Advent 2019: Day 5 – Hope Realized

Much has transpired since Daniel and his friends.  Around 500 years have gone by.  The Temple was destroyed and rebuilt. The Romans have taken control of Israel. We are about to see hope fulfilled in Zechariah, Elizabeth and their son John.

Zechariah and Elizabeth were childless.  Not only were they childless, but they were not past the age where they could even have children.  Now, Zechariah was a priest and Elizabeth was from a lineage of priests.  So this couple were dedicatedJews. One day, while Zechariah was doing his priestly duties of giving prayer to God in the Temple, and angels came to visit.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him 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. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

 

Luke 1:11-17 NIV

 

We don’t know what Zechariah was praying for.  Was the angel referring to past prayers or the current prayer?  Could it be that Zechariah had been praying for the Messiah that had been foretold?  It is possible.  The Jewish people have been waiting and hoping for the Messiah for hundreds of years. WE can actually say that they’d been waiting for Satan’s head to be crushed for about 4,000 years!  So it is very possible he was offering up a prayer of anticipation for the coming Messiah.  But, whether he was praying for the Messiah or for a child, whether it was that day’s prayer or a past prayer, Zechariah was getting an answer!

Zechariah and Elizabeth were going to have a son!  Not only would they get a son, but this son would bring the people of Israel back their Lord God, he would have the spirit and power of Elijah, he would turn people to the ways of righteousness, and he would prepare a way for the Lord!!!  Can you imagine?!

Zechariah felt this was a little too good to be true.  He was getting a son AND this son was going to herald in the Messiah? He asked the angel how he could know that this was true.

 

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

Luke 1:18-20 NIV

 

That was exactly what happened.  However, Zechariah was filled with joy.  Despite being chastised and punished by the angel, he ran out and tries to tell the crowds about what had happened.  His joy was overflowing because his long held hopes were coming true:  his hope for a son and his hope for the Messiah.

Zechariah was unable to speak until after the child was born and he insisted that they name the boy John, as the angel had said. When he started speaking, he started prophesying. You can hear the hope he had for his child and the coming Messiah.

His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

 

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

 

Luke 1:67-79 NIV

 

Look at the hope that is in this.  His son would prepare the way for the Lord.  The covenant with Abraham was going to be fulfilled.  God would save them from their enemies.  People’s sins would be forgiven.  They would receive mercy. There would be light in the darkness. There would be peace. All the things that the Jewish people had been waiting for, longing for, and yearning for were starting to be realized.  And his son was the start of it!

The news of this spread throughout the area as not only did Zechariah miraculously get his voice back, but then he told everyone that the Messiah would be coming because his son was the one to prepare for him!  The news probably spread like wildfire, igniting hope within everyone’s heart.

You see, God fulfills his promises.  When we see our hopes realized, the joy that comes forth cannot be contained.  Our spirits are lifted, we praise God, and our outlook changes.  Hope fulfilled leads to joy and praise.  During Advent, we focus on hope.  This time period is the epitome of hope stories.  Prophecies fulfilled, expectation for the future Messiah, and the promise of restoration with God.

Much like the Jews looked forward to the Messiah, we look forward to the Messiah’s return.  We have our own prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled.  Jesus told us that he is preparing a place for us, and that he will return to get us to take us to heaven.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

 

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

 

John 14:1-7 NIV

 

Jesus’ promise to us is that if we truly know him, then we will have a place with him for all eternity, and he is personally preparing that place for us.  Now that is something to hope for.  No more pain, no more injustice, no more sorrow.  A place of restoration, prepared by Jesus himself just for us, where we can be with him forever.  That is our true place as believers.


PRAYER

Almighty,

Thank you for sending your son to earth.  Thank you for allowing us to read about Zechariah’s hopes fulfilled.  Thank you for allowing us to see the joy and excitement that hope fulfilled brings.  Thank you for showing us that our hopes will be fulfilled.

Jesus, thank you for preparing a place for me. Thank you for giving us a way to spend eternity with you. Jesus I hope in the time when you will return and bring justice to the earth, when you will take your people to be with you.  I yearn for that time.  I yearn for a place with nothing but righteousness.  I yearn for a body made whole.  I yearn for you.

Stay with me and encourage me as I wait on you.  Continue to burn hope within me.  Help me keep my eyes focused on you and your promises.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen


EXTRAS

  1. Has God fulfilled a hope in your life?
  2. Do you hope in the future that God has for you?
  3. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in seeing the hope God has for you.

 


TRADITIONAL ADVENT READINGS FOR DAY 5

Psalm 18:1-20

Psalm 18:21-50

Amos 4:6-13

2 Peter 3:11-18

Matthew 21:33-46

 

 


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Posts for Advent 2019

Advent 2019: Day 24 – Jesus’ Birth

Tomorrow is the day we celebrate Jesus’ birth! What better way to observe Christmas than to read the account from the Bible.

Advent 2019: Day 22 – Peace

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