Dr. Luke begins his letter to Theophilus with the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth. He commences with the parents, noting Elizabeth comes from the line of Aaron and grew up around the temple with priests in her family line. Zacharias is a priest.
Both were old, Elizabeth past childbearing years. Socially and economically this was a disaster to not have any children, especially a son to care for them as they advanced in their age. During those times, barrenness was the women’s fault and viewed as a result of sin. In fact, men could divorce their wives for not having children. Elizabeth was aware of her reproach among the people and felt remorse and shame. However, both she and Zecharias were righteous before God, following the commandments, so why would she be barren? They prayed for years to be blessed with a child. And as each year passed, childless, they continued to serve the Lord.
Zacharias was just one of several priests His group would serve at the temple for one week, only twice a year. They would cast lots, or roll dice, to determine who would go in the temple to offer incense over the coals and say a prayer. This honor was allowed only once, per priest, in their lifetime. Zecharias had been going to the temple for decades, and **WOHOO** – he was finally chosen!
While in the temple, the Angel Gabriel appeared and scared Zach nearly out of his robes. Gabriel told him to relax, that he was just there to deliver a message. A good one. God had answered their prayers and they would have a son! Awesome right? But instead of joy, Zacharias responds with questions about their age and didn’t really believe so asked for a sign as proof.
Gabriel, annoyed, basically was like, “I don’t understand humans. I am Gabriel and stand in the presence of God and was sent to bring you this good news. You have been asking for decades for a baby boy. Your prayer has been answered and you’re not happy. You want a sign – okay – mute – that’s right shut-up-ya-face…for a year.”
Angel Gabriel pressed the MUTE button on Zacharias as judgment for the unbelief, while simultaneously, providing a sign good ‘ole Zach had requested. You know that phrase, “Be Careful what you ask for, or you just might get it…”
Here’s what I took from this lesson: God uses discipline to bring us back around to repentance and he ALWAYS answers prayers. We just have to be still and wait. Sometimes the answer is no, and sometimes the answer is not right now, maybe years down the road. And during our times of “barrenness” – whatever it is (dissatisfied, illness, poor, cancer) be like Elizabeth and Zacharias – keep serving the Lord. Don’t give up.
Study Luke 1:5-25 (ESV) / TFAB / Pastor Loren video