Monday, December 13, 2021

The Greatest Story Ever Told (Part I)

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed.

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. (Luke 1: 1-13)

There is nothing known of Theophilus other than he was a person of rank and title and a friend of Doctor Luke. We should also note that since both Elizabeth and Zechariah were both advanced in their years, it is not inconceivable that Zechariah had not prayed for a child in many years and yet the angel said, ‘Your prayers have been heard.’ It becomes clear that when we pray God does hear us and will answer those prayers according to His will and at the time of His choosing, we should have faith and never despair. 

Also when one prays fervently that God would heal someone who is suffering from what is normally a terminal condition and that person dies in spite of the prayers, often times disappointment, anger and even disbelief in the existence of God may follow, exactly the reaction the devil would want! What we must say is, ‘Not my will, but your will be done Lord God,’ and then realize that God did in fact answer our prayers and took the one we prayed for to Himself, healing them completely as we had asked and gave them a new and glorious eternal life. By faith we should understand that we will see them again in God’s timing.

And the Angel said to Zachariah; 

And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they wondered at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid herself, saying, “Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.” (Luke 1: 14-25)

Zachariah was struck dumb until Elizabeth’s child was born because he disbelieved God’s spokesperson Gabriel, it should come as no surprise to us when we become incapacitated due to our failure in believing and doing God’s will. Even Christ Himself is subservient to the will of the Father when He says, ‘I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.’ 

(John 5: 30) 

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