Promise (Luke 1:5-25)
The Old Testament ends with a weather forecast. Malachi says ‘Count on it that a dark and black day is coming for all the arrogant people who do evil things! But for those who honour God’s name, on that day the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. And you shall go out leaping like calves from the stall on the first day of spring. It will be a day of justice and healing and victory. And one like Elijah will clear the way for that Big Day of God.’ The only thing is that God said this, and not the weather man. It wasn’t a calculated probability, but a glorious promise.
About 400 years went by. Then we find Zechariah, a priest, on his one turn in life to enter the temple of God and burn incense. Zechariah and Elizabeth are old and don’t have children, it hadn’t worked for them. Back then this was a big thing, it meant no heir, no social security, and a lot of frowning from the neighbours. Although he was a priest and they were godly, by no means they seemed likely candidates for leading roles in God’s Redemption Play.
As we said, Zechariah. He is there now, in the temple. And then, out of nowhere, appears Gabriel. And Gabriel brings God’s message that Elizabeth will conceive, and leaping joy will come with it, that baby John will grow to be like Elijah to clear the way for the Big Day of God, to get the people ready for God. God has seen their pain and he has not forgotten his promise! And God’s answer brought the two together.
Zechariah’s surprise and unbelief make him likeable and like us. Many things of our faith are mind-boggling, not in the least the fact that God particularly and deeply loves the unstable, the overlooked, the wounded, the simple, and the outcast. God chose you, and he says:
‘Don’t fear. I have heard your prayers. I have seen your waiting. I know your struggle. And I want you to know firsthand that the sun of righteousness has dawned with healing in its wings, because the Day of Christ is now. Your part in my Redemption Play is important to me. My promise is peace and it is for you.’
Do you believe it?
O come, all you unfaithful
Come, weak and unstable
Come, know you are not alone
O come, barren and waiting ones
Weary of praying, come
See what your God has done
Christ is born, Christ is born
Christ is born for you