Reading Plan Text: Luke 1:1-25
Event(s): John the Baptist’s Birth is Announced to Zacharias
vs 5: There are 5 Herods mentioned in the Bible; this reference is to Herod the Great.
vs 8: There were literally thousands of priests available for service during these times; historians say somewhere around 20,000. They were divided into large groups and then placed on a rotation, assigned to service according to their grouping. Each division served once a week, twice a year, during the major festivals. But to have the privilege of offering incense on the golden incense altar in the temple would have been a once in a lifetime honor and most definitely a high point in the life of Zacharias.
vs 13: “your prayer is heard” As a priest offering incense in the temple, Zacharias priority would not have been his own prayer for a son. He would have no doubt carried that prayer close in his heart, but the prayer the angel is most likely referring to was what the priests would pray on behalf of the people, mainly for Israel’s salvation (cf Daniel 9:20-21). Little did Zacharias know, that God would also answer the prayer in his heart. Not just giving him a son, but one who would pave the way for the Savior. God knows the desires of our hearts before we even ask Him.
Takeaway: From the beginning, God’s heart has been to reconcile us to Himself. John’s purpose was “to turn the hearts” of men, who had grown cold and hard-hearted, back to God, preparing us to receive the gift of His Son. In order for reconciliation to occur in any relationship there has to be a turning of hearts back towards one another. The spirit and power of God draws us and enables us to do this; not just to reconcile us to Him, but also when we need to reconcile with one another. As we start this journey consider: Is there anyone whom you’ve turned your heart away from? Anyone you need to reconcile with? In prayer, ask God to give you the courage to take the next step.
Additional (optional) reading: John 1:1-18 serves as a prologue to the Gospels.