Throughout Scripture and all of human history, God has reminded His people of the Promised One through the prophets. In spite of the many attempts by the enemies of God to wipe out the Jewish people, He protected the family line through which the Messiah would come. Then, at just the right time, The Promise was presented to the world.
One might think the Jewish people had eagerly awaited the arrival of the promised Messiah and King. The Jewish people at this time lived under Roman law in the regions that had been conquered. The Jewish high priests or political Sanhedrin ruled Judea with the support and leadership of the appointed Roman governor. While concentrating on political gain and the mastery of Jewish law, few remained faithful in waiting for The Promise of God.
A man by the name of Zechariah and his family were among the faithful. Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, were both from the line of Aaron—the line of the priesthood. During his time serving as priest in the temple, the angel Gabriel came to give Zechariah a message from God. (Gabriel is believed to be a high-ranking angel whose name means “hero of God.” It was his job to bring important messages from God to various people—one was Zechariah.)
The angel told Zechariah that his wife would become pregnant and give birth to a son. They were to name him John. He would be a joy to his parents, cause others to rejoice, and be great in the sight of the Lord. Gabriel continued, “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). John would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. God was preparing the way for The Promise.
Shortly after appearing to Zechariah, God sent Gabriel to give a message to Elizabeth’s cousin, a young virgin woman named Mary. God’s message to her was so unbelievable, and yet Mary believed and rejoiced in the incredible part she would play in His plan. “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, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end,” the angel told her (Luke 1:32–33). The Promise had been introduced.