Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
(The Advent: Faces within the Christmas Story.)
Luke 1:13-14 (NIV)
But the angel said to him: “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. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth…
Luke 1:13-14 (MSG)
But the angel reassured him, “Don’t fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You’re going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you—many will delight in his birth.
“But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, because your petition [in prayer] was heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have great joy and delight, and many will rejoice over his birth…” -AMPLIFIED
John, the prophet-to-be, was prophesied of by both Malachi and Isaiah. His name means “The Lord is Gracious”; and indeed we will find how gracious God is through the continuing of our story. (The footnote in the Amplified Version tells us this, “John the Baptist is considered the last of the Old Testament prophets.)
Malachi’s prophecy about John went like this, “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will prepare and clear the way before Me. And the Lord [the Messiah], whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.” -Malachi 3:1 (AMP)
Isaiah’s prophecy was this, “A voice is wailing, “In the wilderness, get it ready! Prepare the way; make it a straight shot. The Eternal would have it so. Straighten the way in the wandering desert to make the crooked road wide and straight for our God. Where there are steep valleys, treacherous descents, raise the highway; lift it up; bring down the dizzying heights.
Fill in the potholes and gullies, the rough places. Iron out the shoulders flat and wide. The Lord will be, really be, among us. The radiant glory of the Lord will be revealed. All flesh together will take it in. Believe it. None other than God, the Eternal, has spoken.” -Isaiah 40:3-5 (VOICE)
Gabriel informed Zechariah that this baby his wife Elizabeth would have would be a son and this son was to be called John. This son, that they had waited so long for, would be a joy and delight; not only to his parents, but to many, many people. We find when John was born that the neighbors rejoiced with Zechariah and Elizabeth. “Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown His great mercy toward her, and they were rejoicing with her.” -Luke 1:57-58 (AMP)
We find that the impact that John was having was just beginning. We see a few verses further along that the story of John had caused quite the stir. “A sense of reverence spread through the whole community. In fact, this story was spread throughout the hilly countryside of Judea. People were certain that God’s hand was on this child, and they wondered what sort of person John would turn out to be when he became a man.” -Luke 1:65-66 (VOICE)
This babe would grow to be a man; yes, but he was a little different than the average man. John would be set aside to do something extremely special for God and because of this from birth he was to follow the standards of the Nazirite vow. “This son of yours will be a great man in God’s sight. He will not drink alcohol in any form; instead of alcoholic spirits, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit from the time he is in his mother’s womb. Here is his mission: he will turn many of the children of Israel around to follow the path to the Lord their God.” -Luke 1:15-16 (VOICE)
Gabriel shared with Zechariah this little bit of info that would prepare John’s parents a little bit for this extraordinary child that they were to raise. “Do you remember the prophecy about someone to come in the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah; someone who will turn the hearts of the parents back to their children; someone who will turn the hearts of the disobedient to the mind-set of the just and good? Your son is the one who will fulfill this prophecy: he will be the Lord’s forerunner, the one who will prepare the people and make them ready for God.” -Luke 1:17 (VOICE)
Suffice it to say, John had been created by God for a special purpose. John would be the prophet, the forerunner, the messenger, the one who would point folks to the Messiah. He had his job cut out for him too. For the spiritual atmosphere of this time was far from where it needed to be. John would lead the nation of Israel to a place of repentance and confession of sin. He was indeed preparing the people for the coming of their Messiah.
John was set apart to do great things for God. Just a reminder to all of us, as children of the Most High, we too have been called to be set apart to be used for His purposes. “For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.” -Ephesians 2:10 (VOICE)
Lord God, you have created me to do great things for you; just as you did John. Help me to keep that in the forefront of my mind. I do not want to settle for the hum-drum, but I want to be about my Father’s business doing great things for you. Each of your children are fearfully and wonderfully made. Help me to remember in every situation that I have been set apart to you, Lord. Help me to always remember that I am a chosen person, a royal priest, coming from a holy nation; your very own God.