Friday, December 6, 2013

Angelic Messengers

Listening and Obeying

     Our church has been doing One Church, One Book for the past two years. It was created as a way to engage people in their Bible reading and to position us for discussion in our small groups called ACTS (Activating Christians to Service) Fellowships. This month, we are reading through Luke.

     In just the first few chapters, the Father speaks to His children through angels. They are sent as messengers to prepare certain people for a life-changing event, in this case, the births of John and Jesus. I began thinking what it must have been like for Zechariah to be all alone in the portion of the temple where the incense was to be burned only to have an angel appear to him. Zechariah was paralyzed with fear, it says.  The angel proceeded to explain all the Zechariah and Elizabeth should do in raising this child, but Zechariah began to ARGUE with what the angel was telling was going to come to pass! Can you imagine?! First paralyzed with fear and then arguing that it would even happen! 
Next, Mary is greeted by an angel, Gabriel. Now her reaction I could probably relate to better: she was troubled! I've looked through many versions and some say she was confused, shaken, disturbed. The next thing the angel Gabriel says to her, though, is "Do not be afraid." I believe afraid would sum up how I would feel seeing an angel standing before me and bringing a message from the Lord. Not so much paralyzed with fear as Zechariah was, but afraid of what the message from the Lord might be perhaps.
     As the time drew near for Mary to give birth, they travel to Bethlemhem for the census. When Jesus is born, the Bible says that an angel visited some shepherds and proclaimed the birth of the Savior to them. After the angelic message was delivered, the shepherds went quickly, some versions say they ran as fast as they could, to find Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.
     In Matthew, we read that Joseph was visited by an angel through a dream. He was again visited through a dream by an angel who told him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt to flee the wrath of Herod until the news came that Herod had died. Joseph did not hesitate in either situation, but upon waking from the dreams did just as the angel had said. An angel also came to Joseph when Herod had died to alert him that it was safe to return and so they went to Nazareth.
     Finally, an angel visited the three wise men. This angel warned them that after seeing that the Christ child had been born, not to return to Herod for he was deceiving them and did not want to worship the baby but wanted to kill him. The Magi obeyed the angel and never returned to Herod but returned to their own country through a different route.

     In each of these examples, whether they were followers of God or not, when the angels came and told them something to do or to warn them, each group listened and obeyed. Now, Zechariah didn't initially obey and paid the consequence that no unbelief come out of his mouth so his mouth was shut for the nine months until John was born, but he did obey when it came to naming the child. Some folks don't believe there are still angelic visitations today, and that's another discussion we may soon embark on. But the point here is that they were given a message and chose to accept it and obey.
     Today, as we listen and hear from God, we have a choice to listen and obey or to argue, disagree and pick apart the things we are told. This is our opportunity choose to obey the Lord and to hear Him say, "You are my Beloved child in whom I am well pleased."


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