From The Pastor’s Desk…..
“LOCKDOWN: ZECHARIAH: A PREGNANT PAUSE.”
We read in chapter one of Luke’s Gospel Zechariah’s experience of Lockdown.
The name Zechariah means “Jehovah Remembers”
Zechariah was a Priest, from the Priestly division of Abijah. (v5)
Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife, was descended from Aaron. (v5)
Both of them are described as “Righteous in the sight of God.” “Observing all The Lord’s Commands and Decrees blamelessly.” (v6)
They were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. (v7). This would have been difficult for them both but especially for Elizabeth. In her culture, as in some cultures today, to not have a child means that others look upon you as not Blessed of God. Or, as still being like a child. Treated with disdain.
Zechariah’s division was on duty at the Temple. He was chosen by lot to go into the Temple of The Lord to burn the incense, morning and evening. This was deemed a huge honour. Not many got to fulfil this task. (v9)
The people gathered to pray. Quiet mental prayers. When the bell was tinkled that meant that the Priest was burning the incense inside and the assembled worshippers outside should pray. (v10)
Imagine Zechariah’s thoughts and feelings, as he concentrated on his duties, alone, in the silence when The Angel Gabriel appeared standing to the right of the altar of incense. Not surprisingly Zechariah was, “startled and gripped with fear.” (v12)
The Angel Gabriel delivers his message, (v13-17). In short Zechariah and Elizabeth are to have a son. His name is to be John. He will bring great joy and delight to them. Many will join in those celebrations. He will be great in the sight of The Lord. He is not to drink wine or fermented drink and he will be filled with The Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring many people of Israel to The Lord their God. He will go on before The Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the Righteous – to make ready a people prepared for The Lord! What a Calling!!
Zechariah’s Questioning and Unbelief resulted in his Lockdown! (v18-20)
Gabriel announces the Lockdown, ” I am Gabriel. I stand in The Presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.
We are not told when Zechariah had prayed for a child. It was probably a long long time ago. He had all but given up on the prayer. But it remained before The Lord, waiting the time of its fulfilment. How many prayers have we prayed for, forgotten, given up on? They remain before The Lord. Some of them are waiting His Perfect Timing to be fulfilled. Spend time, during Lockdown waiting upon The Lord, listening to The Holy Spirit……….
Back to Zechariah. The people understood that he had seen a vision in the Temple. “He kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.” (v22)
Zechariah completed his duties then returned home to Elizabeth. She became pregnant……(v24)
The Bible moves on, sharing Elizabeth’s story – Her visit by Mary. Mary’s Song. The fact that she gave birth to her son. But, Zechariah had a pregnancy too. In his life and spirit during silent Lockdown.
1. ZECHARIAH: A PREGNANT PAUSE: PREPARATION OF SELF
Zechariah entered Lockdown to experience a reshaping of self!
Intimacy With God!
Fresh Appreciation of The Miracle Working God! Whom he had served for most, if not all, of his life.
Fresh Experience of The “Self Revelation of God!”
He was being called into a Deeper Relationship With God!
2. ZECHARIAH: A PREGNANT PAUSE: PRAYERFUL INTERCESSION
Zechariah entered Lockdown to pray!
To Shape The Future By Praying Over His Child, A Son!
We know him as John The Baptist. The forerunner of Jesus.
In the silence Zechariah served God by helping to birth the future ministry, by prayer and groaning, of the Prophet/Evangelist who would baptise Jesus, make way for Christ The King and declare, “Behold The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29).
He was being called into a Developmental Relationship With God!
3. ZECHARIAH: A PREGNANT PAUSE: PUBLIC EXPLANATION
Zechariah entered Lockdown to give an explanation!
Read: Luke 1:57-61
Zechariah had not been able to speak during the entire Lockdown period. After the birth of the child there was great rejoicing as family and friends heard of the great mercy of The Lord towards Elizabeth. ((v57-58)
On the eighth day, the time to circumcise the child had arrived. They were going to name him after his father, as tradition stated, Zechariah. But his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” They questioned her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”
Over recent months they had, no doubt found it easier to talk to Elizabeth than to try and communicate through a form of sign language with Zechariah. But, in this instance the group looked to find out his take on the name for his son. He asked for a writing tablet, and “to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, His name is John.” (v63).
He was being called to make a Declaration With God!
Lockdown ended for Zechariah when he made the Declaration! His mouth was open and his tongue was set free, and he began to speak, praising God.
The response of neighbours, as well as family, was astonishment, awe, word spread throughout the hill country of Judea. Each of them asked a question and made a statement. The question, “What then is this child going to be?” The statement, “For The Lord’s Hand was with him.” (v66)
Perhaps for us, as it was for Zechariah, Lockdown is a “Pregnant Pause?”
1. For – Preparation of Self
2. For – Prayerful Intercession
3. For – Public Explanation
NB: DON’T RUSH THE PREGNANT PAUSE!!