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Summary: Zachariah & Elisabeth(PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: gcurley@gcurley.info)

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Reading: Luke chapter 1 verses 5-24 & 57-80.

Ill:

• I do not want to worry you but you have 36 shopping days to Christmas.

• Just over 5 weeks!

• Including today we have three Word & Worship services.

• Countdown to Xmas: Character’s in the Xmas story: Zacariah & Elisabeth

(a). Unbelief (verses 5-25).

Ill:

• Turn to the beginning of your New Testaments.

• Normally between the Old & New Testaments there is a blank page (look at it!)

• No I haven’t flipped. That blank page is an important reminder;

• The people had not heard a prophetic Word from God for 400 years.

• That blank page covers a 400 year old chasm.

• 400 years of heavenly dumbness, heavenly silence.

• No prophet, declaring: “Thus says the Lord”.

• No prophet, writing on a scroll; “The word of the Lord came to me saying…..”

• Just 400 years of stillness,

• A voiceless heaven.

Now that does not mean God has not been working, controlling the world he has made:

• During that 400 year silence six flags throw over the nation.

• Six occupying governments.

• God was behind the scenes orchestrating these governments;

• Preparing his world for the coming of his son.

• e.g. Alexander the Great united the world with a trade language

• ‘Koine’ Greek.

• So that when the message of Christ was to be preached and written down;

• It was in a language everyone could understand.

• e.g. God used the Romans to build roads all over Europe;

• Allowing the gospel to be able to spread across the civilised world.

Quote David O’Brien:

“The events, literature and social forces of these years

would shape the world of the New Testament”.

• History is ‘His Story’;

• And God is always (silently or visibly) working his purposes out!

During those 400 years of silence:

• A variety of influences appeared;

• That splintered Jewish society in religious fractions.

• The three primary groups were the Essenes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

• The Essenes are not mentioned in the New Testament (fame was preserving Dead Sea scrolls).

• The Pharisees and the Sadducees of course get lots of mentions;

• But instead of helping the people find God they merely put hindrances in their way.

• ill: Jesus would describe their leadership skills as ‘the blind leading the blind’.

• ill: And even worse he says of them; ‘Like white washed tombs’.

So the religious condition of the nation was not good:

• Yet no matter how dark the day,

• God always has His devoted and obedient people – enter Zechariah & his wife.

Incredible as it may seem:

• God choose to end the 400 years of silence;

• Not with a word to the nation.

• But by selecting an ordinary priest and his wife as choosing to speak to them!

• God chose after 400 years to publicly speak to what we might call two nobodies!

(1). A faithful priest (verse 5-7).

(1). Their names (verse 5a):

”In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron

• His name ‘Zechariah’ means; "Jehovah has remembered".

• He was married to Elisabeth ’("God is my oath").

The meaning of Zechariah’s name is a great expression ‘God remembered’:

• This means much more than God recalls something to his mind.

• It means much more than refreshing ones memory (not that God forgets!).

Quote: Ronald Youngblood:

“To remember someone means to express concern for someone,

to visit someone with gracious love”

• God was always conscience of Zechariah & Elizabeth.

• And when the time was right he would show that concern in visible ways.

(2). Their occupations (verse 5b):

• Aaron the Levite (the brother of Moses) was Israel’s first High Priest.

• Every descendant of Aaron the Levite was automatically a priest.

• The priesthood was something you inherited whether you wanted to or not.

• This meant that there was far too many priests than were needed.

• In Zechariah’s time the priesthood bulged with more than 20,000 members.

• These were divided into twenty-four-divisions (1 Chronicles chapter 24),

• Only at Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles did all the priests serve.

• For the rest of the year each division did two stints a year, each stint was a week long.

Note: A priest was only allowed to marry a woman of pure Jewish family background:

• It was especially meritorious, praise-worthy to marry a woman;

• Who was also a descendant of Aaron.

• Elizabeth the wife of Zechariah was a descendant of Aaron.

• And so this was very commendable.

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