy and God's glory. Unfortunately, many who started out with a vibrant hope in God's goodness and promises have been caught in this tar pit, never to move forward, living in a reduced version of the purpose for which they were born.
Sometimes the seemingly insignificant words of the Bible carry hidden treasures if you know the ways of God. How about these in v. 8? "Now it happened....". Other more literal translations of this text say it this way: "And it came to pass....". Why am I making a big deal out of this? Because it reveals how our breakthroughs and fulfillments come about historically in our lives - our "What ifs" become reality.
The Greek word translated "now" or "and" in this verse is used to reflect that a change is about to be released from heaven, regardless of what has been happening up to that point and the normal earthly flow of events that define our normal. Something new is coming from the Lord of Hosts. The Greek words for "it happened" or "it came to pass" used by Luke reflect that the change is being birthed or breaking through by God's creative power to shift our normal into alignment with His prepared plans that override our earthly limitations and previous history.
While that right there excites me and stirs my hope, it is even more important to note that Luke is telling us that while God was setting this up for Zacharias and Elizabeth, they did not know it! Zacharias was just in the flow of his priestly duties, which included the opportunity to offer up incense in the temple once in his lifetime. He was chosen by lot to be the one that year to do this. But he did not know the greater life-changing event that was about to take place that day when he entered into the holy place to offer incense to God. He was stepping, without knowing it, into the Kairos Time of God for his life and the fulfillment of fathering an amazing son that was to be born to him in his "beyond fruitful" years. Kairos is the Greek word used in the Bible for heaven's timing that carries divine purpose when it intersects with our earthly historical time.
If you have the eyes of faith to see beyond the normalities and limitations of this life that so often suck the life out of us and leave us with hopelessness and living a life accepting lack of fulfillment, you can look beyond to something greater reserved in the heart of God's good plans for you. This is how the Bible defines faith - seeing the unseen, not walking by sight, a mind set on things above, not trusting in our own understanding or perceptions of current realities but in God Who is always working on our behalf.
Zacharias had given up and was living in reduced expectations for his future. So he was not perceiving that God was changing things. He was not ready to receive the word of God's fulfillment from the angel Gabriel on that heavenly appointed day. Contrast that with his wife Elizabeth who would go on to say, "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord" (v. 45).
In Genesis 28 we read that Jacob, as he was running in his own strength away from his negative circumstances, stopped for the night to sleep. But he awoke from a dream in which he saw the Lord operating over His life with awesome heavenly power. His waking words reflect our common experience: "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. How awesome is this place!" Jacob would never look at his life or future the same way.
Point to ponder: What might the Lord of Hosts, your Heavenly Father and His angels, be up to right now in your life that you cannot see or have imagined? Have you asked Holy Spirit to give you eyes of faith to see the unseen in your limitations and struggles? Are there signs of "heavenly possibilities" moving around you right now that you may not have attributed to a breakthrough and fulfillment of your dream from God? This Christmas season is a good time to start praising the Lord in advance for what He is doing right now and begin to prophesy your fulfillment! Angels are waiting....