Or, God’s timetable isn’t like ours…
Luke Chapter 1 tells the story of an old man named Zecharias. He was married to an old woman named Elizabeth who was a relative of the Virgin Mary. They lived in the hill country of Judah, exact location unknown.
Both were of the priestly line. They had no children – Elizabeth was barren, and in their culture barrenness was considered a punishment for sin. Yet both were righteous in God’s eyes, and to the best of their ability they continued to worship Him, keeping the law.
Zecharias (and no doubt Elizabeth) had long prayed for a son. But, he was old and she was barren, so it was now impossible. So, was he still praying? He was still faithful to do his job, in any case.
One supposedly ordinary day Zecharias was going about his business, doing his ordinary priestly job. This soon became an other than ordinary day for him, however…
“Now it came about, while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.” (Luke 1:8, 9)
It was his turn to minister before the golden altar of incense in the Holy Place, possibly for the first time in his priestly service. With so many priests serving in the Temple, entering the Holy Place and kindling the incense upon the golden altar was possibly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared to Zacharias, standing to the right of the altar of incense. The angel gave him an extraordinary message, on this extraordinary day. His prayers had been answered; he and Elizabeth would have a child. And not just an ordinary child, an extraordinary son. He was to give him the name John. Read the chapter for yourself.
Some thoughts about Zecharias:
- He was old. So was his wife.
- He was childless, thought by the culture to be a punishment for sin.
- He was considered by God to be righteous, however. Blameless.
- He had prayed for a son, starting in the days when having a child was still possible, biologically speaking.
- He was faithful to his job, his calling, despite that disappointment.
- He was granted favor, mercy, compassion; an answer to his prayer.
- His prayer wasn’t answered in an ordinary way, in an ordinary location – an angel came to his job site, while he was doing his job; being faithful to do his job.
- He was human; he doubted the angel’s message. Considering his age and the length of time he had been praying, that was a quite understandable response.
- He was corrected but not condemned for his doubt.
- He wasn’t removed from his ordinary job, or replaced in his extraordinary new job: being a parent. A very old parent!
- He was granted a device to help him assuage his doubt: silence until the baby was born.
How long have we prayed the same prayer, over, and over, and over? How often have we decided to give up, quit doing this job, quit worshiping, quit praying, quit believing? Until it will take a supernatural, extraordinary miracle for it to happen?
But those do still happen. Zecharias and Elizabeth were just two of many people who received miraculous answers to prayer.
Never quit being faithful to your current assignment. Never quit praying. Never quit believing.