Reading about Zechariah's angelic interaction in the temple made me want to know a little more about what he was doing and where he was in the temple. It seems that there were a lot of priests in that day...I read from 7000-8000 of them were walking around! Evidently they were organized into 24 divisions and assignments were made by casting lots, sort of like rolling dice. We know there was no "luck" or "coincidence" involved though because God arranged for Zechariah to be exactly where He wanted him to be to receive this announcement! And remember, no one had received a fresh revelation from God in about 400 years. God, for all human understanding, had been silent for 400 years! And Zechariah gets to hear from Him first! Wow, no wonder he was surprised at the least scared to death at the most! Yet Zechariah receives this news right there at the Altar of Incense...in front of the very curtain separating this altar from the Holy of Holies...in front of the very curtain that would be torn from top to bottom when Christ died! Right at the altar that symbolized their prayers being lifted to God just like the smoke and scent wafted heavenward. This is the exact place where the angel announces that Zechariah's prayer has been heard!
My friend Mandy said it well in her comment on the previous post when she wondered if he'd actually given up praying for a child since they had waited for so long. Let me assure you that Elizabeth had not stopped! Oh sure, she may have wearied of the request, but her deep deep longing was a child. Barrenness, at least for me, never is far from a woman's mind if she's afflicted with it. And even if she'd stopped actually asking God, her heart still ached, so God still knew her longing and cared!
Because I'm probably just a little odd, I would love to know what "signs" Zechariah made to the crowd! They expected him to pronounce the blessing probably found in a Numbers. 6:24-26. Oh please go read it!!! I find it so ironic that, though Zechariah could not literally pronounce the blessing, what he'd been told by the angel Gabriel was indeed ACTUALLY what God was about to do...turn His face -the face of Jesus who was the exact representation of God-toward them and bring them peace with God through this Jesus! No, Zechariah could not utter the verbal blessing, but he was about to parent the one (John the Baptist) who would pronounce that Jesus was that very face of God and instrument of peace.
I also noticed that verse 15 of Luke 1 says that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. Verse 41 says that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit when Mary arrived and John jumped in her womb. And verse 67 says that Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit after he regained his voice. This has become a heartfelt prayer of mine, that my entire little family would be filled with the Holy Spirit and submit to serving Him!
I pray that you have read verses 39-80 of Luke 1. The time Mary visited Elizabeth is such a sweet story! If ever I've wished for a video gospel it's as I'm reading about these two women, years apart in age yet forever connected in divine ways.
I am a bit sad to read that Elizabeth and Zechariah probably died while John was young. I have to wonder if his diet and wardrobe would have been different had Elizabeth been around! However long she had with her boy, she must have taught him well because John pointed to Jesus as the Messiah whenever he got the chance. What an important roll Elizabeth played!