Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Faces of Christmas - Getting to Greet Gabriel

Part 4 in a Series
By Brenda Black

Exhausted. Speechless. Troubled. I've felt all these emotions, but never as a direct result of meeting an angel in person! One of the key characters of the Christmas miracle, the Lord's angel Gabriel, is actually named only three times total in the Scriptures, including the story of Jesus' birth. In every instance, however, he leaves those whom he addresses shocked and enlightened.

Gabriel makes his debut in a surreal way that sounds like the inspiration for the movie “Inception.” It's a vision within a vision thinks the prophet Daniel.

“While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man. And I heard a man's voice from the Ulai calling, 'Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision.'

“As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. 'Son of man,' he said to me, 'understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.'

“While he was speaking to me, I was in a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. Then he touched me and raised me to my feet.

“He said: 'I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end...'

“I Daniel, was exhausted and lay ill for several days. Then I got up and went about the king's business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.” (Daniel 8:15-19, 27)

This Gabriel who left Daniel drained and mystified, would later appear to both Zechariah and Mary, delivering double doses of equally bewildering news. To each he would announce the arrival of a son. John first. Then Jesus. The old priest was silenced for questioning God's right-hand angel and “Mary was greatly troubled at his words.” Gabriel's radiant and unexpected appearance gave legitimate rise to terror and trembling, but his comforting command was always “Do not be afraid.”

What an overwhelming experience for the human senses, but how magnificent of a Holy God and His messengers to visit us. I may never meet an angel face to face. The chances of my having a prophetic vision interpreted in person by an archangel are pretty slim in my estimation. Neither do I expect to have delivered to me news of an unearthly pregnancy in my old age. Whew! Still, I always watch for God to show up in miraculous, magnificent ways and speak with all authority.

Oh, I've had my holy encounters. Some too sacred to share. And when God appears in His many forms, I tremble. I listen. I rejoice. This Holy God who is the Everlasting Father cares enough to send His angels, give His Son and leave the Holy Spirit! Trust me – He still shows up!

Christmas is not just a time to remember when Jesus came to earth. It's a time to realize that God is still ever present. Sometimes He delivers a frightening indictment like Gabriel divulged to Daniel. Sometimes He answers a long awaited prayer as He told Gabriel to share with Zechariah and Elizabeth. And sometimes He flat out gives us a miracle we never dreamed possible like Mary got in Jesus.

Gabriel himself may not be making house calls in this age, but he still stands in the presence of God. And someday, I am going to meet them both face to face. And after I fall down trembling, I believe with all of my heart that I will be raised to my feet like Daniel and be enveloped in the perfect love that casts out all fear. Maybe that's why Gabriel is at the ready. He waits to tell every saved soul “Do not be afraid” even as God says “Enter in thy good and faithful servant.” What kind of a greeting that will be --when I get to bow before God my King, thank my Savior in person and greet Gabriel!

courtesy theinspirational.wordpress.comThis illustration depicts
the fierceness of an archangel,
while conveying his compassionate reason for appearing.
Though Gabriel seems inviting in this painting,
look at the contrast between him
and the cherub hovering above Mary.
If they are what the average believer intends to see
when God's messengers come calling,
then fear and trembling make perfect sense
when a life-size heavenly host makes his entrance.

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