Advent 5, 2018: Ritual Cleansing

Finally arriving at his destination, there was the ritual bathhouse for immersion, since one could not enter the precincts without it.  It served as a reminder to all visitors that the Temple was a special place of religious significance. 

Zechariah then climbed the fifteen uneven steps, the southern staircase that led to the Temple complex.  All the while, he reflected upon how the unevenness of the stones intentionally added to the slow pace.  It was required for a sure footing but it also provided an aura of solemnity owed to such a journey. 

This wasn’t just a casual trip, like visiting your neighbor’s home or a trip to the marketplace. 

This was far greater. 

Whenever he began to enter the Temple Court areas, his heart raced just a little at the thought:  Where he was headed was nothing other than closer to Adonai, the Almighty Himself. 

His goal was this precious nearness, and he said a quick prayer of thanksgiving that he came from a line of priests.  Only they were afforded the privilege of representing the people before the Almighty.  It was lineage alone with training added to it.  An inheritance to be among the priests and not a work of his own doing.  He took this vocation seriously and devoted himself to performing it in a way to honor the Name. 

He entered through the double gate into the Court of the Gentiles.  “Ugh, Gentiles,” he reminded himself.  “Just don’t touch anything there.  It’s one thing to represent the Chosen People, another thing entirely to become polluted by ministering to these non-Jews.”  He was grateful for the ceremonial cleansing of his hands and feet.


His Story, Your Story: 

  1. What types of things in Zechariah’s journey contributed to his honoring God as holy? 
  2. How does honoring God as holy (and presenting ourselves as “set apart” for God’s service) bless God? 
  3. The flip-side is how we might view others—the ones from whose midst we’ve been set apart.  How do we balance holiness towards God without sacrificing brotherly love? 
  4. In Zechariah’s day, Gentiles were viewed as substandard because they were unclean.  How might Zechariah’s “privilege” of being born into the priesthood and being born into the Chosen People harden his heart toward the Gentiles? 
  5. What things can you do to honor God with your holiness while preserving love for the unlovely?

Self-Reflection topic: Right View of Privilege

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, may we never forget that You died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8) as the demonstration of God’s perfect holiness and God’s perfect love.  Teach us to enjoy the privilege of being called and true blessing of being saved … and to use that privilege to share the Good News of Your birth, Your death on the Cross, and Your Resurrection with others so they too may enjoy the privilege of the gift of Your grace.  Help us not to despise our privilege in order to fit in amongst those from whom—at the high cost of Your death–we’ve been set apart. Rather, help us to view this privilege rightly:  as an opportunity to extend Your reign and Your rule to other people, lifting them to share in this blessing.  Our culture has so much upside down and backwards.  We have become siloed and tribal instead of outreaching; we have become selfish instead of generous; we have become tolerant instead of faithful; we have become lawless instead of holy; we have accepted and even embraced sin; and we have rejected and despised what privilege You died to give us freely by Your grace.  Forgive us, Father.  Lord God, please cover our failures with Your forgiveness.  Forgive us, Lord.  Amen.


By way of reminder, if you haven’t signed up yet, you can receive these Storyteller devotional studies in your email throughout Advent 2018 by entering your email address on the home page in the space provided in the sidebar.  Or “Like” the SeminaryGal Facebook page to access them there.  If you like these devotionals, I’d really appreciate your letting others know so I can continue to spread the Good News far and wide.  Blessings to you, in Christ always, Barbara <><


Acknowledging inquiries about the entire season’s devotionals for your study group’s planning purposes, Seminary Gal’s prior seasons’ Advent devotionals can be accessed via the archives to the right and are as follows:  

  • Last year’s Advent Devotional Series (2017), Still Christmas, began December 3, 2017 and was the Advent complement to the Lenten series, Be Still and Know that I AM God.
  • The 2016 season devotionals were called Timeless: The Message of Christmas for All Ages” and explored how the message of Christmas is timeless truth, for all ages of people, and for all ages at all times.  Timeless hope, encouragement, grace, peace, and love as we looked into the Word, saw the face of our Lord Jesus, and experienced restoration in His presence.  His goodness and His Gospel are truly Timeless. The 2016 devotionals began November 27, 2016.
  • The 2015 season devotionals were titled Incarnation and involved digging deep–and yes, I mean deep– in this important mystery of Christian theology.  They began November 29, 2015.
  • Carol Me, Christmas! remains one of my most popular offerings and tells the Christmas story through our most beloved Christmas hymns and carols.  You can access all of the numbered devotionals from 2014 via the archives.  They began November 30, 2014.
  • The 2013 series was Emmanuel: When LOVE Showed Up in Person and examined the Prologue to the Gospel of John.  It began December 1, 2013.
  • The 2012 series focused on Expecting the Unexpected…the unexpected, unlikely, and uniquely divine qualities of God’s perfect plan outlined in Luke’s account of the Christmas story.  It began December 1, 2012.

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on December 6, 2018

Social Networks: RSS Facebook Twitter Google Stumble Upon Digg Reddit

Leave a Reply