By Anne Ferrell Tata
The term advent is a Latin translation of a word that means “arrival” or “approach.” In the Christian faith, Advent is a season of preparation as we wait the arrival of Jesus' birth. Many of the Old Testament prophets prepared the Israelites with a promise: the arrival of the Savior. The prophet Isaiah, for example, offered hope and assurance to King Ahaz of Judah in the middle of adversity. Isaiah said, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 (NKJV) Regardless of our circumstances or what we may face today, the same hope and assurances are offered to us in the Person of Jesus Christ. God has sent His Son, Immanuel, God with us, to comfort, guide, protect and LOVE us. As we await the arrival of this year's celebration of Jesus' birth, let's look at three people who were eyewitnesses to the promised arrival of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Zacharias was a priest during the reign of King Herod. An angel appeared as Zacharias was burning incense in the temple. Zacharias was terrified, but the angel told him not to be afraid. The angel had great news. Zacharias' prayers had been heard, and his wife, Elizabeth who had not been able to conceive and was now very old, would have a son, and his name would be John. He said John would be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb, and John would fulfill the prophecy in Malachi 4:6, “His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.” Malachi 4:6b (NLT) The angel also told him that John would turn “the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:17 (NIV) John would be the voice crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord. Unfortunately, Zacharias did not believe the angel. Therefore, the angel told the priest that he would be mute until these things took place. Zacharias is a lot like we are. The Bible is filled with God's promises. We are told over and over not to worry or fret but to trust in the Sovereignty of God. God loves us and has a plan for us. Why do we question? Why do we fear? God had a destiny for John, and He has a destiny for us and our children. Will we seek Him? Will we believe His promises?
We serve a God of grace and second chances. Zacharias was redeemed. When he was finally able to speak, and in front of his people, the presence of God filled him with joy. He praised God and declared, “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people.” Luke 1:68 (NKJV) Zacharias also prophesied about his son John and John's destiny declaring, “You will tell his people how to find salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.” Luke 1:77 (NLT) What can we learn from Zacharias? How do we respond to God's call? Can you share a time when you believe God gave you a sign and you responded in obedience?