Updated: Dec 5, 2020
"I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news (Luke 1:19)
There are only two angels in the Bible who are specifically named. There’s Michael, the archangel, and then we have Gabriel as mentioned in today’s reading.
While Gabriel is not specifically called an ‘archangel’ in Scripture, it appears that he is certainly a high-ranking angel and served as carrier of important messages from God to humans.
The name Gabriel means "God is my strength," or "mighty one."
He may have appeared on many more occasions, and most likely would have, but we have at least four specific instances where he is identified in the Bible:
In Daniel 8:16, Gabriel gives Daniel and interpretation of a vision regarding Medo-Persain / Greek rule;
In Daniel 9:21, Gabriel gave Daniel the explanation of the prophecy of Christ's coming.
In Luke 1:11, Gabriel foretells the birth of John the Baptist to his father, Zecharia (we met Zechariah in yesterday’s devotion).
In Luke 1:26-28, Gabriel appears to Mary with the message that she would be the mother of the God-child, Jesus Christ.
It’s interesting, is it not, that in all cases of Gabriel’s appearing with a message from the LORD it was a message infused and injected with the key ingredients of hope and peace. In Daniel 9:21, the message of the coming Messiah was one that the nation was in desperate need of hearing at a time of despair and disillusionment in its history.
Zechariah’s hope of ever having a child, let alone one from his own loins, had long withered and died.
The message to Mary was one that carried with it one of absolute hope not only for her and her people but indeed for the whole world:
“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:31-33)
Also interesting to note that the appearance of Gabriel with the word of the LORD came with peace.
Zechariah “was startled and was gripped with fear” (Luke 1:12). What does Gabriel say? “Do not be afraid, Zechariah” (v13).
Mary was "greatly troubled" (Luke 1:29). What was Gabriel’s response? “Do not be afraid, Mary” (v30).
How indicative these proclamations of peace were of a greater proclamation to come – “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) – backed up, not by a singular seraph but by an angelic choir! “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
Friend, as we journey through Advent, listen for those messages of the Messiah; those words that inspire wonder; those precepts and principles that point to the Prince of Peace.
As you listen, you will hear them. Perhaps not through an angel (although that’s not impossible!) but through a stranger, a friend, a teacher, a preacher, a pastor, a child... Whatever and whoever the channel may be, the effects of that message can be the same as it was when delivered by Gabriel in days gone by…a message that:
Infuses our lives with hope,
Replaces our fears with peace,
Fills our hearts with joy
Overwhelms our loneliness with love.
Lord of hosts, Lyricist to angelic choirs,
Speak, I am listening, whisper and I will hear;
Release Hope, Peace, Joy and Love,
To address my longing, my every fear.