Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Zacharias and the Blessing - Luke 1

I’ve had the privilege this last week to read through several times the familiar stories found in Luke’s first chapter. I’ve known for quite a while that there is blessing to be gained by doing this – simply re-reading the same passage for many days. Eventually, you begin to notice things that are just simply missed with a casual once through pass of Scripture. I’m convinced this is a key to unlocking some of the mystery of the Bible and I’m personally choosing to use this method for Bible study throughout 2012.

On my first pass through the reading, I usually mark anything that jumps out at me as either a word or phrase I’m unfamiliar with or something I just want to investigate a little further. Then I start digging around in my various Bible resources to see what I can find out. Much to my surprise I found an answer last week to a question I wasn’t even asking. The Priest Zacharias was performing his service in the holy of holies when the angel appeared and told him he and Elizabeth would soon be having a child, John the Baptist.

Luke 1:21 reads, “The people were waiting for Zacharias”. So here’s the question, “Why, what were they waiting for?” And the answer I came across in 3 different resources all said this – they were waiting for him to say the familiar blessing found in Numbers 6:22-27. And what a blessing it is! I’m sure this is familiar to you:

The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace

However, because Zacharias doubted the words of the angel, the Lord caused him to be mute and the people waited in vain on that day, they did not receive the blessing they hoped for.

We’re not told exactly what Zacharias doubted. God’s words? The angel is really from God? God’s power to cause his aged and barren wife to conceive? Or was it a combination or all of these that Zacharias was doubting? Even though we aren’t sure what was the cause, we can still learn from his momentary lack of faith.

When we doubt God’s Word, the reality of God’s presence, God’s ability or willingness to act on our behalf, the result is that we, like Zacharias, will be mute. Doubts, of any kind, leave us with our lips sealed, shut tight – unwilling and unable to properly witness to anyone around us. And the result is that we have failed to bring the Lord’s Blessing to others. We no longer tell of God’s wonderful and merciful dealings with us – because we doubt they really happened because of God!

But notice in Luke 1:64, Zacharias was ready to be obedient as evidenced by his choice of name for his son. And now, his once mute mouth, brought forth PRAISES! I think any time we have doubts, if we will just begin to praise the Lord, the doubts will disappear. It is as if the doubts are brought to our minds by Satan’s minions – and they won’t stick around if you’re verbally, out loud, praying, witnessing to others, or singing God’s praises. It would be like in the movies when they splash holy water on a vampire! Praise vanquishes Doubt!

Then something wonderful happens in verse 67, Zacharias is now filled with the Holy Spirit and is used by the Lord to utter prophecy. This is a great lesson for us. Zacharias first praised God, THEN he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and THEN the Lord used him, gave him a job to do – a ministry that only he was able and suited to carry out.

Oh, if we would only learn to do this simple thing – vanquish all our doubts with praise! Then we too can be entrusted to do great things for the Lord, helping to establish His Kingdom. When we praise the Lord, we become useful to our God; it shows our humility and a proper attitude. Praise Him!

Romans 15:13 – “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Journal Prompts:

How have the words of others served as a blessing in your life?

Recall a time when you conquered your fear to speak with someone about the Lord.

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