The time had finally come for the fulfillment of the coming of the Messiah, and God chose the Angel Gabriel to make the announcement to Mary.
Gabriel is mentioned four times in Scripture: twice in the Book of Daniel and twice in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke. The only other thing we know about this angel is that he stands in the presence of God. In the Book of Daniel, Gabriel spoke loudly and clearly and delivered a message to Daniel about the coming of the Messiah. Some 500 years later, he spoke in the same manner to a young virgin girl in Nazareth of Galilee, and again he delivered a message about the coming of the Messiah. The plan that God had set forth from before the foundation of the world was coming together.
There was a period of about 400 years between the last writings of the Old Testament and the coming of Jesus that was called the "silent years." During that 400-year period, there is no record of anyone having an encounter with an angel; there was no prophetic word from God; and there was no record of any miracles that took place. After that 400-year period, the Angel Gabriel appeared in the temple in Jerusalem where Zechariah the Priest was serving God and burning incense. When Zechariah saw the angel Gabriel standing between the altar and the golden candlestick in the temple, the Bible says, "He was startled and gripped with fear!" He was standing alone with a messenger from God! That will get your attention! Gabriel said, "Do not be afraid Zechariah your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, is going to have a son, and you are to name him John." Then Zechariah asked, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." And Gabriel said, "God sent me to bring you this good news." And Elizabeth gave birth to a son, John the Baptist.
When Gabriel left Zechariah in Jerusalem, his next assignment was in Nazareth, a distance of about 70 miles, to have a conversation with Mary. Gabriel was about to deliver the most amazing and important birth announcement ever made, and all that was required of Mary was to listen and obey his message. When God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush Moses said, "Here I am!" When he spoke to Samuel in his bedroom, Samuel said, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening." Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, sat at Jesus' feet and listened. Lydia listened to Paul preach the gospel down by the river, and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the message. Had she not been listening, it would have only been so many words! At this point in time, Mary didn't say a word! In fact, she didn't say a word until she had received the whole substance of the message! She was having a divine encounter with God and she was all ears! It was crucial that Mary listened to the instructions that the Lord was speaking to her through Gabriel.
The message that he was about to speak was going to set the scene and the tone for the rest of her life! God's words are still life changing, and we need to listen intently to what He's speaking to us. We will pick up on the story next week!
• Matters of Faith is contributed each week by members of the Du Quoin Ministerial Alliance.