In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah ... (Luke 1:5a)
"In the days of Herod," says Luke. It's easy to skip over those words, to treat them as a date and nothing more. Yet if we do that, we miss something important.
Who was this Herod, king of Judea? Well, he was a genius in some ways—a great builder in particular. But that's not all he was. Here are some other words that fit. Foreign ruler. Lavish spender. Conniver. Madman. Murderer. Killer of his wife and children. Terrorist.
Given the history of Herod, Luke is probably not just setting a date. He is reminding us what those days were like. Can you imagine living under such a ruler? Dark days indeed. It would be easy to lose hope. It would be easy to feel abandoned by God, left to suffer in a meaningless world.
But that was exactly the time God chose to send the angel Gabriel to Zechariah. "You will have a son," he said. "Your son will get people ready for the coming of the Lord." The light is about to dawn in the darkness. God has not forgotten His people!
We, too, live in dark days. War. Abuse. Greed. Ecological disaster. Racism. Terrorism. It's easy to be terrified at what is coming upon our world.
And yet, God says to us, "Look up. I have not abandoned you. I am sending My Son Jesus to be your Savior. He will destroy the powers of darkness and rescue you from evil. Darkness will not have the last word. My Son shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome Him" (see John 1:5).
THE PRAYER: Dear Father, when we are afraid, help us to hope in Your Son Jesus. Amen.
* What is frightening to you in our world right now?
* When you are afraid, what do you do to find comfort?
* How does Jesus' death and resurrection make a difference for you when you are afraid?
Advent Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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