"I am Gabriel," replied the angel. "I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
1. ONE TAKING HIGH RANK WITH GOD. "Great in the sight of the Lord." By faith in Jesus Christ our child may become a "son of God" in a sense not only true but high (see John 1:12). "And if children, then heirs, heirs of God" (Romans 8:17). Obedience will ensure the friendship of God (see John 14:23; John 15:14). Earnestness will make him a fellow-laborer with God (1 Corinthians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1). The acceptance of all Christian privilege will make him a "king and priest unto God" (Revelation 1:6). Who can compute how much better it is to be thus "great in the sight of the Lord" than to be honored and even idolized by men?
II. ONE IN WHOM GOD HIMSELF DWELLS. "He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost." God desires to dwell with and in every one of his human children; and if there be purity of heart and prayerfulness of spirit, he will dwell in them continually (Luke 11:13; John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Revelation 3:20).
III. ONE THAT IS MASTER OF HIMSELF. "He shall drink neither wine," etc. By right example and wise discipline any man's child may be trained to control his own appetites, to regulate his tastes, to form temperate and pure habits, to wield the worthiest of all scepters - mastery of himself.
IV. ONE IN WHOM THE BEST AND NOBLEST LIVES AGAIN. "He shall go in the spirit and power of Elijah." In John the Baptist there lived again the great Prophet Elijah - a man of self-denying habit; of dauntless courage, that feared the face of no man, and that rebuked kings without flinching; of strong and scathing utterance; of devoted and heroic life. In any one of our children there may live again that One who "in all things in which John was great and noble, was greater and nobler than he." In the little child who is trained in the truth and led into the love of Christ there may dwell the mind and spirit of the Son of God himself (Romans 8:9; Philippians 2:5).
V. ONE THAT LIVES A LIFE OF HOLY USEFULNESS. What nobler ambition can we cherish for our children than that, in their sphere, they should do as John did in his - spend their life in the service of their kind? Like him, they may:
1. Make many a home holier and happier than it would have been.
2. Prepare the way for others to follow with their higher wisdom and larger influence.
3. Be instrumental in turning disobedient hearts from the way of folly to the path of wisdom.
4. Earn the benediction of" many" whom they have blessed (verse 14). To ensure all this, there must be:
1. Parental example in righteousness and wisdom.
2. Parental training as well as teaching.
3. Parental intercession. - C.
I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God.Daniel 8:16; Daniel 9:21), and Michael (Daniel 10:13; Jude 1:9, &c.). This latter name signifies, "Who is like God? "Here the critic asks sarcastically whether Hebrew is spoken in heaven? But these names are evidently symbolical; they convey to us the character and functions of these personalities. When we speak to any one, it is naturally with a view to be understood. When heaven communicates with earth, it is obliged to borrow the language of earth. According to the name given him, Gabriel is the mighty servant of God, employed to promote His work here below. It is in this capacity that he appears to Daniel when he comes to announce to him the restoration of Jerusalem; it is he also who promises Mary the birth of the Saviour. In all these circumstances he appears as the heavenly evangelist., The part of Gabriel is positive; that of Michael is negative. Michael is, as his name indicates, the destroyer of every one who dares to equal, i.e., to oppose God. Such is his mission in Daniel, where he contends against the powers hostile to Israel; such also is it in Jude and in the Apocalypse, where he fights, as the champion of God, against Satan, the author of idolatry. Gabriel builds up; Michael overthrows. The former is the forerunner of Jehovah the Saviour; the latter, of Jehovah the Judge.
(F. Godet, D. D.)
(Bishop Goodwin.)Daniel 9:21-27). This being the case, we see at once the special fitness that the same angel should be employed to announce the near accomplishment of that which he had so long predicted. It is the same angel, moreover, who was sent a few months later to announce the birth of the Messiah Himself, as now of His harbinger. The same considerations apply to both transactions.
I. CONSIDER HIS CHARACTER AND POSITION. He was a genuine believer. He was well instructed and greatly enlightened. He held a high office as priest. He had been peculiarly favoured. Soothing comfort had just been administered to him. This comfort had been given in answer to his own petition. He staggered at a promise which others implicitly believed.
II. WHAT THEN WAS THE FAULT OF ZACHARIAS? His fault was that he looked at the difficulty.
III. CONSIDER HIS PENALTY. Mercy tempered judgment. He was not struck dead, and the chastisement did not invalidate the promise. Do not be satisfied with being weak in faith. Let the utter unbeliever tremble. If a good man was struck dumb for unbelief, what will become of you who have no faith at all?
(C. H. Spurgeon.)If incredulity, much more open doubt and disbelief, were now thus dealt with, how awfully numerous would be the additions to the family of the dumb!
(A. B. Grosart, LL. D.)
That thou art made a child for wondering.
Whilst for a sign too eagerly thou dost call,
Except by sign thou canst not ask at all.
(A. B. Grosart, LL. D.)1. Christians are saying to the world either that God is false to his promises, or that God is true. You dishonour him by unbelief. You honour him by faith, the utmost honour you can give him. A German writer gives this incident in the life of Johannes Bruce, the founder of the order of the Carmelites, who, though a Romish priest, was a saint indeed, distinguished for his love to God and his faith. The convent was poor; and the friars, dependent on charity for daily bread, were often compelled to console themselves with the passage, "Man does not live by bread alone." One day the brethren found, when they had assembled for dinner, that their whole stock of food was a single piece of dry bread. They sat down; they asked God's blessing upon their crust. Then Johannes arose, and poured forth such words of encouragement and consolation concerning the love of Christ and the great promises He had given His people, that all of them arose delighted and refreshed, and, without partaking of their bread, returned to their cells. They had scarcely reached them, when the bell rang at the convent-gate, and a man entered with a large basket of provisions, which were carried, with a letter, to the prior, who was on his knees praying. He read, the letter dropped from his hands, and he began to weep bitterly. The porter, surprised, said, "Why do you weep? Have you not often said that we should weep for nothing but our sins?" Johannes replied, "Brother, I do not weep without reason. Think how weak the Lord must see our faith to be, since He is unwilling to see us suffer want a single day without sending visible aid. He foresaw that before evening we should despond, unless He sent immediate help to our faith by means of this charitable gift. It is because we possess so little confidence in the rich Lord in whom we are encouraged to trust, that my tears flow."
(From sermon by Charles Finney.)
(Handbook to Scripture Doctrines.)
(T. Guthrie, D. D.)
(G. A. Gordon.)
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