Yesterday’s devotion ended with Zechariah standing in the Holy Place of the temple, as all the assembled worshippers were praying outside. And there in that place, God finally spoke...
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get an angel announcing any of my four children birth. Yet it's not unheard of in the Old Testament. Remember the announcements of Isaac (Gen 16:10-11; 17:15-19; 18:10-15), Jacob and Esau (Gen 25:23), or even Samson (Judg 13:3-21). Neither is it the first time God has chosen to bless a barren woman with children. We find God allowed a number of women to be barren for a season, before blessing her with child (Sarah, Gen 18:11; Rebekah, Gen 25:21; Rachel, Gen 29:31; Samson’s mother, Judg 13:2, 5; Hannah, 1 Sam 1:9-20).
But it’s not the expectant mother who receives this birth message, but instead it’s Zechariah. We’ll explore Zechariah’s response further in tomorrow’s devotion, as we look at both Zechariah and Elizabeth together. Today, let’s focus on their expected child - John.
The coming of John will bring great joy, not only to his formally barren parents, but joy to many due to his preparing the way for somebody far greater than himself.
As the angel explains to Zechariah why this son of his will bring great joy, there are three specific elements of John’s joy bringing ministry…
Going Before - Now of course we know that John’s purpose is tied to the coming Messiah, but since Christ hasn’t been introduced yet, John’s role is to “go before” (or represent) the Lord God before His people, in a similar way that the prophet Elijah once acted in this manner.
Turning - Just as Elijah called Israel to turn back to a life of obedience, so too will John call Israel to turn back to God. This is complete reconciliation; extending beyond just a reconciled relationship with God, but also to a reconciled relationship with each other (i.e. parents with their children).
Preparing - John’s role is to create a “prepared people’ for the Lord. Bringing back memory of Isaiah 43, as God himself draws together his remnant, calling them to Himself. That now is the role that John has been called to, preparing God’s people to be ready for their coming salvation.
Questions To Reflect Upon
What stands out to you in John’s ministry of ‘Going Before’, ’Turning’, and ‘Preparing’?
How does this shape your life right now, and the way you live this advent season?
Is there something specifically that God is calling you to respond to right now?