Christmas in August

It is weird to read the first few chapters of Luke this time of year, but many things jump out at me. Luke is such a brilliant writer, and every verse is loaded with detail and meaning. I love the story in chapter one when the messenger Gabriel appears to Zechariah.

Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth live a life that honors God. They grew up with a rich heritage, have given their lives to serve in the temple, and follow the commandments blamelessly. But (that’s a huge BUT) they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well along in years (vs. 7).

And then… an angel of the Lord appeared to Zachariah (v. 11)
And the usual thing happens when people in the Bible see angels. (Zechariah was gripped with fear the angel said, “Do not be afraid.”) Then the angel goes on to tell him his prayer has been heard, he will have a son, and he is to name him John. He will be great in the sight of the Lord. Check out the list of things Gabriel says this son of Zechariah will do (vs. 14- 17).
And now it is Zechariah’s chance to talk, the culmination of his prayers have lead to this point in his life. God has answered him, more clearly than any of us will probably ever hear from God. God has given him a new direction and purpose. And Zech’s response:

“How can I be sure of this?

I am an old man and my wife is well along in years (a polite way of saying she is really old too).”
This was not really the response Gabe was looking for, and check out what happens in verses 19-20.

Have we heard this type of story before? (Genesis 18, Genesis 30, I Samuel 1) Do you think Zechariah being a priest has heard this kind of story before? So why do you think his initial response is to doubt?
And has God ever answered your wild prayers, the ones you are almost scared to pray because you do not think they will actually be answered?

Have you ever come face to face with a new calling or direction that God has given you and your initial response is to doubt?
I feel like Zechariah, in that sometimes God becomes too familiar to me, and when something happens out of the ordinary, it makes me extremely uncomfortable.
How is God surprising you right now, and how are you responding?

Because sometimes God gives us things when we least expect it. And that is why it would be like receiving a Christmas present in August.


  1. I think it's easy to miss the weight of the time element sometimes when we read accounts in the Bible. When God calls us it might even be easy to say "okay, let's do it." But then the process can become so slow and grueling. Or there's all kinds of opposition, from outside and inside the camp, like with Nehemiah. There is usually a cost to follow the Lord's call but, He is faithful and it's worth it. Phil 4:9 "...the God of peace will be with you."

  2. I fully agree with Pam's comments. The calling is almost invariably with significant cost/sacrifice and the process can be painstaking. Witness the examples Jared cites of Abraham and Sarah, Zechariah and Elizabeth and Jacob and Rachel; whilst there is illustration of impatience in these accounts it is worth noting that God's faithfullness prevails and is delivered upon. A commendable reminder of who's timing is really important! p.s. Jared--- since we are on the subject of Christmas, your views on the generally purported date of Christ's birth and how this relates to December 25 (or not)?