Summary: A Christmas time message about Zechariah and Elizabeth
HOLY DAYS, HOLY PEOPLE
Ready for a miracle?
Luke 1:5-25; 57-65
Introduction – Christmas is 24 days away!
• Waiting for Christmas is hard…especially for kids.
• Sears catalog in October/November…wonder and wait
• Xmas is a time of waiting for many and it started that way
• God hadn’t spoken to his people for 400 years…waiting
• No angels had shown up with good news for Israel.
• No God fearing king to usher in an era of prosperity.
• No deliverers rose up to throw out the oppressors.
• No word from the Lord since the prophet Malachi. 400
• The worship of God had been corrupted.
• For the most part, God’s people were godless.
• The religious leaders were absolutely terrible.
• Sadducees were corrupt & getting kickbacks from Romans
• Pharisees were legalists who beat people down w/rules
• The Roman pagans were occupying the holy lands.
• They put Herod the Great in charge of God’s people because he was half Jewish.
• He beautified and expanded God’s Holy Temple and then hung a big Roman eagle right over the entrance way.
• These were dark times among Israel w/no hope on horizon
• You think it’s hard to wait for Christmas? Try waiting 400 years for someone to come or for something to change!
Segue: That was the setting of the very first Christmas. And that’s sets the stage for the very first Christmas characters.
Zechariah and Elizabeth (READ vs 5-7)
5 When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. 6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.
Righteous in God’s eyes.
• That simply means they were in right standing with God.
• When God looked upon these people he saw faithfulness.
• These people were quietly doing good from within a crooked society & corrupted religion. True believers.
• And I want to point out…the Father noticed.
• Some of you feel just like Zech & Elizabeth….feel like you are the only one trying 2B faithful in your family, marriage, place of employment…know this: God sees your faithful…
• Careful to obey the commandments and regulations.
• Commandments refer to their personal conduct, they obeyed the Law of Moses, kept the faith.
• Also obeyed regulations which were the rules of worship
• If there was an offering required they gave it, if there was a religious holiday they observed it, if there was a church potluck they brought the 3 Bean Salad…or a Jell-O mold.
• For all that was going well there was heartache in their live
• Unable to conceive.
• In Jewish society childless couples were thought 2B cursed
• Everyone in town wondered what you’d done wrong, what God was punishing you for.
• In the ancient world kids were also your retirement plan.
• But time had gone by & they were now very old…the hope of children was gone…didn’t even think about it anymore.
Segue: They weren’t waiting for kids…they’d given up hope.
Serving in the Temple (8-10):
8 One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. 9 As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.
• There were 18,000 priests on rotation for temple service.
• That’s about half of our town! A lot of priests.
• Because there were so many, only a few men served full time at the temple…the rest just rotated.
• So the priests lived and worked among the tribes of Israel
• Zechariah served twice a year.
• I know what some of you are thinking. I could just help twice a year because that’s the biblical standard!
• You help us get 18,000 people helping & we’ll call it a deal!
• These men would travel in groups to the temple to serve.
• Each priest would help offer the daily offering once in his life time.
• Roll dice…cast lots…to see who would do what.
• The idea was God would orchestrate the results.
• Imagine all the men waiting, wondering if this would be the time that they were chosen. Let me set the scene 4U
-First lot was cast to see who’d cleanse the altar & prepare fire…it was some guy we’ll call Reuben. Like the sandwich.
-Second lot was cast to see who would kill the morning sacrifice and sprinkle the altar, the golden candlestick, and the altar of incense…we’ll call him Sven. (a good Jewish name…it’s my story!)