Summary: Christmas/Advent worship series titled “Lesser Known People of Advent.” We are looking at some of the people who played an important role in the first coming of Christ yet we may not have heard that much about them or what they did.
Lesser Know People of Advent Part 1 (Zechariah)
“Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” Luke 1:18
Intro: Today we start a new worship series titled “Lesser Known People of Advent.”
We are going to be looking at some of the people who played an important role in the first coming of Christ
yet you may not have heard that much about them or what they did.
Advent is the season leading up to the coming of Christ.
It is a time of waiting and preparation.
Advent is used to talk about the first coming of Christ at the Nativity.
Advent is also used to talk about the second coming of Christ in the future return.
We are going to begin with a man by the name of Zechariah.
Zechariah is the father of John the Baptist…, who we will talk about in a few weeks.
But let’s look at the back story first.
It had been 400 years since the people of Israel had heard from a prophet.
As a result, things had been upside-down in the nation for far too long.
Israel had long suffered under the corruption and dishonesty of weak Kings.
Kings who had turned the people of Israel away from God.
Israel had suffered under the brutality of the Assyrians and the Babylonians
and then for the past 63 years they had been occupied and oppressed by the ruthless Romans.
In 37, BC, following a failed rebellion, the Romans turned Judea into a Roman province.
Roman installed the Jewish King Herod the Great as administrator.
King is too lofty a title… he was more like a state governor.
Meanwhile, a faithful few held tightly to the promise of a coming deliverer – a Messiah –
who would set Israel free from their oppressors
A Messiah who would be a King like David, and sit on David’s throne.
He would establish a kingdom of righteousness and justice.
The people often would recited the words of Isaiah 9:6-7 “unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…
and the government will be upon his shoulders and his kingdom will never end.”
They held to the hope of the covenant God made with Abraham
that God would deliver them from their gloom and despair and troubles.
But it had been a long time of waiting and hoping.
Not much had been happening except injustice and more oppression
which seemed to have no end in sight.
At the temple in Jerusalem was a priest.
A Jewish priest.
He was very old.
His name was Zechariah.
All his life…, all he had ever known was foreign rule, and oppression.
Because of this he despised the Romans.
Zechariah was married to Elizabeth.
All of Zechariah’s life he had been waiting and praying for three things.
(1) to serve in the temple as Priest. (Where do you serve?)
(2) to be a Father. (Are you growing a stronger family?)
(3) to see the Messiah. (Where do you experience Jesus in your life?)
This week I got a phone call saying because I am a member of Hilton Honors
I qualified for a discount offer for 4 days 3 nights at Hilton Head Island Resort.
It sounded pretty good.
But there was a catch.
I had to attend a two hour offer to purchase a timeshare.
How many of you have gone through a timeshare offer before?
By the time you get ready, go through the sales pitch and travel back to your hotel
It takes a lot longer than two hours.
You might as well mark off the whole day.
You see you reach a certain point when you realize the most valuable thing you can spend is your time.
You never get time back.
Life is shorter than we want to think about.
To serve in the temple as Priest was a great honor.
It was an exclusive community of men
who could trace their descent back to Aaron, Moses' brother and who was the first high priest.
There were probably around 7200 ordinary priest at this time.
There were 24 priestly clans
and each priest would get to spend only one week out of the year serving at the temple in Jerusalem.
One day while on duty Zechariah received an unexpected blessing.
He was chosen to be the priest who would enter the Holy Place to offer incense to God for the people.
This is something Zechariah would have been looking forward to
and he may have waited a long time for this great privilege.
Serving in the church takes on a different meaning in today’s culture.
We know that Jesus taught that all God's people are called to minister to other