A Suffering Couple
Eternal God, with all that’s within me, I bless Your name. Your ways are from of old; Your works are ever new.
Read LUKE 1:1-10
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Pause and bring to the Lord your deepest yearnings and prayers. He hears. He acts. He restores hope. He turns ashes to beauty.
Luke begins by telling us that he writes as a careful ancient historian. He writes to assure a Greek nobleman, Theophilus, of what truly happened in the days of Jesus. Luke’s story does not begin with creation (John), Jesus’ genealogy (Matthew), or John the Baptist’s ministry (Mark), but with John’s origins. This is intentional; it parallels the account of the Davidic monarchy in 1 Samuel, which begins with Hannah’s answered prayer (1 Sam. 1). By doing so, Luke heralds that, after 400 years of prophetic silence, God is on the move. A new and final phase of the Davidic monarchy is beginning–the Messiah is near!
The story proper begins in verse 5, with the miraculous account of John’s birth. His mother, Elizabeth, like many before in the biblical narrative, carried the deep grief of years of barrenness (e.g., Gen. 11:30; 25:21; Judg. 13:3; 1 Sam. 1:2). Due to a misinterpretation of Mosaic Law, barrenness was often perceived as a curse and the result of sin (e.g., Exod. 23:26; Deut. 7:14). Yet, we see this critiqued in the passage as both Zechariah and Elizabeth are faithful Jews living by Torah. We are told that they were both righteous before God (6). They were living their lives before God and the desire of their heart was to belong to God and serve him.
Zechariah was a priest (5). There were twenty-four divisions of priests in Israel, and each division took a turn yearly to serve for a week. Only one priest at a time had the honor of burning incense at the altar and, amazingly, the lot fell to Zechariah. The rising of the smoke from the burning of the incense was associated with the priest praying (Psa. 141:2; Rev. 5:8). The people outside also were praying (10). No doubt Elizabeth was praying to God that he would bless them with a child and alleviate their shame. The scene is set.
What stands out to you about Zechariah and Elizabeth? What life lessons do they teach you?
Father, what an encouragement it is to know that You hear and answer prayer. Sometimes I am off with the timing and the form of that answer, but I embrace Your wisdom.
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