Luke 1: 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
As Zacharias finally had his moment in the temple, suddenly an angel appeared. Fear fell on Zacharias at this awesome sight but the angel comforted him. Zacharias most likely had prayed for a son but perhaps at that moment he was praying for the redemption of Israel. Both of those prayers were being answered as God was sending the forerunner for the Messiah. Elizabeth was going to bear a son, and name him John. John means “God is gracious.” God was about to demonstrate the immensity of the dimensions of His grace to Israel and to the world.
Luke 1:8 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.
There was a large number of priests serving in one temple. Opportunities for taking part in the ritual were very few amount of times. Zechariah’s might have only one time in his whole life to go into the Holy place and perform the offering, all alone. This was a high point in Zechariah’s career, and in his advanced age he was finally entering into the temple to burn incense.
Franklin Graham, son of Evangelist Billy Graham, said Friday that his father’s health has worsened in the past few days. Graham told Charlotte station WSOC-TV at a Christmas charity event, “My father’s health has declined quite a bit in the last few days. I’m not even sure he knows Nelson Mandela has passed away. He hasn’t been able to get his strength back. Vitals are good. He’s just weak and at home.”
Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.
Herod the Great reigned from 37–4 b.c. In the temple priests served on a rotating roster. The division of Abijah was the eighth of the twenty-four divisions (1 Chr. 24:10); each ministered for a week twice a year. Zacharias was in this division and his wife was named Elizabeth. They were both godly and upright people and having no children was certain to be a major disappointment because children were seen as God’s reward to faithful people (Ps 127:3-5). Priests did not have any retirement age so Zacharias could have been very old but still continuing in his priestly duties. In the midst of the pain of barrenness Zacharias and Elizabeth did not blame all their problems on God and leave His service. Instead they continued faithfully, and were about to receive the surprise of a lifetime.
On Monday, Texas lawmakers sent notices to schools letting them know that new legislation allows them to dress festive and say “Merry Christmas” without fear.
The new law was passed unanimously by the Texas legislature this year and is backed by social conservatives who see political correctness censoring Christmas. The new legislation also covers the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah.