Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday, April 18 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Judges 3-4; Psalm 78; John 10.
Today's scripture focus is Luke 1:5-14

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah,[a] of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 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, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But 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. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,

When I was a kid, we had these audio tapes of the Christmas story and the Easter story.  They were like radio theatre, like a movie with no picture, like the described video they have for the visually impaired nowadays.  There were actors with different voices portraying the different characters.  I think one of the reasons I love Luke is because it includes this account of Zechariah and Elizabeth.  I may be wrong, but I think this is the only account that includes their story.  (I would research that, but I'm too tired today.)

Anyway, these audio theatre tapes really made the story seem so much more real to me.  You could hear voices portraying the different characters and their fear (when the angel appeared), skepticism (how are these two senior citizens going to have a baby?), joy (when Mary, the mother of Jesus, visited Elizabeth and the baby in Elizabeth's womb "leaped for joy" upon hearing the voice of the mother of his Lord), joy again (when John was born and Zechariah regained his voice in order to insist upon the name the angel had given him).... you get the idea.

To go on, I've loved the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth because in some ways it is a dream come true story.  Here you have an elderly couple, regular people.  He was a priest, yes, but there were thousands of those.  He wasn't up there on the hierarchy of priesthood.  His wife was a regular gal.  Even Zechariah entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense wasn't anything he had earned, other than by merit of being a priest.  He was chosen by lot.  Does God have a hand in ordinary things, like picking a name out of a hat?  Most definitely.  The guy that God intended to go in and burn the incense that day was chosen by lot.

Zechariah and Elizabeth were "righteous before God".  Were they the only ones?  I'm sure they were not.  But the fact that they were not unique in this doesn't make it any less true.  By all accounts, if you follow God and do His will, He will bless you.  Yes, but does He always bless us with what we want?  No.  Does He bless everyone at the same time in the same way?  Definitely not.  Zechariah and Elizabeth may not have been any more or less righteous than others that they knew, but others were having children and they were not.

Disappointed and upset will be the person who believes that God's blessings are things you can pick out for yourself, like shopping on-line or choosing things from a catalogue.  "If I save up enough "goodness", enough doing what Jesus would do, enough prayer and service in my righteousness account, I can pick what I want from God's blessing catalogue."  Uh-uh, sorry.  Not how it works.  Can we pray for what we want?  Yes.  And we see in verse 13, the angel says "... your prayer has been heard...", so obviously, Zechariah and Elizabeth wanted children and prayed for children.  Did God answer their prayers?  Yep.  Every single one.  He said "Wait for it...  wait for it...  wait for it... wait for it...    OK, now!"  He had a plan.  He had His own timing.

So anyway, here is regular priest Zechariah and his regular wife Elizabeth and their prayers are answered with a "yes", and their dreams of having a child come true.  And not only that, but their pregnancy test is the voice of an angel!!!  Can you imagine?  You pray and hope for something for years, and not only do you get a "yes" but you get an angelic confirmation!  Nevermind that Zechariah was terrified by the angel, nevermind that he was skeptical and was struck dumb for nine months... anyway, I would continue, but I'm already encroaching on tomorrow's verses, so I'll leave that up to tomorrow's poster.

Happy Thursday!

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Luke 1:15-17.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Judges 5-6; Psalm 79; John 11.

1 comment:

TammyIsBlessed said...

So true Miriam.

I love that God uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary.

That moment for Zechariah, and later for Elizabeth, must have been absolutely amazing. But when we read it through our lens of 20/20 hindsight vision, we tend to gloss over those seemingly endless years of waiting, of barrenness, of forsakenness, of pain. Did the eventual answer to prayer make them forget that? I don't know, I don't think so. But it made it worth it. Reminds me of what Paul said - the sufferings of this present time aren't worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed. This present time has suffering indeed. But it is not for nothing. And it will not end in suffering. It will end in glory beyond our imagination! Praise God!