on Preparation for Advent

on Preparation for Advent December 6, 2020

We started last week with hope and Joseph.  We will start this week with preparation for another main character.

Patheos | Shepherding category |

Hopefully, we’ll be able to see the themes of joy and love as well in the next couple weeks, with the main characters from the story of Christ’s birth.

Luke 1.5-6

Both Zechariah and Elizabeth are righteous.  They are both part of the priestly class.  Zechariah is chosen to enter the holy of holies (verse 9).

on Preparation
for Advent

Luke 1.7

As he prepares to enter the holy of holies (verse 9), part of his personal prayer could have been prayer for his barren wife Elizabeth.  Her time had already come and gone for such things.

Luke 1.8-10

Most likely, he and the other priests are praying for atonement and for advent of the Messiah, based on the prophecies.  The Messiah’s atonement would fulfill the signs that the Temple sacrifices point to.  It is a moment of preparation, of looking forward to the Messiah.

Little does Zechariah know this will be a moment of preparation for he and Elizabeth as they bring forth the one who will prepare the way for the Messiah.

In some ways, everyone is on the same page in their prayers that day, without realizing it.

Luke 1.11-13

The archangel Gabriel appears to Zechariah as John’s biological father.  Gabriel appears to Mary as our Lord’s biological mother.

John and Elizabeth are still holding on to the hope of having a child, still praying, although that may not be the focus of his prayers on this day.

The name John means Yahweh has been gracious.

Luke 1.21-25

I’m skipping a portion of this chapter on purpose.  I don’t want to forget about the fact that John is a real Bridger between Malachi and The Gospel, the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.  The prophecy is right from Malachi, basically a Holy Spirit directed renewal that changes lives.

I’m intentionally overlooking Zechariah’s doubt, leading to his silence, because that seems to work itself out in the story.

However there is something to the silence.  Zechariah and Elizabeth choose their own form of silence.

Some consider their silence to be a sign.  Doom and gloom preachers (aka Debbie Downer) could easily point to Zechariah and Elizabeth’s silence as a sign of those who doubted the prophets under the old covenant.  The silence is a stark reminder of approximately 400 years of silence during the Intertestamental Period.

I’m not sure I completely agree, but it’s an optional interpretation.

Silence is often necessary for preparation

Silence, like any other practice of abstaining like fasting, is sometimes necessary for re-ordering our steps or for re-centering.

Zechariah and Elizabeth are in a transition.  They prepare in silence.  Obviously, Elizabeth may want to make sure the pregnancy is working out.

They prepare in silence because there will be some changes.  Although they have a clean and priestly home, they will now prepare their home the arrival and diet.  Their son John will be a Nazirite (verse 15).  The Holy Ghost will be upon John in a mighty way, partially because of what John abstains from.

In silence, they don’t raise too many eyebrows in the community in preparation for John’s arrival.  They’re keeping it on the DL so to speak.

In some mysterious way, both Elijah and Malachi’s prophecy are a preparation for John the Baptist.  Because of the faithful service and preparation of Zechariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist spends his life preparing to prepare the way for the Messiah.

We don’t much of John’s life from this point until he starts baptizing.  We don’t know much of Jesus’ life either.  We do know they’re both probably silent for 30 years until they launch Christ’s ministry at the Jordan River.  In their silence there is preparation, great preparation that is being made, for the emerging Messiah.

Luke 1.67-79

The song of Zechariah, often known as the Benedictus, is still sung or chanted by Christians on a regular basis.  The time to break the silence has come.  God miraculously allow Zechariah to speak, and he begins to spontaneously worship the Lord vociferously.

Zechariah is filled with the Holy Spirit and he prophesies.  He gives the church one of her most beloved, prophetic songs.

When our hope seems to be lost…

When any preparation seems to be an exercise in futility…

when we’ve quit preparing all together for what God may do next…
may we simply remember the story of Zechariah.

When we do have an assurance, gain discernment, a prophecy or a promise…
we would do well to remember this priestly couple.
They’re in a season of preparation in complete silence.
May the promise be enough as we enter a season of preparation.

When our time of the preparation is fulfilled…
may no one be able to buy our silence.

It’s as if Zechariah is still saying:

Just sit back and relax and bless the Lord.
I hope everybody behaves and follows the Covenant.
We are preparing as a family,
but the time of preparation is at hand,
to be led forward into the Messiah’s way of peace.

Patheos | Shepherding category |

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