Gabriel continued to watch silently as the old priest stood gazing through the smoke of burning incense at the heavy curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. These rooms which mirrored the Eternal's actual throne room in heaven were, he had heard, places in which the priests most felt the presence of the Most High. The angel waited patiently as Zechariah knelt down and began to pray. The Lord had told him to expect this and to reveal himself at a precise moment.
It amazed Gabriel that the Eternal had obviously planned for this day even before He created such a thing as "days." That thought flashed an entire scene in the angel's memory...
The smooth lure of Lucifer found it's way quickly into the lives of many more angels. Some, to be sure, followed him because they were afraid of him and the angel of light became far more fearsome after his rebellion. Others were drawn into his temptation, "Join me! We shall topple the Most High and I will share the throne with you. It is no longer necessary for you to go about like slaves to His will. I shall set you free!"
The promise of freedom worked its way deep into the hearts of angels. First, a handful; then a hundred, then a thousand. Finally, a third of all the angelic beings were swept up in rebellion and were cast out of heaven. Of course, what they received was anything but freedom. They began to feel the agony of their separation from their creator. Lucifer tried to take His place, but he replaced the nurture and spiritual sustenance the Most High had provided with what amounted to a slow-acting poison. In their misery, they became more and more twisted and dark. It seemed that they completely forgot the beauty, light and joy of their former estate.
Now, sharing their misery and pain with the humans so loved by the Eternal had become the very reason for the existence of the fallen horde.
Zechariah began to pray. "O Eternal, I confess that I do not understand. I have been given the privilege to burn this incense before You. I have received Your approval to do so as shown by the sacred lot. All my life I have longed for this day. Now that it has arrived, I stand here with a broken heart. O Eternal, please hear my cry! Through the many years of our marriage, my wife Elizabeth has been barren. We have prayed. We have wept and cried out to You. We have sought the help of the physicians. Now, we have been told that it is too late. Please, Eternal, comfort us. We do not understand."
The old priest got up and turned to leave. Gabriel suddenly appeared to him and saw the look of great fear in his eyes.
"Don't fear, Zechariah..."
Note: For background study today, see Revelation 12.
To my readers: the events surrounding the birth of Christ are given extensive coverage in Scripture. The parts we don't always know about are the human elements, especially from the viewpoint of Jesus' participants. My attempt this Christmas is to stay true to the Biblical text, while shading in what it may have been like "between the lines." Please distinguish my ruminations from God's Word by reading the first few chapters of Matthew and Luke. My hope is that reading my words impacts you even a tiny percentage as much as writing them has impacted me.