“During the rule of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest assigned service in the regiment of Abijah. His name was Zechariah. His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. Together they lived honorably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God. But they were childless because Elizabeth could never conceive, and now they were quite old.
It so happened that as Zechariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, working the shift assigned to his regiment, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense. The congregation was gathered and praying outside the Temple at the hour of the incense offering. Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was paralyzed in fear.
But the angel reassured him, ‘Don’t fear, Zechariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You’re going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you – many will delight in his birth. He’ll achieve great stature with God.
‘He’ll drink neither wine nor beer. He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God’s arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics – he’ll get the people ready for God.'” Luke 1:5-17
The Birth of John the Baptist is Foretold to Zechariah
Sometimes we think we’ve been overlooked. We wonder if our unimpressive, unexciting life is all that God has called us to. And honestly, we sometimes wonder how on earth our daily living can be a true contribution to the Master Plan.
Look at Zechariah. His life is honorable yet mundane. Childless and elderly, he and his wife Elizabeth expect to live out their days quietly in service to the Lord. Maybe this isn’t how they saw their lives playing out. Yet they standfast.
But then, the Bible says Zechariah was chosen to enter the temple that day. There were so many priests serving in the temple, that it wasn’t super likely that Zechariah would get many chances to serve in this way – maybe once in his life, maybe never. This high point in his priestly career came by “chance.” He would enter the Holy Place with other priests, but then they would all withdrawal, and he would be left alone to burn the incense as an offering to the Holy God. This was no small occasion!
And while everyone waited outside praying, Zechariah went in. And as surprised as he was to be the point man, imagine his shock (and fear!) when he saw an angel of the Lord standing there – right next to the altar of incense.
Then, the angel laid the message out. Zechariah gets the spoiler-alert, heads-up, sneak-peek of The Master Plan unfolding. He’s going to have a baby – a son. He and his barren wife, in their old age. And not just any son – one that “will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.”
Let’s go back to everything leading up to this grand moment – the old and childless couple, “walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.”
The moment in the temple wasn’t Zechariah’s one great chance to be a part of the Story. He and Elizabeth lived ready their whole lives – quiet, God-honoring lives that prepared them for this high calling, this grand honor.
I encourage you today: Live righteously before God. Be blameless, ready for every good work that He calls you to! Live contented now to serve where you are called – you life is already a special assignment from the King!