“You are to give him the name John. He will 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.”
The Hebrew people lived in Egypt for about 400 years. It was a time that became more and more difficult for them as the spiritual darkness seemed to increase and, with it, the hardship of their enslaved lives. God had apparently been silent. Then, suddenly for them, God began to act and within a very short space of time they were being led out by Moses into a new life and a new relationship with God.
Now about 400 years had passed since God had spoken through Malachi – and He had been very quiet. No prophetic voice had been heard in the land. Suddenly again things began to change, even if very few people were aware of it. It commenced with an angel appearing to Zachariah, a priest of God, whilst he was busy at the altar of incense in the Temple. He told Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth, who was well past the age of having children, would become pregnant with their first child. He would be the one who would go before the Lord to prepare His way.
No specific mention was made of the coming of the Messiah but it clearly was immanent. Although God had been quiet He had not been absent. He had made His plans and He was very specific.
Things were beginning to happen. A new beginning was just around the corner.
Zechariah did not respond too well when he asked how he could be sure that all this was true, since it was humanly impossible. For this doubt he was struck dumb until the child was born – but God still acted in accordance with His word.
We too can go through periods of doubt and darkness when God seems distant, and our fears are raised. Times when the voice of God, and the Word of God, has not been very evident or valued in the world in which we live. Nevertheless He is still with us as He promised He would be. Individuals still honour and bear witness to His love, light and life as He works in, through and around them.
He is still active and we must ensure that we do not fall into the trap of imagining that the state in which we find the world and ourselves is too much for God to handle – or that He has got bored with the whole idea.
Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, the Holy Spirit is our Guide and Comforter, and the Father is, as always, the God of Love. We press in to them more and more every day.
Read the Word, pray continually, live for the Lord. Encourage others.
Father, Your Word speaks to me every day, for my guidance, strength and encouragement. Please help me to read, mark, learn, and digest all that it says to me. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.