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Lesson # Luke 1:8-13
Study Material - Luke 1:8-13
You must be in fellowship prior to your Bible study, so that the spiritual information you receive can become a source, of blessing to your soul and produce spiritual growth.
8 Now it came about, while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. 11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear gripped him. 13 But the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.'
Zacharias was at work performing his job as he had done for so many years. He performed his job faithfully and accepted his work by lot as was the custom of the Levites. There were a lot of functions to be performed in the Temple and so that no one could get the good jobs and no one would be stuck with the bad jobs, a lot was drawn in order to be fair with all and they let the lot fall as God intended it with each drawing.
Zacharias was up for work in the normal course of his rotation, which was the eighth in the order of Abijah, as the rotations were established centuries before. So despite the lack of spiritual growth in the general public, the rituals were adhered to closely even though there were many in the priesthood, the Pharisees and such, that were actually unbelievers.
Ritual without reality is meaningless. The purpose of the function must be attached with the ritual function otherwise nothing is learned. When you study your Bible nightly, or when ever you do your studies, you must be in fellowship, otherwise you are wasting your time spiritually. Too many people attend church and gain nothing of the benefit from their attendance, because they merely go through the motions for appearances or the social interaction with other people.
The function of Zacharias was to burn the incense which is a symbol of the offering of prayer which is acceptable to God. The incense represents fellowship and its pleasantness to God as He accepts the prayers offered. David understood this when he wrote Psa. 141:2, where prayer and lifting up of the arms were the replacement of incense and sacrifice.
Both functions must go hand in hand. That is, fellowship and prayer must go together otherwise they are ineffective. In all we do we must follow God's prescribed plan and procedures for our relationship with Him to be effective. There was a multitude outside the outer room, in silent prayer, at the hour of the incense offering in accordance with the Law written by Moses and in accordance with God's command. There were those people who were positive toward God, those who had some semblance of spiritual growth. Despite the overwhelming multitudes in the country that were negative or simply apathetic toward God.
Suddenly and angel appeared before Zacharias, the angel Gabriel. Zacharias was the first to interact with and angel in the New Testament, while Zechariah was the last to have an interaction with an angel in the Old Testament some 4 centuries earlier. Typically the phrase 'angel of the Lord', refers to a pre-first advent manifestation of Jesus Christ unless it is accompanied with some qualifying statements of identity. Here we have the angel identified in verse 19 in this chapter.
The angel stood to the right of the alter of incense with good news and encouragement, in contrast to Satan who stood to the right with accusation against Joshua in Zech 3:1. Zacharias was startled somewhat by his appearance. He had been performing his duties for many years without the typical repetitious activities. Neither God nor angel had appeared to anyone for over 400 years and no one else was supposed to be in the outer room during this sacred ceremony. Zacharias stood facing the alter of incense with the outer door behind him, and the Holy of Holies entrance in front of him, when Gabriel suddenly appeared in front of him and to the right of the alter. He could have only come from the inner Holy room obviously, or so Zacharias possibly thought. He certainly did not come through the door behind him. So this was from God and consequently the startled and now increasingly frightened Zacharias was grasping the reality losing some poise.
Gabriel calmed him quickly with his opening remarks. 'Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.' Now wouldn't that be a shocker. Suddenly you think you see no other than God and he states that your prayer asking for a son has been approved. Not only approved but the child already has a name, John, which means 'God is gracious'.
Gabriel has much more to say in the next few verses, but first note that Zacharias and his wife are up in years and incapable of having children, yet Zacharias still prays for a son. That is his petition. Remember that every prayer has a petition and desire component. See the chart on the index page on prayers. Here his petition has been approved, not the desire portion. Zacharias wanted a son for a family and an heir to his estate. Every Father wants a son to carry on the family business, to carry the family tradition, and so forth. John would have but one purpose and that would be spelled out in the next few verses. We all have a purpose in life which may or may not be obvious to us depending on our level of spiritual growth.
But anyway, Zacharias was beyond child production abilities yet he still prayed for a son. God is able to perform any function. Whether it is His will or not is another matter. If we do not pray, we will not receive. Faith must be combined with prayer to be effective. Your relationship with God demands an effective prayer life. All valid prayers, that is all prayers offered while in fellowship are cataloged in heaven. God does not forget them. Though we pray for something while young, God may answer it when we are old. Often times people ask for money while they are young, and if God granted it you might not depend on God nor learn to depend on God, but rather depend on your money. Later in life after you have lived a good life and attained maturity and realize that you don't need money as long as God is taking care of you, then God may grant you your prayer.
Whichever the case, whether your prayer is granted or not, you should continue to pray in the appropriate fashion because God may be gracious and grant you some portion of your prayer. God is grace, and He strongly desires to be gracious to His chosen. But spiritual growth comes before reward. You must first sow the seed of doctrine in your soul before you can harvest its rewards. Patience and contentment are two virtues which both Zacharias and his wife demonstrated and for that they received a son named 'gracious'.
Now is the time to post a prayer.
End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.
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