"And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people." Luke 1:67-68
So little is known about Zacharias, and Elizabeth, in comparison to other characters in the Bible. Yet, God chose them to be the parents of John the Baptist. It is not a great leap of conjecture to believe that there was a depth and an integrity to their character that no one else could see. No matter. God truly valued it.
"They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord, but..." Luke 1:6
The Bible is filled with the junction of the conjunction.
"BUT (emphasis mine) they had no child."
This a mouthful. It is not a throw away line, or padding for a pulp fiction novel. This is the Word of God, and simple phrases often carry a powerful punch. When the weight of the words are placed on the scales of their context, they will reveal insight and understanding, that may not be initially appreciated, from a quick read.
Righteous is not a word to be treated lightly. Practical piety in the day of Zacharias and Elizabeth was expressed by giving, praying and fasting. When Jesus presented His Sermon on the Mount, he expressed the same elements of this character would be seen in the citizens of The Kingdom. He put great emphasis on these very three things. He magnified the private purity of motive, but He devalued any ostentatious public expression of giving, praying and fasting. Interesting, that no one else seemed to appreciate what these two people had invested in The Kingdom, BUT God did.
The conventional wisdom of the religious system and the general scuttlebutt expressed by their friends and neighbors had this couple pegged as losers and underachievers. All they could see was the "BUT." God always sees past it.
"But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years." Luke 1:7
In other words, they were done. Check please. Clear the table. Next! They still had a place of service, but life was moving on without them, and it was about to give them "the bum's rush." Zacharias had no son to pass on his name. Elizabeth had no child to validate her existence. Each day they rose, worked, ate, slept and aged. Mundane monotony, can be the cancer that eats away at the meaning of life.
In spite of what might have appeared, to most of their friends and family, this couple never lost sight of their real reason for living. They did not find hope in climbing the ladder of the current religious system. Their passion was not invested in making a name for themselves. They poured what they had been given, and what they had left into a genuine walk with God.
"...walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord." Luke 1:7
WOW! What a statement. "Blameless." Don't get me wrong. They had their critics. The cultured, big city religious elite hated to see the hicks come to town. The great unwashed hayseeds from the country would roll into Jerusalem for the feast days, and their poor priests would arrive to do their service to them.
At home, there were the hissing serpents of gossip that always whispered behind Elizabeth's back when she walked through the market. They would nod knowingly, and say maliciously that her childless condition was punishment for some unseen sinful condition. The "Fruit Inspector" boys and "The Share and Tear" girls will always be around. In the case of this couple, dirt could be dished. Mud could be thrown. BUT it just couldn't stick.
"All." There was not one thing that God commanded and required that they did not obey. What a legacy! They were not large and in charge. They did not have the trappings of success or status. They didn't have the capacity to make a name for themselves, or even leave one behind. Still, they walked with God, and He knew them by their first names.
For all practical purposes, Zacharias had already made his mark in life. Elizabeth never would. He was a very small cog in the great religious machine that operated The Temple. For him, there would be no fast track to fame and glory. No high office or prestigious position was going to be in his future. He was part of the priestly class, but that meant he was expected to be honored to serve, when his time came. After guiding people through the worship experience at The Temple, he was expected to go home and pick up his quiet, obscure life, with his barren wife Elizabeth.
"Now it happened." Luke 1:8
The Bible is filled with stories about people who seem to be set on permanent, poignant pauses, right before God's unction falls upon them. In the case of Zacharias, he was on pause, and about to be put on mute. BUT, in both cases, God was at work in his life.
Note to self: God is always working to bring about His best in your life, and He does His best work in what appear to be the worst of circumstances. Don't try to talk yourself through a crisis, just keep walking with God through it. What He has brought you to, He will bring you through.
"While he was performing his priestly service before God, in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour at the hour of the incense offering. And the angel of the Lord appeared..." Luke 1:8-11
My gosh, this is like reading the prose of an automobile manual found in the glove box of my car. "When jumping the battery, turn off the engine of the car with the live battery. Attach positive cable on the car with the dead battery to.." Wah. Wah.Wah. Wah. Wah.
Are you kidding me? This is how God works? He shows up in the daily, mundane errands and at the stopped up kitchen sinks of our lives. YES! God was about to jump start the lives of these two wonderful people, but they had to be in the right place at the right time.
Getting up, and showing up for a walk with God is where the unction is. Staying connected to the right power source is the only way to have what only God can give. LIFE. POWER. PURPOSE. Without taking an active interest in spending time with God, their lives were dead. With Him they were about to have the adventure of their lives.
God saves the best for last. Cynics say that youth is wasted on the young. I remember trying to get up a group for a trip to the Holy Land. I had pretty good crowd until they found out we weren't going to Branson. To the uninformed, Branson is Vegas for Baptists. Senior Adults who make this pilgrimage will stand in line in a thunderstorm to gain entrance to a session with their version of Justin Bieber. They will clap, and cheer for their idea of "American Idol." BUT when they get home, they whine about that loud "rock n roll" music in their church. Go figure.
Anyone who has ever been around a Senior Adult ministry in a local church knows that the old can hold their own, with any young person alive, when it comes to wasting the best years of their lives. Can you spell ukelele? I didn't think so. To be a part of the next Great Awakening, it is time for people who know better to step away from the "All U Can Eat" Branson buffet, and pursue the path of this righteous couple. This walk never ends, and it never gets old.
TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!