I love this account…
The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
5 When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. 6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.
8 One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week.9 As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.
11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.[b] 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,[c] and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”
18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”
19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. 22 When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.-hehe
23 When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. 24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months.25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
Thank You Luke for your account. Seriously, a big “ole Thank You to the disciples who walked torn and bleeding beside our Savior.
Now for some fun… Have you ever played Charades? I can just imagine Zechariah trying to show them what an angel looked like? He was afraid when he saw Gabriel, so you would think he would make a fierce face of some sort… anyway back to the main point. I have always found significance that Elizabeth’s babe leapt within her. I remember during my pregnancy with Cash, he did a sommersault when he was settling in to make an appearance and it HURT. I imagine that this movement done by John the Baptist was significant. It was a big deal. The Bible so often gives us the words that were spoken and so rarely the body language associated with it. I picture Mary saying, “Hey there Cuz!” and Elizabeth turning around from the microwave upon hearing someone enter her home and then upon the vocal words almost falling over with the force of John’s movement in the womb. Immediately she is filled with the Holy Spirit, because Mary carried His presence. Mary pregnant herself grabbing Elizabeth to keep her from falling. (Active imagination-I know! )
Elizabeth is overwhelmed that the Lord is in her house. Have you ever had someone you believed was really important come to see you, or take time away from what they were doing to speak to you, and you were a little dazed? I mean we put people who are human on pedestals ill created and capable of falling over since the foundation is earthly, but Elizabeth knew who was in her home. She felt Him there, I imagine that everywhere Mary went there was the same presence. What she carried was so great, so powerful, so anointed. The beauty of this was that there was little age difference between John the Baptist and Jesus. I am certain that there mothers shared information about the other with them as they grew. That they knew each other, and played together, shared stories and loved God together. I would have to question- since I don’t know- whether Jesus trained John in the ways of God, to prepare him for his life’s purpose, to turn Israelites back to God.
In the middle of your God moment, your angel appearance, there is often a crowd waiting on the outside, they are waiting to live by your faith, your experiences, most are content with that; few are not. You can be one of the few, who lives off of your own fresh revelation of God. You don’t need an angel to appear, a neon sign to flash, you delve into the word of God and you find Him right where He is, using the same living word to change you that He used to change countless generations before you.
I have shared that I do not consume alcohol. Most argue, Jesus turned water into wine, to drink and be merry, etc. For me, in my personal life, I can not touch it. I am not able to remain open to what God wants from me when I am filled with alcohol. When I am filled with anything other than His presence, I am unable to move on His behalf. I can’t and won’t speak for you and your personal choices. I do not believe personally that drinking is a sin. I do believe that few can stop themselves before they get to a point that is unhealthy to their walk with Christ. Those who walked beside me through a time they didn’t even know I was experiencing would be able to tell you that I was “different”. I wasn’t evil, but new sin had opened to me at that time, because I was weak.
He cannot be made strong in us when we are weakened due to choices we make. When I choose to drink, I am making a choice, no doubt about it. We don’t drink the alcoholic drink for it’s taste, I have had some delicious alcoholic drinks, but none better than a huge glass of sweet-sweet-sweet tea, we drink to escape, to feel comfort, to be set free from trouble. The problem with that is He is what sets us free from everything, He left the comforter when He died, rose and ascended to Heaven. He can’t make me strong through His strength, when I don’t choose to accept His strength. I can’t operate at a spirit filled level, when my fleshly body is filled with a worldly substitute for His love, grace and joy.
This verse,”He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.” is powerful! The angel is giving a directive, to do this: 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”, he couldn’t be filled with wine.
I don’t think he only meant wine, at that time, that was the main distraction, aside from sex- which I am sorry to say, seems a given. It means anything that you value more than God. It means anytime I turn to a fellow human being, even a Godly one, when God wants me to turn to Him. This is my greatest area of struggle, I want the situation solved NOW, and I want feedback from someone else, leading them into sin via gossip and anger, not even rightly theirs to carry.
I do not want to be the reason someone else stumbles in their walk with the Lord, if I apply a filter of “would I do it sitting beside Jesus” , it changes so many things. Does it for you? This isn’t a condemnation message at all, but one of hope. If you keep your body free and open only for Jesus to fill it, what great things does He have planned for you???