Out of the silence the angels came!
Published 4:42 pm Thursday, December 23, 2010
There had not been a word from Almighty God for 400 years. No prophet, no preacher . . . nothing. Zechariah and Malachi were the last prophets who had a word from God.
The Jews were back in Israel after the Babylonian captivity. The world had changed since God had last spoken through a man. The Babylonians and Persians had faded from power, and Rome was exercising dominion over the known world.
The Jews had been careful to read and obey the scripture they had. The captivity in Babylon had taught them a lesson. The worship in Jerusalem was being conducted strictly by the book. All they had was the law, and the promises and prophecies of God’s men.
The stage was set. The epistle of Galatians 4:4-5, declares, “when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”
It was time for the Messiah to come. For 4,000 years of recorded history, God had been talking about the advent of Jesus. The news was so good and so monumental that the message could not be relegated to mere men. No, something bigger was in store. God was sending angels, not angels incognito, but full-blown angels with blinding light and full regalia.
First, an angel came to the priest Zechariah to announce that he and his wife were going to have a son: John the Baptist. Zechariah was startled and knew he was talking to an angel, but he did not handle it well. He did not believe the angel. Consequently, he was struck speechless for months until John was born (Luke 1:5-22).
Mary was next (Luke 1:26-38). The angel came to her in Nazareth. Mary was troubled by the way the angel greeted her, and by his message because the angel told her she was going to get pregnant. It would not be a normal pregnancy; no man was to be involved. She would conceive by the Holy Spirit. Mary listened to the angel, considered the message, and humbly believed.
Joseph was Mary’s intended husband. Something had to be done. If he found out about the pregnancy in the normal way, he would never believe her. The angel visited Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25). Joseph heard the angel and did exactly what he was told.
The angels were not finished. There were some shepherds in the hills around Bethlehem taking care of their sheep. An angel came and declared the complete story. Then, for confirmation, a whole company of angels showed up and put a big exclamation mark on the message of the incarnation of the Christ child. The shepherds were suitably impressed and hurried off to check out the message of the angels. Everything the angels said was true (Luke 2:8-20)!
The coming of Jesus Christ into the world was a big deal. God made sure that everybody concerned would hear the message loud and clear. The angels broke the 400-year silence and gave the greatest message ever.
Have you heard it? Are you listening? Are you believing?
Nobody wants to end up like Zechariah and be struck speechless for months for not believing.
Have a very blessed Christmas!
The Rev. Dan Puckett is a minister with Life Action Ministries.