The couple in California made front-page news. They were in their mid-sixties, and she was expecting their first child! A week later a photo of the fine-looking immigrant couple from the Philippines and their beautiful baby daughter was released. After forty years their dreams came true.
What thoughts rush into your mind as you consider the story of the California couple?
Think of an extraordinary personal experience that you could not account for apart from God’s unique intervention. What bigger view of God did you learn from that?
Luke begins his Gospel with a similar sensational event—a couple past their reproductive years also having their first child. But the country into which their son was born was very different from affluent America. Israel was a small, second rate country occupied by imperial Rome. It is 4 B.C. The people had not heard from God in over four hundred years and were starting to wonder if God had forgotten them. Had he reneged on his many promises to send Messiah to deliver them?
The Advent stories may lead you to want to inquire more about angels. The following passages will give you a good starting place. Hebrews 1 gives an overall understanding of angels to people who then were tempted to worship them (see especially verse 14). Angels were active throughout the Old Testament. They witnessed creation (Job 38:7), destroyed evildoers (Genesis 19:1ff.), have warlike potential (Genesis 32:1-22), restrained a false prophet (Numbers 22:21-35), mediated God’s law to Moses (Acts 7:38, 53), served as God’s messengers (Judges 6:11-23), aided his servants (1 Kings 19:5-7) and gave military assistance (2 Kings 19:35). They also strengthened Jesus in temptation (Mark 1:13; Luke 22:43) and were present at his resurrection and ascension (Luke 24:4-7; Acts 1:9-11). They guided the apostles in evangelization as well (Acts 8:26; 10:3-8; 12:7-10; 27:23).