“It is truly ALL Within all our Doing!” Zachariah’s Testimony of Faith. The Story Before the Story! Luke 1:5-17

Luke 1:5-17The Message

A Childless Couple Conceives

5-7 During the rule of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest assigned service in the regiment of Abijah. His name was Zachariah. His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. Together they lived honorably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God. But they were childless because Elizabeth could never conceive, and now they were quite old.

8-12 It so happened that as Zachariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, working the shift assigned to his regiment, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense. The congregation was gathered and praying outside the Temple at the hour of the incense offering. Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense. Zachariah was paralyzed in fear.

13-15 But the angel reassured him, “Don’t fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You’re going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you—many will delight in his birth. He’ll achieve great stature with God.

15-17 “He’ll drink neither wine nor beer. He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God’s arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics—he’ll get the people ready for God.”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Every story has a preface – it is what needs to be said before diving in.

It often sets the stage, the tone, for the masterpiece ready to unfold.

Sometimes it is direct author commentary, and many times it explains the story before the story –

as famed Radio Broadcaster, Commentator the late Paul Harvey might say;

“There Will Always be a Story before the Rest of the Story.”

Luke 1:1-4The Message

1-4 So many others have tried their hand at putting together a story of the wonderful harvest of Scripture and history that took place among us, using reports handed down by the original eyewitnesses who served this Word with their very lives. Since I have investigated all the reports in close detail, starting from the story’s beginning, I decided to write it all out for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt the reliability of what you were taught.

Narrator Luke begins his Gospel, lays the foundation for why he is writing this letter to Theophilus, he shares with us an amazing moment in history.

So that we can know “beyond the shadow of doubt” the truth of the stories we have read, been told, our whole lives, the reliability of what we were all taught.

To that much desired end, Luke introduces us to a righteous priest named Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth. We are told that they are obedient to God’s law, and have grown old, past the years they could have had any children.

Zachariah, a priest in the line of Aaron, happens to be on his regular rotation duty at the temple in Jerusalem, and is “set apart” chosen as the priest to enter and burn incense before the Lord – this is his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This would be the one and only time Zechariah would enter the Holy Place.

What a responsibility and privilege! As he enters, he brings the incense, representing the prayers of God’s people, before the presence of the Lord.

Zechariah also brings his own prayer, the desires and longings of his heart.

This is incredibly refreshing to me.

When approaching the throne room of God, Zachariah is honest.

He quietly tells God what is really on his mind and in his heart.

Too often, when we are in church and given an opportunity to share a prayer request, we first default to sharing other people’s troubles and not our own.

We don’t come right out and shriek that we struggled with reading God’s Word this week, or that we messed it up as parents or as human beings that morning, or we desperately need God to show up in the midst of a shredded relationship.

Even in our own private time, when we are supposed to be communing with God alone, we first give a glossed over report so we can make things quick and easy.

Why is that?

Why are we afraid to spend the time to be real, to be broken and raw, why are we so timid about unleashing all of ourselves before the One God we know loves us?

It’s exhausting being “all clammed up, neat-and-tidy, its all okay” Christians.

In Luke’s Narrative, Zachariah is clammed up, he offers no prayers for himself.

Maybe Zechariah was tired, long the righteous man before God, but where were the expected “abundant rewards” and “heavens open floodgate of blessings?”

Zacharias had no children to pass his priestly knowledge and experience to.

There was no hope of any coming generations to further his family lineage.

He loved and served the Lord his God with everything he had for many years.

He loved his wife Elizabeth with the same fervor he loved and served His God.

In this hushed place where few people ever enter, Zechariah cannot help but share his burdens when he has been charged with interceding for his people.

God’s answer for Zachariah’s faith – breaks the 400-year silence of heaven.

Luke 1:13-17 The Message

13-15 But the angel reassured him, “Don’t fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You’re going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you—many will delight in his birth. He’ll achieve great stature with God.

15-17 “He’ll drink neither wine nor beer. He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God’s arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics—he’ll get the people ready for God.”

A son…with the spirit and power, style and strength of faith of the great Elijah the Prophet….heralding….preparing the people for the coming of the Lord…

Emmanuel, God with us, God within us, the promised Messiah, is coming soon.

And, Zechariah’s son will lead the way, pointing the Jews back to their long-awaited Savior – softening the hearts of parents to children. kindling devout understanding among even the very hardest, harshest of scorners and skeptics.

God raised up Elijah during a dark time in Israel’s history, where their most evil king prevailed to lead the people’s hearts to betray the God who loved them.

God gave Elijah the gift of fervent, powerful, intercessory prayer (James 5:17-18)

Elijah obeyed God’s plan and stood up, alone, to face those idol-worshippers on Mount Carmel. He called down fire from heaven, and God demonstrated His great power, proving He was God, and the people turned back to their Sustainer.

