Summary: God has a plan for the life of each of us just as He had a plan for Zacharias, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist.
Text: “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways” (Luke 1:76).
God had a plan for the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth. Zacharias was a priest of the division of Abijah (one of the 24 sections of priests) and Elizabeth was of the linage of Aaron. Both of these people were “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke1:6).
As we well know, God always has a plan by which he works. That plan is not on the same timetable as ours. In other words, God puts his plan into action when it is the right time. We are aware of this because many times we have prayed and asked God to give us something or help us get something and it did not happen. It did not happen because it was not in God’s plan for us at that time.
During your lifetime recall the times you asked God to help you get that promotion or that particular job or position. How about the time you wanted to buy a certain house and the deal did not go through.
Remember your high school days and you had your eye on a certain young man or young lady, but a relationship never developed and you couldn’t understand why.
God has a plan for your life and a plan for my life. We can abide by His plan or we can by-pass it and do what we want to do. The problem with doing our own thing or following our own plan is we will have to suffer the consequences. If we are inpatient and choose to leave God out of our lives, we are headed for disaster. On the other hand, if we consult God concerning our issues, asking him to guide us according to his will, listening to his response, and then patiently waiting for his plan to kick into action, we will be in for a victory.
Scripture says that Zacharias and Elizabeth were both up in the ages, beyond childbearing years and had no children. These were God loving and God fearing people who served God daily. In those days, Jews believed that having children was a sign that they were in God’s favor. Those couples who did not have children or were childless were looked upon by other Jews as being displeasing to God. Most people do not want to feel they are displeasing to God and they don’t want other people to think such. This was not the case for Zacharias and Elizabeth because they were righteous in the eyes of God.
Zacharias and Elizabeth were dedicated to each other and by the same token, they were dedicated to God. They followed all the rules, regulations, and commandments of the Lord. The words they expressed to other people in their normal daily communication were words they lived by. They did not proclaim living one way and then live their personal lives another way. People could tell just by looking at them that they were blameless. There was nothing in the world that would indicate dishonesty or deliberate sin in their lives. Their names would never appear in the tabloid news.
Zacharias was truly devoted to carrying on the priestly duties assigned him. Scripture tells us: “According to the custom of the priesthood, his (Zacharias’) lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord” (Luke 1:9) on this particular day.
What is meant by the word “lot”?
According to “The American Heritage Dictionary” the word “lot” means “An object used in making a determination or choice by chance.”
We might thing of making a choice by rolling dice, pulling the smallest stick, or even flipping a coin. In the days of Zacharias, priestly duties were assigned by “lot”. Each priest was required to spend a week in the Temple twice a year. Keeping the incense burning on the altar in front of the Most Holy Place was a top honor for priests. According to an ancient Jewish commentary, called the Mishna, a Temple priest could offer incense only once in his lifetime. You can see that when that opportunity afforded itself, it was indeed a great honor. Someone said a modern comparison of a priest burning incense in the Temple would be like local pastors filling in for Billy Graham.
Zacharias won the honor of burning incense. Incense was burned two times each day in the Temple. When the priest went to burn the incense the tinkling of a bell was heard. This bell was the signal for the people gathered outside the Temple to start praying. The smoke from the burning incense drifted upward toward heaven and symbolized the prayers of the people ascending upward to God.