Expect A Great Blessing
Expect a great blessing! This could be the day!
The story begins, “Once upon a time in a land far far away…” In this case it’s Jerusalem. Zacharias was a priest in the Temple serving in his order according to the appointment in the order of Abijah. One of his responsibilities was to burn incense in the Holy Place and offer up prayers to God for the people and for himself. While he was praying in his customary way, there suddenly appeared an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. . This was no every day occurrence. In fact, there had been no angelic appearances or prophetic words from the Lord since the last words of the prophet Malachi, 400 years earlier.
So to say that Zacharias was shocked and in great fear is to put it mildly. He was more likely terrified.
Knowing this, the angel, Gabriel, 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. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth…” Luke 1:13
The angel continues to prophecy concerning John and his ministry to the people of Israel. There is much that we could say about this first moment of restored communication between earth and heaven. For Zacharias to be privileged to burn incense in the Holy place was a privileged experience. The prayers he had been praying for years now he is offering up to God in the Holy place of the temple, the place of God’s dwelling among His people. That in itself is worthy of deeper exploration. But there are three important principles that we can take away from this arresting moment.
1). When waiting to hear from God or to see the realization of something so long anticipated we can become desensitized and lose all expectation that anything will happen. Our prayers can become rote and our hearts unegagged. We can, like Zacharias, reach a place where we just go through the motions not really expecting anything to change. Then when something does happen, we can be shocked or like Zacharius, be filled with fear. We can become troubled in our hearts and minds. Our first thoughts are, “What’s wrong?” “What did I do, now?” “Why is this happening to me?” “What am I going to do?”
But hear what the angel says, “DO NOT BE AFRAID, (put your name here), your prayer is heard and your petition is granted. You’re experiencing something wonderful! Go with it. Believe it. Receive it. A good thing is coming your way and it’s going to be a blessing to you and to those you love and even people you don’t know will be positively, joyfully effected by it.”
The answered prayer for Zacharias was that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a son despite their advanced age. God was doing the miraculous in their lives. Their miracle would herald the restored communication between God and His covenant people, Israel. And not only Israel, but also the whole world was about to benefit from the gift to this one old man and his elderly wife.
2) God is faithful to His word. Zacharias was faithful to pray even though it felt like he was only going through the motions. He was faithful to his calling. Even in his old age he kept praying for something that would have been simple in his youth but now, seemed impossible. Why was he even bothering to ask? Because He believed God and he hoped beyond hope. He kept on doing what he knew was right to do and what he was called to do.
Perhaps, God has given you a gift, a calling, a talent a skill, even a ministry. Whatever it is do it faithfully. It may not seem like it’s making any difference and at times it may only seem routine and uninspired. But don’t let that move you from the faithful fulfillment of your calling. Do your work, do your job, exercise your gift. Pray and keep on praying. Love and keep on loving, give and keep on giving, Whatever you do, do it with a faithful expectation that someday there will appear the answer you have sought for so long. It could happen any moment.
Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged, your prayers are being heard.
3) Finally, when the “hoped for” suddenly happens, God wants you to embrace it. Take hold of it. Enjoy it and share the joy with others, not run from it in fear.
There was no intent to burden Zacharias with this blessing, especially in his and Elizabeth’s old age. The Bible does not tell us how old Elizabeth and Zacharias were but by modern standards they may not have seemed so old. If priests were obliged to retires and age 50 then at most Zacharias was 49 or fifty when he was serving in the temple at the time of this angelic visitation
Having a child at 60 or 70 years old can be a pretty frightening thing especially if you’ve never had children before. Oh! the responsibility of it all! Will I live long enough to be of any value to him? Will he be a blessing or a rebellious child? Will I have enough money to send him to college? How will I keep up with the y0unger parents at PTA meetings? What will I do when it’s my turn to chaperone the kids? Will I have the energy to teach him to play sports or ride a bike or…
Whatever the worry or concern there might have been, God intended for them to have great joy in this child and to raise him to become a man of God. He did not send the blessing to leave them without resource of goods or life to fulfill it. And they did that and John became a great man of God. Jesus called him the greatest prophet of all.
The blessing of the Lord is not burdensome.
“The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it. Proverbs. 10:22
Expect a great blessing! This could be the day!