The Angel Gabriel
The angel Gabriel delivered Messianic messages to God’s people. As discussed last week, one such message was given to Mary and recorded by Luke.
This New Testament interaction with Mary can be compared to Gabriel’s Old Testament interaction with the prophet Daniel. That interaction occurred during the days of the exile.
Notice the consistency in the Old and New Testament accounts, regarding Gabriel’s encouraging demeanor. He called Mary “favored one” and Daniel “highly esteemed”. Notice also how in each passage the day of the Messiah’s arrival is not explicitly stated, but indirectly referenced.
|Old||So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks…Daniel 9: 25|
|New||And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. Luke 1: 36|
Gabriel told Daniel that the timeline for determining the Messiah’s arrival starts with the “issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem”. And obviously with Mary, she would give birth nine months after conception. Gabriel placed her conception in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. One can start with these clues and perform a study, incorporating both Biblical and extra-Biblical data, to approximate the month and year of Jesus’ birth.
More interesting than the similarities in the messages given to Mary and Daniel is a major difference noticed in the texts. When Gabriel spoke to Mary, he told her she would give birth to the Messiah, the promised King of Israel, and that He would rule forever and His kingdom would have no end. But when Gabriel spoke to Daniel, he told him that the Messiah would at some point be “cut off and have nothing”. Furthermore, he said that Jerusalem (the home of the king) and the temple (the house of God) would be destroyed. This is certainly a conundrum – would the Messiah rule forever or would He be cut off?
This riddle is resolved by the resurrection of Jesus. When Gabriel told Daniel the Messiah would be cut off and have nothing, this was a prophecy of the crucifixion of Jesus. When on the third day Jesus rose from the grave, His claim to be God’s Messiah was vindicated and His claim to be King of the Jews made certain. Thus in the resurrection of Christ, Gabriel’s words to Mary were definitively fulfilled.
Now what about Gabriel’s words regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple? Historically, it is undeniably true – Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans. It is the reason for the destruction that is debated. Secularists would simply say it is another example of a nation warring against a nation. Christians would say that the city and temple were destroyed because the Jews rejected the Messiah (Jesus Himself spoke of the coming destruction of Jerusalem). A rejection of God’s Messiah is a rejection of God Himself, and there were curses in the Mosaic Covenant associated with rejecting God.
The Jews are hard pressed, I think, to explain the destruction of their city. The destruction and scattering of the Jewish people, Biblically, is always associated with their sin and God’s enactment of the covenant curses. What was the great sin they committed, warranting the destruction of their city, if it was not the rejection of Jesus as Messiah, and disbelieving the words Gabriel spoke to Daniel about the cutting off of Messiah?