By Sherri Stewart
Western artwork often represents angels as serene people in white robes or chubby-cheeked infants, typically with feathery wings and harps or trumpets. In truth, angels are beings of incredible power and influence. Only two angels are named in the Bible—Michael and Gabriel, although Lucifer is a fallen angel. Since we’re close to Christmas, we will explore what the Bible tells us about Gabriel.
Gabriel, whose name means “hero of God,” appeared to three people—Daniel, Zechariah, and Mary. Biblical encounters with Gabriel always induced fear, and Gabriel always allayed their fears. (Luke 1:13; 30; 2:10).
Even a God-fearing priest like Zechariah (Luke 1:5–7) was terror-stricken when first seeing Gabriel. Zechariah was alone in the Holy Place of the temple, offering a sacrifice of incense (Luke 1:8–11), for which he was chosen by lot to perform. Incense always represented prayers to God. Gabriel’s message was a happy one. Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, were honorable people who had never had children (Luke 1:5–7). The angel's announcement suggests that prayers for a child had been a regular part of Zechariah's life. Although well past child-bearing years, Elizabeth would conceive, at last, and they would have a son. Gabriel commanded that the child be named John, and he would be great in the sight of the Lord. The angel also instructed Zechariah to raise the child under special care (Luke 1:14–17) as he would be an important herald of God's salvation (Luke 3:2–3).
Zechariah's instinct was to doubt this prediction. His question was not about how such a birth could occur. It was a reluctance to believe it could occur. In response, the angel identified himself as Gabriel and said that he stood in the presence of God. Zechariah would have immediately recognized the name Gabriel, thanks to the angel's appearance in the story of the prophet Daniel. Gabriel rebuked Zechariah for his lack of faith and said he would be unable to speak or hear temporarily. (Luke 1:20,62) Gabriel’s admonition sends a clear message to all to respond to God’s blessings the right way.
Soon after, Gabriel came to an obscure town in a rural area (Luke 1:26). The object of his mission was a virgin, unmarried but betrothed, by the name of Mary (Luke 1:27). Her status as a virgin (Luke 1:34) and member of the house of David (Luke 3:23–38) were both foretold by the prophets (Isaiah 7:14; 2 Samuel 7:12–16).
As most people, Mary would initially be troubled by the angel's appearance (Luke 1:29) and wonder how God planned to accomplish His purpose (Luke 1:34). “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” However, unlike Zechariah (Luke 1:18), her question was about how, not if, the angel's message would come true, so Gabriel answered her question and confirmed his words with news of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. His final words to her were, “For no word from God will ever fail.”
Gabriel’s only other appearances were to Daniel (Dan. 8:16, 9:21), and his purpose was not to bring a message but to explain a dream that Daniel had about the end of the world. What we learn about the angel was that 1) he appeared as a man, but inspired fear; 2) he came as a result of Daniel’s prayers; and 3) he came swiftly as soon as Daniel began to pray. Gabriel’s presence shows us that prayers are heard, and sometimes even before the prayer is finished, God sends an angel with the answer.
A Song for Her Enemies
After Nazi soldiers close the opera and destroy Tamar Kaplan’s dream of becoming a professional singer, she joins the Dutch Resistance, her fair coloring concealing her Jewish heritage. Tamar partners with Dr. Daniel Feldman, and they risk their lives to help escaping refugees. When they are forced to flee themselves, violinist Neelie Visser takes them into hiding.
Tamar’s love for Daniel flowers in hardship, but she struggles with the paradox that a loving God would allow the atrocities around her. When Tamar resists the advances of a Third Reich officer, he exacts his revenge by betraying the secrets hidden behind the walls of Neelie’s house. From a prison hospital to a Nazi celebration to a concentration camp, will the three of them survive to tell the world the secrets behind barbed wire? https://amzn.to/2YJBkRn