Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
“And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God out of the angel’s hand.”
John the Baptist, the appointed forerunner of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, was born of Zachariah, a priest in the order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth. Both were found blameless in observing the commandments and ordinances of God. According to the custom of the priesthood, Zachariah’s lot fell to burn incense in the temple of God. During the service, Gabriel, the Arch Angel of God appeared to him, and Zachariah was gripped with fear. Gabriel announced that God has heard Zachariah’s prayers and He will bless him with a son. Both Zachariah and his wife were very old and therefore Zachariah would not believe the Angel. As a result of his unbelief, Zachariah had to go through a period of silence (he lost his ability to speak) till John the Baptist was born.
John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb. God had pre-ordained him for his mission as the forerunner of the Messiah. He led many in Israel to Jehovah by administering the baptism of repentance. He was uncompromising to any kind of sin. He boldly exposed King Herod to the King’s failing moral standard. Eventually John the Baptist was executed by the King, and he became the first martyr for the cause of Christ.
The Season of Advent starts with the annunciation to Zachariah. Depending on the calendar that is followed (Julian or Gregorian), the date of this annunciation falls on November 15 or November 28. According to Orthodox tradition, the fasting season starts on the day of ‘Annunciation to Zachariah’ and ends on the day of Christmas. The Indian Orthodox Church, however, begins its Advent fast on December 1.The preparation for Christmas starts on the Sunday following the Hoodosh Etho or Sunday of Dedication of the Church. The Orthodox Churches declare the Annunciation to Zechariah of the birth of John the Baptist by Angel Gabriel on this Sunday.
The disciples were promised at the Mount of Olives that one day, Jesus will surely return to earth. The Book of Revelation describes the events that will take place at the time of Jesus’ second coming. When Zachariah went in the temple to burn incense, the worshippers were praying outside (Luke 1:10). In the Book of Revelation, we read that the prayers of the saints along with the smoke of incense went up before God. God answered the prayer and oblation of Zachariah by sending the Arch Angel Gabriel to proclaim the birth of John the Baptist. Just as Zachariah got the answer for his prayers, we see that the prayers of the saints were answered, and Christ sets up His everlasting Kingdom on earth (Rev. 11:15).
Arch Angel Gabriel had an annunciation to Zachariah and so does John the Revelator, an annunciation to the church that Jesus is coming soon. ‘Look, I am coming soon.’ (Rev. 22:7). We respond to this annunciation by crying out in unison ‘Amen, Lord Jesus come.’ (Rev. 22:20).
Enable us, dear Lord, by the Holy Spirit to wait patiently and walk steadfastly in faith till You come to take us home.
Thought of the Day
“Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” (Psalms 2:12).
Abraham Mammen, Sehion Mar Thoma Church, Dallas…….