Advent, Advent Devotional, Christmas, Promised Hope

An Old Prayer Gets Answered

Luke 1

NARRATIVE

God was silent for a long four hundred years. Not one word. Not even another warning.

That’s a lot of silent nights!

It would have been easy to lose hope. To wonder if God had finally given up on the people He loved. To think that maybe the promised people were out of promises. Many believed just that and walked away from the LORD God and His covenant.

But there was a thread of hope, a remnant of hopers. There was a small group of Jews who had clung to promises handed down to them by their faithful parents, who had clung to the same promises passed on to them.

Zechariah and Elizabeth lived outside of Jerusalem, in the hill country of Judea (Judah). They were part of that tattered but faithful remnant. A priest and his wife, well along in years. Another barren womb.

After four hundred years of silent nights, an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah while he was in the temple.

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. 

LUKE 1:16

A son to come in the Spirit of Elijah. The same odd words Malachi had spoken 400 hundred years ago were part of this crazy new promise. What a cliffhanger!

How can I know this?

LUKE 1:18

Zechariah questions the angel. Echoes of Abraham.

Gabriel responded to his doubt.

I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 

LUKE 1:19

After all of that time, God had broken His silence!

Hope broke the silence!

Zechariah went home to Elizabeth. And she conceived.

REFLECTION

Can you imagine? Can you EVEN imagine?! Four hundred years with no word from God? And the first thing He speaks is an answer to an old, expired — a statute of limitations has run out — prayer from an old man and his dead womb wife?

Zechariah was in the temple working, performing his priestly duties. And from out of nowhere, an angel of the Lord appeared to answer an old prayer.

Gabriel soon reminded Zechariah— and us — that he wasn’t from nowhere; He was from the very presence of God. And he broke God’s silence with a promise to answer an old prayer of a faithful couple from the priestly tribe of Aaron.

I would have asked aquestion, too, just like Zechariah. Oh, I would have asked a lot of questions. Why now? Why are You so late in answering my prayer? Why not earlier? I am so old! This would have been much better had You answered my prayer when I was much younger. What in the world were you waiting on? For?

From God’s eternal perspective, things looked differently. They always do.

God’s answer to this old prayer was divinely connected to His promise in the garden. He tied it to the very Promise to which these faithful people had been holding. Their answered prayer was the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy!

Yes. God could have answered this old prayer of Zechariah and Elizabeth earlier. When Zechariah and Elizabeth were young and able —able to do things on their own. Without divine intervention. But God held out so that His power might be displayed, yet again, in a post-menopausal womb! Clearly, dead and barren wombs were the places of miracles.

But even more remarkable still. The womb of the one who would carry the promised Hope of the world, wasn’t ready. Not until now.

PRAYER

Father, it is easy for me to mistake Your silence for Your absence. Oh, Father, so easy! But You are always there. Here. Working out Your plan. For Your glory. And that plan includes me! I want to cling to Your promises, just like Your promised people did for four hundred years.

I am tempted to doubt You when I cannot understand You. Or believe You. Like Abraham and Zechariah, Lord, I often want proof. But You are my proof, Lord. I know I can trust You to be faithful. Help me to know that when I cannot see Your hand, I can trust Your heart. Your ways are not my ways. Indeed, they are, oh, so much better. Amen.

WORSHIP

You have probably heard it said many times that God works in mysterious ways. People say that off the cuff. Tongue in cheek. With little thought. But it is true. He does work in His way and in His timing. And much of it seems mysterious to us.

But, friends, God is trustworthy. You and I are beneficiaries of His written word, His long story of hope and redemption for the people He loved. Loves. And when we can’t see how His plans could possibly be working out, we can trust His heart.

The following words to an old song echo in my heart. I sang it many times years ago, and its truth reverberates in my heart and mind, deep in my soul. Always reminding me.

Reflect on these words today. I pray they echo in your heart and soul as well.

Trust His Heart By Babbie Mason

All things work for our good,
Though sometimes we don’t see
How they could.
Struggles that break our hearts in two,
Sometimes blind us to the truth.

Our Father knows what’s best for us.
His ways are not our own.
So when your pathway grows dim,
And you just don’t see Him,
Remember, you’re never alone.

God is too wise to be mistaken.
God is too good to be unkind.
So when you don’t understand,
When you don’t see His plan,
When you can’t trace His hand
Trust His Heart

He sees the master plan
And he holds our future in His hand,
So don’t live as those who have no hope,
All our hope is found in Him.

We see the present clearly,
But He sees the first and the last.
And like a tapestry, He’s weaving you and me,
To someday be just like Him.

God is too wise to be mistaken.
God is too good to be unkind.
So when you don’t understand,
When you don’t see His plan,
When you can’t trace His hand,
Trust His Heart.

He alone is faithful and true. He alone knows what is best for you.

God is too wise to be mistaken.
God is too good to be unkind.
So when you don’t understand,
When you don’t see His plan,
When you can’t trace His hand,
Trust His Heart.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s