“In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” Luke 1:5–6
Zacharias and Elizabeth were childless in old age, and lived in bleak days for their nation—both spiritually and morally. Yet, they were not hopeless or prayer-less as they waited for the promised Messiah. This Christmas, as we await His return, we too find ourselves living in dark spiritual days. Even though the world is preparing for Christmas, much of it has nothing to do with Christ. This couple’s story and godly example demonstrate how to prepare for Christmas in dark times.
Zacharias was a priest, who apparently hadn’t fallen into the religious traditionalism and corruption so prevalent among other priests. And the fact that Elizabeth was barren brought a certain stigma in their day. It took great faith for Zacharias and Elizabeth to live in obedience in their culture and in their situation. But it was their perseverance that prepared them to be used of God in an incredible way.
Eventually, Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist, who God used to prepare the hearts of His people for the Messiah. God had also been preparing Zacharias and Elizabeth for John. Time and again in Scripture God reveals Himself to those who hope in Him alone. He often brings great blessing when things are at their worst; when He is the only One who can possibly do something. By withholding children from Elizabeth during the usual child-bearing years, there was no question that this child, Christ’s forerunner, came from the hand of God.
The world is overwhelmingly unreceptive to the message of Jesus Christ. At times, it’s even hostile to those who follow Him. So, how do we go about preparing for Christmas in dark spiritual days? By devoting our hearts to God, regardless of anything else. Faithfulness prepares us to receive the joy and hope of Christmas. It doesn’t really matter what’s under your tree or what’s on your dinner table. Let’s truly celebrate Christmas by proclaiming the arrival of our Lord, even as we look for His return!