Gabriel Visits ZechariahJames Dewhurst November 29, 2020
Gabriel Visits Zechariah
Today, not only marks the first Sunday of Advent, but we also begin a brand new series leading up to Christmas called – Visitations! Over the next several weeks, we are going to explore 3 visitations by angels, to three significant people, before Jesus’ birth!!!
Today, we are going to examine the first angelic Visitation – Gabriel Visits Zechariah!
The last recorded angelic appearance in the Bible was that of Gabriel, the archangel, who had appeared to the Prophet Daniel as he was in his prayer closet, seeking the Lord for Israel. It was 600 B.C., and Gabriel was delivering a message from God!
Fast forward 600 years, and Gabriel breaks his angelic silence with another heaven sent message to a faithful man of God. His name?
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. 8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been 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 before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will 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 and he will 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 for the Lord a people prepared.” 18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. 24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” (ESV)
-At the time of Gabriel’s appearance, Zechariah was ministering in the house of God in Jerusalem, because he was a priest. We always seem to hear best in God’a house!
-Zechariah was from the tribe of Levi, and as a priest was responsible for offering up sacrifices for his own sins, and the sins of others, while keeping up the temple duties.
-While he was in the presence of God, Zechariah heard from God, which made him the first person in the New Testament to hear from or speak with an angel!
-What was the big angelic message? Similar to Abraham and Sarah’s surprise back in Genesis, Zechariah and Elizabeth were told they were having a son in their old age!
-The continuation of the family line was everything in Zechariah’s day, and a failure to birth a son would not only signal the end to their family, it was considered shameful!
-Zechariah prayed for years for a son, and none came during their child bearing years! Why now? Why after they are too old? God does his best work when it looks over!
-Much like Abraham and Sarah, Zechariah struggled to believe it would really happen and asked for a sign so Gabriel gave him one. When Zechariah came out of the temple, he was unable to speak until his son was born!
-Luke tells us that after the surprise visit from Gabriel, newly mute Zechariah, and his overjoyed elderly pregnant wife went home and lived in seclusion until he was born!
The biggest question of all is, who was this supernatural surprise son, and why did God choose these two silver saints to deliver him? By custom, every great king always had a forerunner who went ahead to prepare the way, and announce his arrival.
And there was a king coming! So, God sent a boy he named John, later in known as John the Baptist, who served as a New Testament Elijah to prepare the way for King Jesus, preaching repentance and baptism. God’s decision in choosing Zechariah and Elizabeth was one of character and circumstance. Elizabeth just happened to be the aunt of Mary, the future mother of Jesus, who would serve as an confidant for Mery who wasn’t even married. One mother, a teenager wearing pimples, and another mother with grey hair and wrinkles, would share together a secret that would soon change the world.
But perhaps the most important qualifier of all was who they were! The Bible tells us that Zechariah and Elizabeth were both blameless and obedient to all of God’s laws and decrees and even goes so far to say in verse 6 that they were, “Righteous in the sight of the Lord.” There are a lot of people who are considered before a man to be righteous by man’s standards, but a Holy God called them righteous. They not only walked blameless before man, they were blameless before God! It is godly people that God not only sends his message to, but also sends his message through!
God knew he could trust their character to counsel the crier of the coming king!
But what about the delay? If these two people were so faithful to God for so many years, why died he allow them to remain childless and delay their answered prayers?
Culturally, she lived in disgrace and shame, and he would sure to have no successor.
While other people enjoyed their children, these two saints just watched and waited!
All they wanted was a son, but all they did was wait!
We all can have a tendency to view seasons of waiting as being overlooked, forgotten, shamed, or worst of all, being condemned by a God who claims to love and forgive us. But the Bible actually has specific promises for those who have been faithfully waiting:
31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (ESV)
34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off. (ESV)
4 From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. (ESV)
7 But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. (ESV)
A preacher once said – “You can either passively wait on God through worry, or you can actively wait on God through worship.”
A wise person said – “It’s better to wait and watch things fall in place, than to rush and watch things fall apart.”
Someone else said – “We must learn trust God, even when his answer is ‘Wait’.”
A person of faith said – “If God is making you wait, then get ready to receive more than you originally asked for!”
Your patience is leading to a promotion!
> Joseph had to wait for 13 years in a prison, but God brought him to the palace!
> Abraham had to wait for 25 years for a son, then God gave him millions of sons!
> Moses had to wait for 40 years in a desert, then God placed him in front of Pharoah!
> Jesus had to wait for 33 years, then God raised him on a cross to save mankind
9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (ESV)
We block our blessings when we our fear makes us move faster than our Father!
The words “proper time” used in that passage mean: Moment of importance or significance. When something is ready!
Year after year, Zechariah and Elizabeth endured the embarrassment, gossip, shame and disgrace of being public figures in a culture that counted children as God’s blessing. All they wanted wanted was a son. They would have been happy to just raise a normal, everyday son who lived a good life in relative obscurity who carried on the family name. But God had a different plan. He had a better plan, but it had to wait. You see God saw their love and faithfulness, and he heard every one of their sincere prayers. So, he planned to bless them beyond their wildest dreams. He wanted to redeem all of those dark years, that they thought were lost, by blessing them with a son who would bring revival to the world, and personally baptize the Son of God. Sure, they didn’t get to sit with the other parents at the soccer games, but they would watch John baptize Jesus in the waters of the Jordan River! They would have settled for less, but God had more!
The longer it takes, the better it’s going to be!
The story of Zechariah is a reminder that God never forgets! It’s a reminder that while God is busy working on the bigger picture, He is still working on yours!!!
We serve a God who has the power to go Panoramic, but also go Personal!
1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; (ESV)
He’s not forgotten! He’s not too busy! He’s not one track minded! He is working!
Waiting doesn’t always mean something is wrong. Waiting often means God is working!
3 encouragements from Zechariah and Elizabeth while you are waiting:
1. Stay Persistent!
Zechariah went to the temple and faithfully worshipped and served the Lord, regardless!
Hebrews 11:6 “…he is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek him.”
2. Stay Patient!
Isaiah 50:7 “…I set [planted] my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.”
3. Stay Pure!
5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
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