In the days of Herod the king, there was a certain priest named Zachariah and his wife, a daughter of Aaron, named Elizabeth. Zachariah was a ‘cohan’, a priest, of the order of Abijah, whose duty was to attend to the government of the things of God. He was to set the finely beaten powder of the incense upon the altar of incense, morning and night, according to the course of his order. He was of the tribe of Levi, of the house of Aaron, chief of the principle house of Ithamar of the order of Abijah (1 Chronicles 24:8). He carried on the line of succession from his father before him and his son would continue it when he dies. According to the decrees of God, his life was ordered and set as was his sons after him.
Their lives had been set, by the decree of God, to become man and wife but they had no children. Not just a man who is a priest to a woman who is of the house of Aaron, but, ‘Jehovah remembers’ (Zachariah) with ‘the oath of my God’ (Elizabeth). A perfect union, in the fullness of time, with the God who remembers His covenant that He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, though none was worthy after the flesh and all were disobedient to His commands, with the covenant or oath that He made in love and mercy. All the affairs of creation had come to their zenith. The necessary peoples and nations were in their proper place and order and the sin of the world had filled up the fullness of the wrath of God as this promised son would, “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” for the day of the Lord was at hand.
They had each kept the law of God and the Spirit declares them to be righteous and blameless. Not that they had performed all the rituals and sacrifices of the pattern given at Sinai, for in keeping the ‘ministration of condemnation’, one is declare to be a sinner. The works of the law are weak in the flesh and by them no flesh can be justified, but, for one who has been born from above, in whom the Spirit of Holiness dwells, there is found, because of the work of Christ in condemning sin in the flesh, the righteousness of the law, fulfilled in them. When the lawyer came to Jesus, attempting to tempt him and justify himself, Jesus told him that the first and greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:40). The only way this could be accomplished must begin with the everlasting love of the Father in the eternal covenant with the Son for His children who became partakers of flesh and blood being born of the Spirit from above.
These children of hope both bore the shame and reproach of friends and family because the time of child bearing had pasted. Zachariah was an old man and Elizabeth was barren and well stricken in years. The concept as demonstrated throughout the scriptures is that since the fruit of the womb is the inheritance of the Lord and since you have no children then God’s judgment must be against you for some evil you have done. Job’s friends believed and proclaimed this to Job as he was stricken by the hand of God. The disciples even asked Jesus, “Who hath sinned that this one should be thus?” Even today when the path that God has set for His people, for their good, leads into shame and reproach from man, the brethren begin to judge and condemn ignorant of the grace of God that has caused these things to come to pass, leading them in all righteousness and revelation for the truth.
Zachariah became active in his duty at the age of twenty and had performed his lot for many years. Each time his lot came up, he entered the sanctuary and offered that sweet smelling savor before the Lord wherein, in type, the prayers of the saints ascended before the throne of God (Rev. 8:4). He always entered alone and never was there any possibility of someone else being in there with him, yet this time, an angel of God, whose name was Gabriel, stood on the right side of the altar. Gabriel’s name means ‘God is my strength’ and whereas many think this to be one of the ‘ministering spirits’ of Jehovah, I believe it is a personification of the Christ. He stands before the throne of God, has the strength of God and is sent to bring ‘glad tidings (gospel) of great joy’ to His children, and He tells Zachariah, “thy prayers have been heard”. What a blessed thought to think that God has heard our prayer and has sent His messenger to tell us in our ears this wonderful news.
He then tells him that he shall have a son. This son shall have the power and the spirit of Elijah and he shall turn the hearts of the nations unto the Lord. Glorious news and from the mouth of the immovable unchangable God. Zachariah in full regal of his weak Adamic nature says, “How shall I know these things?” Do not be critical of Zachariah for even though the Spirit dwells within the earthen vessel, the natural man still cannot receive the things of the Spirit for they are spiritually discerned. If one has the Spirit of God in the inward man, then he delights after the law of God, has all wisdom and spiritual understanding and has the mind of God. That which is of the Spirit shall never become the flesh and the flesh shall never become the Spirit, therefore, Zachariah has doubts and fear and looks for a sign of proof of the Word of the Lord.
Gabriel causes Zachariah to become dumb and for fear of what he has seen, he does not tell anyone what has happened. The people marveled that he tarried so long and knew that he had seen a vision in the temple, but lest he be branded a false prophet and be worthy of death by stoning, he does not reveal the wonderful news that he has received but keeps it in his heart. He finishes the days of his ministration in complete silence and amazement and when he was done, he returned to his own house about 18 months before the birth of the Christ child in Bethlehem.
Lord willing, as He enables, we shall continue with these glorious thoughts.
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
July 3, 2010