However, Elijah was also threatened, became fervently scared and ran away to the very deepest wilderness, to the mountain of God, seeking direction, help.

God sent His ravens to feed Elijah when Elijah had 100% given up on himself.

God Himself miraculously answered, comforted him and gave him instructions.

All of this will come to life in new ways as Zachariah’s coming John “will turn many Israelites back to the Lord their God, back to a devout understanding!”

But long years of personal doubt, of severe questioning, of God, had dulled his faith, had made Zacharias cynical and critical of himself and critical of God.

He openly questioned the angels words of prophecy – threw them back into the angels face – probably with not so much as even a respectful glance upward.

The angel responded and disciplined Zachariah for his actions towards him.

Zechariah can’t speak when he leaves the temple because he doubted God’s word, he will not be able to say a word until he sees with his own eyes the birth of his son, until he hears the baby’s cry and holds his son in his own hands.

Now, he has a little more than nine-months to quietly meditate on the angel Gabriel’s words, to “to talk and to walk back” his own behaviors and actions.

The story before the story is about to collide with the One who wrote them all.

God caught Zechariah in the fulfillment of divine promises — fulfillment that occurred with the coming of the Messiah. God had chosen Zechariah, along with his wife Elizabeth, to play crucial roles in God’s great coming story of His grace.

Zechariah experienced the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a priest to burn incense [1] at the great Temple in Jerusalem.

While performing his duties, a heavenly messenger visited him and revealed that he and his aged and barren wife Elizabeth, like Abraham and Sarah would have a son and that son would bless many, would lead many to their Messiah.

Despite being well past the age to have children!

Zacharias had a significant story to tell that would reverberate over all history!

God was answering their prayer.

The messenger told Zechariah to name their son, John. He obeyed, and God used Zechariah’s “simple” testimony of faith, obedience to bless the world.

Zacharias gets only the briefest of mentions in the pages of holy scripture.

But, his story transcends the ignominy of that very briefest of mentions ….

His lonely, quiet and much reserved story now transcends generations ….

Adds enormously, magnificently to that “great cloud of witnesses” who have come before this generation, live now in this generation, born into future ones.

Zacharias’ story becomes a great lesson for anyone of our own faith journey’s.

As but the briefest of testimonies to turn our hearts back to God’s, provide for us that great Holy Spirit opportunity to gain more understanding of God’s plan.

In this Christmas season, indeed in all coming seasons, We have a story too!

A God favored, indescribably prized and abundantly valued story to tell to our family, friends, and co-workers, our neighbors in God’s own neighborhood,

God, our Father Matters!

Immanuel, God with us and Within us Matters!

God, the Holy Spirit, our Intercessor, Matters!

We have our Doubts and those Doubts Matter to God, our Father!

We have our faith, steadfast or wavering or absent, and that Faith matters!

We have our fellowship, Koinonia, with God, our Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

That fellowship, that connection, that Koinonia, absolutely matters to God!

Our faith or absence thereof in that Koinonia, absolutely matters to our God!

Become more humble and more devout in our praise, prayers, our worship, of the One who abundantly blessed, who’s coming again to take us unto Himself.

Become more aware of, to acknowledge, to recognize, to act upon the relevance and significance, the great privilege, and greater responsibility of our humble role as the Body of Christ, God’s accountable church ministering into the world.

Faith of our fathers, living still,
in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
whene’er we hear that glorious word!
Refrain:
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

2. Faith of our fathers, we will strive
to win all nations unto thee;
and through the truth that comes from God,
we all shall then be truly free.
(Refrain)

3. Faith of our fathers, we will love
both friend and foe in all our strife;
and preach thee, too, as love knows how
by kindly words and virtuous life.
(Refrain)

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Psalm 113English Standard Version

Who Is like the Lord Our God?

113 Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord,
    praise the name of the Lord!

Blessed be the name of the Lord
    from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
    the name of the Lord is to be praised!

The Lord is high above all nations,
    and his glory above the heavens!
Who is like the Lord our God,
    who is seated on high,

who looks far down
    on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap,

to make them sit with princes,
    with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home,
    making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the Lord!

Father, my Creator, Perfecter of Faith and faithfulness, please accept my meek efforts at learning and living obedience, including in the little, clear, and simple things, as an offering of my love to you. Grant me such grace as I can handle in the moments of my doubts and failures, to turn back to such testimonies as Zacharias’, to become more devout, more understanding. Take that and my obedience and bring glory to your name and a blessing to your people whether others know of my part in your plan or not. In Jesus’ name, to his glory, I offer you this humble prayer and my life. Adeste Fidelis! Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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