Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Servants of God (Luke 1:11-17)

"Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense" (Luke 1:11).

Angels seem to have very little to do with our day-to-day experience, but they are very important in the New Testament. The Greek word usually translated as angel (occasionally as messenger) occurs more times in the New Testament than does the Greek word for love. It occurs more times than the word sin.

Angels surround the life of Jesus. They have two functions. As messengers, they announce very important events with which God is involved. They announced the birth of John and the birth of Jesus. They announced the resurrection of Jesus and His ascension. They will also return again to announce the second coming of Christ. Their second function is to minister to God’s people in times of crisis and trial. They ministered to Jesus in the wilderness, and they ministered to the apostles in the book of Acts.

Zechariah saw an angel standing at the right side of the altar of incense and was overcome with fear. The angel’s first words to him were, “Don’t be afraid.” The angel went on to say “your prayer has been heard.” What prayer is this? We might assume that it was Zechariah’s prayer for a child. While that prayer had indeed been heard, it is probably not what Zechariah was praying at the altar of incense. After all, he and Elizabeth were quite old, and they had long ago given up on the idea of having children. They had prayed for children 30 years ago, and now that prayer was being answered—true enough. But the angel is referring to the prayer Zechariah was praying at that moment. What was it?

Zechariah was offering on behalf of the nation. He was praying for the Messiah to come and save Israel and the world. It is that prayer that was being answered. Their child would be the forerunner of the Messiah.

Just as Zechariah faithfully prayed for the coming Messiah, so we need to earnestly desire and pray for the final coming of the Lord Jesus. Consider this the next time you pray “Thy kingdom come” in the Lord’s Prayer. Make John’s desire in Revelation 22:20 your own.