Luke 1: 11 “Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.”
Zechariah has been chosen to go into the Holy of Holies of the Temple. He is alone, He is being careful to do all that the priest should do. He has poured the incense on to the fire. Symbolism is all around him. He has prayed and so have the people outside for the protection of Israel and for the coming Messiah. What he doesn’t realise is that all the artefacts around him have their central meaning in Christ, the whole of the Temple was a picture of Jesus.
Zechariah was before the altar of incense. The place symbolic of the prayers of people rising to God.
Today, all around the world Churches of every description who meet in huge buildings, small homes and under trees will gather together at the altar of incense and offer up their cries to God, they will worship Him and long for Him to come to help them. I will be there will you?
It is not beyond the impossibility that there will be strangers in that place with you. Where did he come from? I am not sure, he just appeared! Zechariah was clear that an angel had appeared, he even knew where he was standing, the detail will never be forgotten and (we will read later) his name is Gabriel.
Angels are not fat little babies with wings, they are full-grown adults.
They are stronger than us and they have greater knowledge.
They appear in bodies but also whole armies can be missed as in the case with Elisha’s servant.
They are worshippers as Revelation shows us.
They direct individuals, like Joseph in Matthew 1-2 and Philip in Acts 8.
They helped Christ after his temptations and they help us in impossibilities like when the apostles were in prison in Acts 5 and 12.
They strengthened Jesus, the apostles and Paul and they strengthen us too.
In fact Gabriel means ‘strong man of God’ or ‘God is my fortress.’
Gabriel appears by name 4 times; twice to Daniel interpreting his visions, once to Mary to tell her of Jesus and of course to this ordinary man to tell him of a son to come.
Today friends, wherever you are, God knows. He knows whether you are in exile far from where you should be trying to understand the times you are in and more importantly the dreams and visions you are having. He knows whether you are an ordinary girl who is just going about her normal duties. And he knows whether today you have been chosen to go into a place where most don’t go, the holy of holies, where death is possible and where prayers are on your lips and the fragrance of worship is rising. The fact that He knows where you are means He also knows what you need. If you need Gabriel then that is who will be sent. If you need the Spirit of God that is what will come. But He can come and He will come. Today. You don’t need to worry about tomorrow. You are here today, in this moment, at the altar, the fire is lit for today, the incense has been poured for today. That is enough. Today is all you need and here He is, He is here with you. Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord.