Thursday, December 18, 2008

The journey to the birth: Zechariah

God often signaled the birth of a significant person by ending the barrenness of a woman with this birth. Think of Sarah, barren until she birthed Isaac. Think of Hannah before Samuel was born. There are many more examples.

So when God appeared to Zechariah to promise the birth of a son, the pattern was repeated. The amazing coincidences abounded. Zechariah was in the priestly line of Levi, which meant he had priestly duties to fulfill.

On the Day of Atonement, a priest was selected by lot to go into the Holy of Holies, which is where God chose to meet with men. On that day, the priest offered up sacrifices for his own sin and also that of the people. There was great fear in going into the presence of God.

Zechariah was chosen by lot to go in – a once in a lifetime opportunity that probably many priests never got. And while he was in the Holy of Holies, an angel came with amazing news: his barren wife, Elizabeth, would have a son.

Zechariah asked for proof. He has seen miracles already: being chosen to go into the Holy of Holies and then having an angel appearing and speaking to him. The angel promises yet more: the birth of a son in Zechariah’s old age, and this son had a ministry: to prepare the way for the Messiah.

And he had seen God’s fingerprint in proclaiming a significant son being born to a barren woman.

But it’s important to notice that Zechariah was not struck dead for his unbelief. Because his words were doubting words, they were taken from him. He was sent out from the Holy of Holies with a mission and promises, including one that would restore his speech when his son was born.

When his wife, Elizabeth, discovered her pregnancy, she proclaimed what he was not yet able to speak:
"The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people." (Luke 1:25)

Tomorrow: a simple reply

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