Friday, March 01, 2013
Read Luke chapter 1.
This chapter has enough to spend a week or more discussing but this is a chapter a day blog so I will dig out one item, it will still be a long one.
Let's look at Zechariah. Some facts and some things that we can glean from context, he is a priest, a Levite, he is old, has no children. He is serving in the temple, most of us Gentiles will not get all of the temple details but for the Jew, especially of that day they are significant events. The temple is divided into several places, the place where Zechariah is burning incense is called the Holy Place, it is not the Most Holy place but right next to it. It is forbidden to enter the Most Holy place with one exception, we will look at that at a different time, suffice to say that it is death to go in at the wrong time.
I see a touch of humor here, Zechariah is a priest ministering in the temple, yet he never expects God to be there. Sounds like most of us today, do we ever expect God to answer, or to be at church with us? It has been at least 425 years since God spoke through a prophet. It is easy to see how the society will lose any expectation of God speaking. Lets try to get an understanding of what Zechariah was doing, he is placing incense on the alter of the Holy place. This was a very special incense, the recipe was given to Moses and a command that no-one was to make it for themselves. It was God's own recipe. The smoke made a sweet fragrance, it represented the prayers and praises of God's people going up to Him. Do you see why it was unique? Our prayers and praises should be only for God.
So now let me paint a picture, Zechariah is in the Holy place alone. He is doing what has become routine.
The old ashes have been taken out of the altar, new coals added and incense sprinkled on the coals.
Perhaps he has paused just a moment to enjoy the fragrance. As he turns to leave there is an angel blocking his way. Now I do not profess to know what angels look like but I do not believe they look like flying babies with diapers and bows and arrows. Whenever we read about them the first thing they say is fear not. So I think it safe to say they are a formidable sight. I get the picture of Mr Clean, about eight feet tall with wings, real or not lets just go with that for now. So here is poor Zechariah, a priest with little faith, he is caught between an angel on one side and the Most Holy place on the other. There is for him no retreat. Now he is told that God has answered his prayers, but he does not believe.
This whole discourse could be about any one of us (myself included). We may spend time each day speaking with God yet when He answers we are surprised and we doubt.