Promised Child. - Luke 1:8-20.
December 7, 2022, 9:00 PM

" Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.

Each day about 50 priests served their duty in the Temple. In the early morning, they divided into two groups to make a pre-daylight torchlight inspection of the Temple courtyards. The day's duties were assigned by lot.

They made everything ready in the Holy Place, where the most solemn of the day's ceremonies was to take place - that of offering the incense, which symbolized Israel's prayers being accepted by God. Again, a lot was taken to decide who was to be honored with this highest act of mediation between God and man.

One of this group of priests was Zechariah who was chosen for this honor. He was believed to be more than 60 years old. As the people and other priests waited outside doing other ceremonial duties, Zacharias entered alone into the Holy Place. In front was the heavy Veil that hung before the Holy of Holies reserved for the High Priest only on the Day of Atonement.

Zechariah walked forward and spread the incense on the altar. The priests and the people were prostrate before the Lord, offering unspoken prayer and thanksgiving for God's mercies, provision, and deliverance, along with petitions for blessing and peace. A cloud of smoke from the incense was beginning to form and move upward in the Holy Place.

It was then Zechariah saw an angel. In the chapter, he told him "your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."

The angel identify himself as Gabriel, but since Zechariah did not accept this message as possible, he was made silent and could not speak until this child was to be born.

The role of this special son was to be in the tradition of the prophet Elijah. He was to take the special Nazarite vow of no wine or strong drink. He would be filled with the Holy Spirit from before birth and call the Jewish nation back to the faith. He was to prepare the way for the Messiah to come.

Some commentators say that Zechariah and Elizabeth were symbolic of the nation. That certainly makes sense, for if the prelude to Jesus coming was indeed barrenness and spiritual emptiness that fit the figure of an old woman not able to deliver.

The first verse of this praise prelude so to speak, was the sign of hope. The prophecies were beginning to unfold. The Jews’ long expected Jesus was about to arrive. The forerunner to tell that news was being prepared whom we know to be John the Baptist.

The sending of the baby to Elizabeth and Zechariah was what I call the first stanza of the Christmas Carol of the coming Christ- The love child for us. The time was ready to begin.

Many churches lit the first candle of hope during the beginning of Advent and sing “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”. This hymn begins the weeks before Christmas and speaks of prophecies that were being fulfilled.

Application- Take time this season to thank the Lord for working out in details the fulfillment of His will. What do you see around you that can only be described as from the Lord. 

Prayer- Lord, grant me eyes to see and voice to praise for your involvement in my life. Amen.