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Luke 1:5-13 (God’s information about John the Baptizer)
Luke 1:14-17 ESV
Psalm 127:3-5 ESV
Deuteronomy 6:7 ESV
Before John the Baptizer was conceived, God gave Zechariah very specific information about his birth (Luke 1:5-13) and his character.
God told Zachariah, a Priest from the tribe of Levi that his unexpected long-awaited child would bring his parents and his people a great blessing.
More specifically, Zechariah was told that his son would be filled with the Holy Spirit even in the womb.
In Luke 1:14-17 we learn, “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 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. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 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.”
I believe that all the prayers Zechariah and Elizabeth spoke through the years were answered. Because Hebrew boys and girls came of age at twelve years, girls could be given in marriage as soon as they could bare children. In order to take a wife, a Hebrew male had to have a trade so he could support a family. Because Zechariah was from the tribe of Levi the plan for his life would have included the priesthood.
Zachariah and Elizabeth could have married as soon as his station in life was established.
As soon as they married, they would have started praying for children. Children were God’s blessing.
Psalm 127:3-5 says:
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”
Zechariah and Elizabeth had not been given a heritage early in life.
They were faithful to their calling but they had no reward.
They had no arrows they had fashioned in their hand.
So, what was important about the arrows? At the time Psalm 127 was written you didn’t buy arrows at the local sporting good’s store. You had to carefully select wood and carefully carve the arrow by hand. The writer likens carving an arrow to training a child. The arrow has to be fashioned in a way that it will go in the direction it’s intended. When an arrow is shot it must be fashioned so it will hit the mark every time.
The arrow can only be as good as the carver who made it.
AND (here’s the important part) the arrow can accomplish good or evil so it needs to be used for God. The arrow must know God and God’s ways.
In the last phrase of verse 4 the writer specifically states the arrow is fashioned in a man’s youth
Since Zachariah and Elizabeth were no longer young they faced special challenges. They would have to be very mindful of how to train this special child.
I think God carefully planned everything so the wise parents of John the Baptizer would give the child exactly what he needed in order for him to accomplish the task God had for him.
God knew exactly what the one who preceded Jesus needed to accomplish!
In verse 5 the psalmist says the man who has many children is very blessed and he will not have shame when people come to their house.
The reality for Zachariah and Elizabeth was that they had gone for years…well past the time to bare a child and they had not been blessed. That would have been painful and difficult for them.
All of that sets the stage to help us understand how much it would have meant to Zachariah and Elizabeth to have a child…and specifically a son!
Now in their golden years they would have the thing they had always wanted. In addition to that in Luke 1:14-17, the Angel gave Zachariah very specific instructions for the child. He was told the child could not partake of strong drink. They were told he would be filled with the Holy Spirit and he would have power like the Prophet Elijah so he will turn many in Israel toward God.
Zachariah was even told fathers will return to their children stabilizing the family unit and purpose.
Zachariah understood the child would turn the disobedient back to God’s wisdom and they would be prepared for the Lord’s coming.
We know Zachariah and Elizabeth did not have the advantage of hindsight that we have today.
Many of the things the Angel shared would have been a mystery.
We also know in time everything was made clear when he started his ministry. His parents were older when he was born but it was customary for parents to repeat the words of a prophecy to their child or children.
In The Shema in Deuteronomy 6:7 Israel was told, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
The practice of passing sacred words to their children had been done for centuries in Israel and Zachariah and Elizabeth would have taught John the Baptizer well.
They would have told him when he sat in their house, when he walked by the way, when he layed down, and when he rose up. He would have known because Zachariah and Elizabeth had waited all their lives to become parents! God took that time to prepare them.
Spiritual Practice: Memorize
Memorize Deuteronomy 6:7 and speak words of God to children.
In God, Deborah