Friday, August 29, 2008

Zechariah Serves in the Temple

It doesn't take long when reading Luke 1 to realise that Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth carry - internally, a degree of disappointment. Verse 7 says, 'But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.' Sociologically speaking this would have been a concern for them, especially Elizabeth considering the role that women played within the culture of this time. But before we're told, 'but they had no children', we're told that, regardless...'Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly' (v6).

V8 goes on to say, 'Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside'.

This is big for Zechariah. In reality, he may have received this kind of opportunity at best, once a year. So i began to wonder - what would be the subject of his agenda?
If we only had the opportunity to personally meet with the creator of the universe once a year - if that - what would our priority list look like? What pressing issues would we want to bring before the Lord?

Well considering verse 7 you'd safely assume that Zechariah was well prepared to bring before the Lord their inability to conceive! And considering the fact that right at that moment an angel of the Lord turned up and mentioned what he did (v11), you'd think that his urgent prayer had just been answered wouldn't you?

Well this may be controversial but i want to suggest that this wasn't the subject of Zechariah's prayer. See the greater, more pressing issue for Israel was a savior and i believe that Zechariah knew this and placed this above all else. I want to suggest that his mindset was moved from 'what can i bring before the Lord, personally speaking', to operating out of a reverence for the Lord and the office he was currently holding. And perhaps it was that that influenced his divine visitation at that point. I don't want to suggest that Zechariah's right motive brought about God's idea to send Jesus, but perhaps it confirmed for him the time to communicate his plan?

Zechariah's answer to prayer came not out of a heart that was consumed by it, but out of a heart for others, a heart for his nation and the freedom that awaits.
This then brings new perspective not only to how we must approach the church, but also our miracle and our answered prayer. Too often our miracle is about us - and it overrides our service unto the Lord.
For Zechariah, his miracle was his miracle, but his miracle had a greater purpose - to prepare the way for the Lord, the Savior that Israel (and Zechariah) had been praying for. And perhaps that's why Zechariah's miracle was John the Baptist and not someone else? Becuase God knew he could release this prophet - with the lifetime agenda that he had - to a father that wouldn't be so self consumed that he'd hinder his ability to release his son to activate that calling.

'Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly' (v6)


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