Zechariah and Angels...
I’ve decided that one of the things I’ll do over the next few weeks is look at some of the characters in the biblical narrative of the Christmas story and try and draw something out of each story that might help and challenge us as we seek to walk with God through this Christmas season. But I also thought that I don’t want to necessarily make each thought the ‘tried and tested’ application of each character/story: not that there is anything wrong with this; but just that I wanted to see if there was anything more (which there almost certainly is) that one might draw from the narrative. [And I preface this attempt with the fact that I’m not using commentaries; I’m not delving deep into each passage; I’m ‘just’ asking God to show me something that I might not have seen.]
And with Zechariah the thing that grabbed me was this: he saw an angel!
Now I realise that sounds kind of obvious! And the question that I naturally want to ask is: ‘could he not have seen Gabriel?’ But I think the point that I’m wanting to make, whether it is entirely justified from Luke’s narrative or not, is that Zechariah must have been pretty spiritually switched on. I remember a few years ago being at a worship time in which someone stood up and said that they could see an angel in the room that we were worshipping in. I couldn’t; and I’m not sure that many others could either. And yet, bonkers as it might sound, I trust the integrity of that person and believe that they shared what they believed to be true. I have another friend who believes that an angel saved him from serious injury in a motorbike accident overseas many years ago when he was thrown from the bike but just before hitting the floor felt as if he was almost lowered onto the road. And so I believe that angels are real, and I believe that some people see them and experience them today, even when that goes against my own experience or inherited worldview.
But back to Zechariah – who the biblical story makes it clear really did see an angel. And looking at Zechariah’s story (as well as my assumption that he was switched on to the possibility) there are two things I notice – albeit this is not intended as a fail safe approach to beginning to see angelic visitors all around: he was serving God; and he was worshipping God.
Wherever we are at with angels and the potential for us to see them or not, I’m sure that very few of us would not love to encounter more of God and to know the Spirit speaking more clearly to us. And so leaning on and learning from Zechariah might I put forward the challenge and reminder that if we want to see more of the supernatural power of God at work (which I certainly do!) that we need to be expectant; we need to be serving; and we need to be worshipping.
And the season of Advent is the perfect time for us to grow more in these three things: because it is the season in which we look forward with expectation to the birth of the God who came not to be served but to serve and who alone is worthy of all our worship. And if this leads to us seeing and encountering more of God’s supernatural power at work in our lives then great! And if it doesn’t it doesn’t matter because we will be all the better for it anyway as we seek to walk with Jesus all year round…