Blessing Before the Christmas Story
Some of the greatest blessings of the Christmas season occur before Christmas day. The parties and the traveling and the Christmas caroling are all fun and exciting and they all happen before Christmas day. In the Bible, there are some really incredible things that happen before the manger ever enters into the picture. One of those incredible things is the birth of John the Baptist. In Luke 1 we read about some amazing circumstances surrounding John’s birth. Though John doesn’t have an immaculate conception, he has a pretty miraculous conception. We read part of the story beginning in verse 5: 5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.
8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Zacharias the priest is just minding his business, doing his service before the Lord, and God steps miraculously into his life. An ordinary day turns into an extra-ordinary day. One thing I like about this story is that Zacharias and Elizabeth were righteous before God. They were doing their best to follow God’s law and to keep His commandments. Yet, they had no child. In that day, childlessness was considered by the people, not God, to be a sign of God’s disfavor. Yet, Zacharias and Elizabeth did not turn their backs on God. They continued to serve Him, faithfully and consistently, and then “WHAM” God steps into their lives, two very ordinary people get an extra-ordinary promise. They are going to have a baby, after Elizabeth was considered barren or unable to conceive because of her age. And this baby is a special baby. Their baby is going to be John the Baptist, the forerunner for Jesus. John’s mission is to prepare the way for Jesus. We will read more about this birth later.
As your Christmas season unfolds, please don’t think that the only blessing you can find is what happens on Christmas morning. Rather, keep your eyes open. Keep your ears open for God’s voice. Perhaps He will step into your life this month in an extra-ordinary way…remember, there is often blessing before Christmas day!
Merry “Before” Christmas!