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Luke 1 -- Happenstance or Fulfillment?

While I am not of the thinking that every single event that happens in this world or in our lives is specifically orchestrated by God, and has some deep theological meaning for us to figure out, I do believe there are times when even the most mundane event, or something that appears to be inconsequential, could be a very significant event in God’s eternal scheme.

An example of this can be seen in the first chapter of Luke. Zechariah was involved in a priestly custom that had been taking place for hundreds and hundreds of years. Lots were being thrown to determine which priest would enter the temple to burn incense. Everything from a human perspective appeared normal. No one was expecting something different to happen this day. Not the priests, not the world, and not even the angels in heaven anticipated anything out of the ordinary to occur.

Granted, time may be of absolutely no significance in the heavenly realm, especially since we know a thousand years can be as one day for its residents, but consider this possibility. Approximately 700 years had passed since Isaiah's prophetic proclamation of the coming Messiah. Hundreds of years had gone by without any sign of fulfillment. Then, with no advance warning, Gabriel was sent on a mission. Just that act alone might have created a buzz among the angels. “Do you know where Gabriel was sent?” “Have you heard who he’s talking to?” After all, to our knowledge, it had been a long time since he’d been sent on any kind of mission.

Later they learned that Gabriel had met with Zechariah inside the temple, the one to whom the lots had fallen. But it was the message he delivered to Zechariah that would have sent an electrical charge throughout the angelic ranks. First they heard Gabriel had told Zechariah that he and his elder, barren wife would conceive and bare a son to be named John. But of more significance was that their son was to be the “crier in the wilderness” announcing the Savior’s coming! After all the years of relative silence relating to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, they recognized John’s upcoming role in the unfolding events of history.

Can you imagine the excitement that news might have sparked? “It’s happening!” one angel might have exclaimed. “It’s time!” another might have cried. “It’s started!” Almost as if earth and heaven itself had remained dormant for 700 years, suddenly the events put into action created an excitement that the greatest prophecy ever given to mankind was about to be fulfilled. Hallelujah. I can just imagine that the excitement among the angels heightened as they learned of two subsequent trips Gabriel made to earth shortly thereafter. One was to speak to Mary, the chosen mother of the Son of God, and the other to Joseph, the soon-to-be step-father.

The lots falling to Zechariah had certainly not been “happenstance.” What had seemed an ordinary, common occurrence in the lives of the priests that day had been planned down to the most specific of details by our Omniscient Father. Every action and word had been orchestrated by God before time began.

Unfortunately, many perceive all world events as nothing more than happenstance and coincidence, like the throwing of lots. Few expect there to be any specific significance to the events happening in the world today. But in God’s realm, something very quiet and seemingly insignificant may be the “kick off” for other prophecies about to come to pass.

Think of that for a moment, and then put it into this context. The Church Age, in which we currently live, has been the longest historical, biblical period since the world was created. Nearly 2,000 years have passed since Pentecost. That lull in the fulfillment of "end times" prophecy could be considered, again, a dormant period for the heavenly hosts. But like the casting of lots back in Zechariah’s day, there’s bound to be that one particular event that will initiate the chain of events marking the “beginning of the end.” We don’t know what that is. Only the Lord knows.

I believe, as do most Christians, that there is an extremely high percentage chance that the Rapture and return of the Lord Jesus Christ could very well take place in our lifetime. If that turns out to be the case, then it is very likely that the “kick-off” event has already taken place. Perhaps the angels have already begun shouting “It’s started!” “It’s time!” If they’re not crying it now, hopefully it will happen in the very near future.

How exciting it is to think about our future heavenly home and spending eternity with the One who redeemed us. I can’t wait! But this needs to a reminder that, if indeed, the chain of events to bring about the Tribulation has already started, there isn’t much time for shouting a warning to our family and friends to look to Jesus for their salvation. Unfortunately, in the midst of all the excitement and celebration of Jesus’ glorious appearing, we will be blanketed with a great sorrow over those left behind. Let’s not let that happen.

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