Luke begins his account by laying outthe historical backdrop for Theophilus, informing him that what he is about toread took place when Herod was King of Judea. This is meaningless to us, butTheophilus understood the context.
· Israelwas in a time of prophetic silence.
· Itwas a time of Roman occupation and a group of rulers call The Herod’s. Herod was not a personal name, but a title that meant Hero-Warrior or The Songof The Hero.
· Thefirst of The Herod’s was known as HerodThe Great. He ruled over the Jews for 33 years (37-4 B.C.)
· HerodThe Great was NOT Roman, but an Edomite.Edomite’s were decedents of Abraham through Isaac, however, they were NOT Jews,but decedents of Isaac’s son Esau. The Edomite’s and Israelites were always atodds. Herod felt the need to ingratiate himself to the Jews.
· Herod’spro-Jewish policies caused some of the Jews to form a pro-Herod political partycalled The Herodian’s.Along with the Pharisee’s and Sadducees, The Herodian’s were constantly opposingJesus.
· Juxtaposedto his good side, Herod had a dark side: was ruthless, jealous and insanelyparanoid of anyone who might think to usurp his rule. He had his wife, brother-in-law,mother-in-law, and several sons killed.
· Itwas Herod The Great who also killed the Jewish children after the birth ofJesus who was being called The King ofThe Jews.
This is the historical backdrop inwhich God chooses to launch the two primary players of a redemptive plan,created before the world began.
Zechariah, God’s humble servant
His name was a common one. Zechariah = Yahweh has remembered.
His wife was a decent of Aaron, brotherof Moses, 1st High Priest of Israel.
Elizabeth = God is my oath… celebrating God’sfaithfulness.
Notice whatLuke reveals about God’s perspective regarding Zechariah and Elizabeth:
VS6: righteousbefore God
blamelessin all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
The significance of the above isrealized in VS7: But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren.
Context Point: In that culture, barrenness was seenas a judgementfrom God because of some sin. The popular thought would be… God blesses therighteous with children and curses the sinful with bareness.
Truth Point: The ways of God are not always evident in the everyday ebb andflow of life.
In the case of Zechariah andElizabeth, barrenness had nothing to do with their walk before God. It wasaccording to the preordained plan of God.
Gabriel brings divine revelation
Zechariah is in Jerusalem serving inthe Temple when the Angel Gabriel appears to Him. Luke says that “fear fell on him”. A more literaltranslation would reflect TERRIOR!
Gabriel comforts Zechariahassuring him that God has heard his prayer and he will have a son. Which prayerhad God heard? Zechariah and Elizabeth had likely prayed many.
Godheard ALL of them. WhatZechariah did not know was that God had already answered his prayers before thefirst one was even prayed.
A lesson for Zechariah and us is this:there is a time/ seasonfor answers.
Truth Point: God always hears and answers our prayers. Wecan be assured there is always an answer. Sometimes NO… Sometimes YES…Sometimes YES, but you must wait for the appointed time.
Here iswhere the significance of their names come into play…
Zechariah = Yahweh has Remembered
Elizabeth = God is my oath – faithfulness
All those years they were childless,those names must have been like daggers in the heart. Where is God’sremembrance? Where is God’s faithfulness?
God had not forgotten them, nor was Heneglecting them. Before they came together on their wedding night to consummatetheir marriage, God had a pathway prepared for them to be the parents of a childnamed John.
· Howfoolish it would have been for them to abandon God along the way
· Howshortsighted to accuse God of not caring for them, loving them
Ah yes, but with humanity, where thereis an upside, there is usually a down side as well. We find that whileZechariah was a humble, but faithful servant of God, he was none-the-less stillflawed. VS18
Zechariah is not just questioning somethinghe doesn’t understand, he’s making a statement of unbelief. He knows he’sspeaking to a supernatural being, one God sent to him to give him a message. Yethaving received the message he wants further proof.
The response from Gabriel is powerful.VS19: I am Gabriel. I standin the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you thisgood news.
Gabriel gives Zechariah the proof hewants, but probably not in the way he wanted it. His speech is taken away.
Zechariah finishes his duties andreturns home to Elizabeth… imagine how things went when he came home with somuch to share, but could not speak.
They come together again and it didn’ttake long for Elizabeth to discover that she was with child. Luke tells us thatshe didn’t present herself publicly for 5 months. Likely, she didn’t wantpeople gossiping about her until the proof was evident. At 5 months along noone can doubt the miracle that has taken place.
I close with Elizabeth’sresponse to God: VS25: “Thusthe Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away myreproach among people.”
Taking away our reproachis something God does for every person who turns to Jesus in repentance andfaith. He removes the reproach of sin and gives us the covering of Hisrighteousness.
Has your reproach beenremoved?
If YES…join me and Elizabeth in giving Him praise.
If NO… can I share thegood news of Jesus with you so that the reproach of your sin can be removedalso?