Friday, December 6, 2013

Week 1 of The Women of Christmas...a personal connection

I've posted a little something personal. Please let it help you connect in your own way to Elizabeth's story. I'm no video wiz, nor am I particularly great on camera, but this is me just being honest!

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 front of the very curtain separating this altar from the Holy of 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!


Jennifer Graves said...

One thing I was also intrigued by this week was the casting of lots mentioned in verse 9. The Bible tells us that Zechariah was chosen to enter the Holy of Holies to burn the incense by the casting of lots. This is not the only mention of this practice in the Bible. Acts 1:15-26 tells us that after the death of Judas, another disciple had to be chosen to replace him. The field was narrowed down to two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (aka Justus) and Matthias. The final decision was made by casting lots.....or was it really? Some commentary I read this week says that the casting of lots was an acceptable way for making decisions before the introduction of the Holy Sprit. The Sovereign Lord superintended the event ensuring that the lot fell in such a way as to identify His will. Another mention of casting of lots comes in Proverbs 16:33 "The lot is cast into the lap, but every decision is from the Lord." Lots were much like rolling dice or flipping coins, however we know that there is nothing that is really left to chance. Everything that happens has been perfectly orchestrated by our Heavenly Father according to his perfect plan. Thinking back to Zechariah this week and his appointment by "lot" to go into the Holy of Holies, I am so thankful that I don't have to wait for my chance by the "casting of lots" to enter the Holy of Holies. I am thankful that I can enter the presence of the Father whenever and wherever I want to. I know that was an insignificant part of this weeks story, but it stood out to me and was something I wanted to know more about.

Debbie McGrath said...

What an excellent observation you got from the story. Yes, we are blessed -we can talk to God anytime and He is always available.
Thank you for what you shared.

jessie seneca said...

Oh Gayla,
I am a little behind and just read chapter one and was so blessed and God's timing was PERFECT! I seem to have many paragraphs underlined. It is just what I needed this week for devotions.
1. Oh it is so easy to praise God wen the blessing are piled up, but the real test comes when disappointment calls and sorrow pulls up a chair.
2. Christmas is all about miracles!
3. God is in charge.
4. Why do we always fear the worst from God, when He loves us completely and always gives what is best?
5. We are not beyond the touch of God.
6. The truth is, God's strength is fully revealed when our strength is fully depleted.
I just love the story of Elizabeth and Mary and look forward to more readings about the two of them.
We see God's hand upon this whole story and the trust they had without seeing the outcome.
I want this trust. I want this expectation. I desire to be found faithful in the disappointments, Oh God!
Thanks you Gayla for pointing us to this book. It is just what I needed this Christmas season!

Robin said...

I loved the comment Liz makes "Even serving God in his holy temple, Zechariah was unprepared for something holy to happen." It helps me to realize that the people in the Bible are just like me. They struggle with the same things I struggle with. I know God will reveal himself in my life but I am still surprised when he shows up.

And this "Through all her years of feeling less-than, Elizabeth had worshiped a more-than God." That is my prayer that even when I am feeling less-than, I can remember who my God is.

This year God has really been teaching me who I am in Him. I have spent much of my life even as a believer feeling less-than, and this year God has been calling those lies out. He has reminded me over and over again that I am not tied to the failures or my past.