Monday, December 12, 2022

Not So

"It's the most wonderful time of the year!" That's what the song says, but I also find it wonderful because of the events we celebrate at this time of the year. Also, it's my birthday! Anyhow, Christians know the Christmas story ad nauseam and the joy around it can sometimes be lost.

There's a part of the Christmas story that I've been thinking about for a while, and it's the first birth - the birth of John the Baptist. John was born three months before Jesus, his more famous cousin, to Elizabeth and Zechariah.

John's birth is also miraculous, and his name even more so.

Malachi prophesied the birth of this child (Malachi 3:1-3), John the Baptist, calling him the messenger who would clear the way for another Messenger. John the Baptist’s birth was a divinely orchestrated event, used by God to reignite remembrance and longing in the hearts of God’s people for the day of the Messiah’s coming. With the help of an angel, Zechariah and Elizabeth conceived a child despite their advanced age. 

Zechariah was offering incense on the golden altar in the Temple, just outside the Holy of Holies, a very great honor. When he saw the angel, he was terrified. But the angel said, “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” (Luke 1:13). In Luke’s Gospel, the angel tells Zechariah, “He (the child) must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:12-15)." Zechariah could not believe the angel’s words because he and his wife were already advanced in age. “How will I know this is so?” he asked incredulously. In response, Gabriel struck him deaf and mute until the day that his son would be born. "The angel answered, 'I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time' (Luke 1:19, 20)."

Zechariah's silence would be a reminder of his doubt. Imagine living with your spouse, and they are silent for nine months; it could be bliss or misery. Imagine him coming home non-verbal, yet prophecy is fulfilled, Elizabeth conceives. During her pregnancy, she is in seclusion, and she has a visit from her cousin Mary, who is pregnant with Jesus. 

After giving birth, eight days later, it's time to name the baby. When it was time to name the baby, everyone expected the parents to name him Zechariah, but Elizabeth said, "not so; his name is John." They then asked Zechariah, and he confirmed the name of John by writing it down. Once he did so, he could speak again and then prophecied (Luke 1:59-79). Those who witnessed this were all amazed.

God works in so many ways that are "Not so." We have expectations like the people around Zechariah did about his child's name. It makes sense; it's what always has been done. Why not? 

How did Elizabeth know her child's name? Elizabeth was a spirit-filled woman. She prophesied about the child Mary carried, Jesus, when she visited her. Zechariah may have also transcribed the entire thing to her when he came home and could not speak. But somehow, Elizabeth knew her son’s name was to be John. The name John (Jehochanan or Jochanan) means the Lord is Gracious.  Her "Not so" was definitive and divinely inspired.

"Not so" can intervene when you have a relationship with God. "Not so" will amaze those around you. "Not so" removes any doubt of who orchestrated the event. "Not so" ultimately points back to God.

Prayer - Dear Lord, we are grateful for your divine directives in the Not So's. May we be attuned to your leading and filled with your Spirit so we can speak and act boldly like Elizabeth. Thank you for the beautiful stories in your Word that only serve to encourage and teach us. Amen.

May you never tire of the "Not so" God orchestrates at Christmas and always. May you never tire of the joy of Christmas.

Has God ever clearly told you "Not so" in a way that defies convention?


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  1. Thanks for this sweet encouragement... I'm going to be listening for the bold "not so" moments in my own life! 🤗 Stopping by from #tuneinthursday

  2. Enjoyed this post and particularly for the reminder about the fascinating birth of John. I did feel that Gabriel was a little judgmental for striking Zecharia dumb. But the not so message is a good one to ground us. Thanks for linking

  3. Thank you for linking up to Whimsy Home Wednesday and sharing this about "Not So" moments. I have had these and didn't have an exact term for it!

  4. What a lovely study on the birth of John the Baptist.


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