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Advent Readings: Day 19

For this Advent season we offer you a Bible reading for each day which points to the first coming of the Lord Jesus at Christmas and his return in glory!

Luke 1:57 - 80

57When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

59On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

61They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

62Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65All the neighbours were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

67His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

68“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73     the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75     in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
80And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.

A few comments

Again there is much that could be said about John’s birth and Zechariah’s explosion of praise. But let us meditate on one theme: When the angel appeared to Zechariah, he was afraid (12). When the neighbours realise that God is at work among them they are awestruck – literally ‘fear came upon them all’ (65). But the angel says ‘don’t be afraid!’ (13) and Zechariah prophesies that the saviour who was promised to Abraham so long ago, and who is soon to be born, as come,

that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear.

We make a tragic mistake if we think God is so trivial and ‘matey’ that we would not be struck dumb with awe and terror if he appeared before us now. We must understand that God is not a tame God; he is not pocket-sized personal genie. He is the unlimited creator God of the Bible. But this frankly terrifying God welcomes us as children and calls us to love him and serve him without fear. Through Jesus Christ we are welcome to approach the unapproachable God and to feel safe in the presence of the one who is a ‘consuming fire’ (Hebrews 12:29).

Point for Prayer

Ask God to help us relate to him rightly – with reverence for he is the mighty God and holy judge; but also with love and confidence for he is the loving Father and forgiving Saviour.