One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying. While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”Luke 1:8-17
One day Zech was serving at the temple. It started as any other day but in this case it was highly significant. It could have seemed that Zechariah went to the temple every day. But in this case it was HIS SPECIAL DAY. There were thousands of priests in those days. They were arranged in divisions. Each division would select the number of priests to take turn in the temple for the week. But only one was chosen to go into the temple with the incense each week. Zechariah would have been called on to perform this service only once in his entire life and what a day it turned out to be. This was his moment in the sun. it was a special honour to serve in the temple, to be in the presence of the Lord. Selection to be the one to offer incense was highly prized. He was chosen by lot. We don’t know exactly what the means of choosing by lot was but he was selected from among many. The suggestion is that the one who drew the white stone was the one who was given the privilege. If this is the case then it may well be the significance of the reference in Rev 2:17.
The people were praying outside the temple; in the temple area, but outside the holy place. It is significant that the crowd was praying “at the hour of incense”; when Zech took the incense into the Holy of Holies. Remember Uzzah (2 Sam 6:6-8), anything could happen. This was the terrifying moment of interacting with the Ark of Covenant or entering into the Holy of Holies, the Most Holy Place. The appearance of the angel scared Zech witless, probably spitless too. He too was probably thinking of Uzzah. “Lord, no don’t kill me.” “Oh dear, I wish I hadn’t done X yesterday.” The fact that an angel appeared was highly significant. Angels didn’t appear every day on the job in the temple. It was rare. We go about our “mundane” hoping for the day when the mundane will be transformed into the God ordained moment. The fact that angel appeared on the right side expressed God’s favour and blessing. The manifestation of His power.
Hey Zech, do you want the good news or the bad news?
- The good news: God has heard your prayer, yours and Elizabeth: prayers for a baby.
- You will have a son: a son was sought above a daughter in those days.
- This son will be highly significant: he will be great in the eyes of the Lord
- he will be filled with the Holy Spirit before he is even born
- he will turn the Israelites back to God
- he will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah
- he will usher in the coming of Messiah.
Wow Zech. This son is going to be highly significant. The name John means “the Lord is merciful” or “gracious gift of God”. This name refers to the grace of God which will descend upon God’s people as a result of this boy’s birth.
Ian’s editor’s note: I cannot comment on everything in this text nor in the Gospel of Luke. There is just too much detail. I could have turned this Gems into 7 or more Gems. Instead I chose to move on and not comment on everything. I am sure many of you will thank me for that and others of you will wish I had stopped at every stopping place.
Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.Mark Twain
If we’re not thankful for what we’ve got, we’re not likely to be thankful for what we’re going to get!Rick Godwin
Everybody has a piece of the jigsaw puzzle. Only God sees the picture on the box.Max Lucado