After years of prophetic silence, God announced the birth of John the Baptist to one faithful couple. As Alistair Begg explains, the announcement illustrates the mystery of God's work throughout history. The events surrounding the birth of Jesus remind us that the providence of God can be seen at work in ordinary events, both good and bad.
5In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah,1 of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
8Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17and 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.”
18And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
In communicating the incarnation of Christ, the gospel writers were very clear on certain key points. They were writing history, events that really happened and not legends or fables, yet those events held a deep mystery that could not be explained by natural means. The reason for this paradox is plain: the One coming to redeem the world was God Himself, divinity in the form of a human baby. In this series, Alistair Begg focuses on the principles of history, mystery, and divinity to explore Luke’s account of those who first heard about the Savior’s coming. As we observe the faith and obedience of Elizabeth, Zechariah, and Mary, we are challenged to praise God for His goodness and receive His gift of salvation.
Elizabeth and Zechariah
The Magnificat, Part One
The Magnificat, Part Two
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