Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Daily Bible Reading: Luke 1:5-17

In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Comments: John Baptist was from the temple aristocracy. His father was a priest. They were “righteous people”, an important designation in the Gospels. Righteous person or just person were those who lived out the law of Moses with compassion. John Baptist was dedicated to God at his birth—to be a nazir, a holy man. He became a prophet to the badly fractured Judean society.

Prophets are often seen as demanding and hard line, but I do not think that is true. Prophets merely see the cleavage between that which honors God and that which leads us away from God. Often it is difficult to see when I am on the edge of losing focus on Christ. Preparing my heart for the coming of Christ requires vigilance that I cannot always develop for myself. It is the prophets in my life that help me stay on track and allow me to be prepared for Christ when he comes.

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