Summary: This was a dark period for the nation of Israel. The people had not heard a prophetic word from God in over 400 years, not since Malachi had announced the coming of Elijah (Mal. 4:5-6). The spiritual leaders were shackled by tradition, and in some....
(1) The Birth of John the Baptist is Announced at the Temple in Jerusalem
Scriptures (Num. 6:3) Luke 1:5-25
Luke 1:5-25 (NKJV)
5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.
8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division,
9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel 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.
14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.
16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”
19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings.
20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”
21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple.
22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless.
23 So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house.
24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying,
25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”
This was a dark period for the nation of Israel. The people had not heard a prophetic word from God in over 400 years, not since Malachi had announced the coming of Elijah (Mal. 4:5-6). The spiritual leaders were shackled by tradition, and in some instances by corruption, and their king, Herod the Great, was a tyrant. He had nine (some say ten) wives, one of whom he had executed for no apparent reason. But, no matter how dark the day, God always has His obedient and devoted people. I believe that the story of the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist shows that God has a since of humor. First, God has been silent for over 400 years and when He finally speaks, the man He speaks to doesn’t believe Him. The angel Gabriel then strikes the man so that he can’t speak. Can you imagine all the motions that he went through as he tried to explain that he had seen an angel and what had happened to him? Now let’s look at what Luke says about this event.