Do you ever have a hard time waiting for something? If you are like most people the answer is yes. However, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, God calls us to patience. My kids are the perfect example of impatience. It seems that the younger we are, the harder it is to wait for our expectations to become reality. Maybe that’s why the timeless Creator seems to be so patient to fulfill his plan of redemption when to us time bound creatures it seems so long. Consider the first promise that God made to our original ancestors, Adam and Eve. God promised to send a Savior who would crush the head of the Serpent. Yet Adam and Eve never lived to see that promise fulfilled. God promised Abraham to send a Seed, through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Abraham never lived to see the promise fulfilled. In fact, he had to wait twenty-five years before he and Sarah would even have a son of their own. Consider that God promised to send David an offspring who would sit on his throne forever. David certainly did not live to see the promise fulfilled. And we could keep going into the lives of the prophets and the people who were carried away into Babylon. God promised to send the Messiah yet so many faithful men and women who trusted that promise of God lived and died without ever seeing that promise fulfilled.
Now, like Abraham and Sarah we come to another old couple who longed for children. Zechariah and Elizabeth had prayed for so long that God would give them a child. It would also seem that they prayed for the “consolation of Israel.” That is the fulfillment of God’s long awaited Messiah. Yet when the Angel Gabriel finally showed up to Zechariah to inform him that God had heard and was about to answer his prayer, he acted in disbelief. Maybe it was disbelief that God would finally act in his day. Maybe it was disbelief that God would use the means of an old man and an old woman having a baby. Either way Zechariah had the same response that many of us would have after such a long time waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. Yet in God’s time and in God’s power, this is a very small thing.
Zechariah temporarily lost his ability to speak but when his tongue was finally loosed after the naming of his son, we see that his response was to immediately praise God for his goodness, mercy and power in how he chose to act. He did not rebuke God or act indignant that God took so long. He only praised God because though it seems so long when we have to wait for the fulfillment of a promise, when it is finally here, it seems that two thousand years was no time at all when compared to such a blessing.
As we consider the lessons of all the faithful people of God who lived and died throughout the many generations leading up to the advent of Christ, let us us remember that though they did not see the promise of God fulfilled in their day, they were blessed for their faith in the promises of God. In fact, we are told that the faith in the promises of God was the very basis by which they were justified. In Romans 4 we are told that Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Just like Abraham and so many others, God commands us to believe his promises and not grow weary. In fact we too are justified on the basis of faith in the promises of God. Specifically, we are justified by belief that God will save us if we confess our sins to him and declare him as Lord.
In our day we still wait for a long awaited return of the Messiah Jesus Christ. As I grow older I look around and realize that I have very little ability to change the world into the utopia that seems to be in the heart of every human in one form or another. This makes me longs for the Savior, the One who can usher in the new heaven and new earth. The One who can put an end to all sin and suffering. It seems like so long to wait. Indeed, many have waited with great expectation for the last two thousand years and yet we are still waiting. If we are honest, most likely we will all pass away without ever seeing the return of our Lord. However, we can use the lessons learned from those who waited for his first advent to carry us and perhaps many future generations through our lives and help us continue to believe the promise of his return. Come thou long expected Jesus!