“And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple. But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless. So it was, as soon the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”
In Bible times, the priest chosen by lot to offer incense before the golden altar would normally be in the Holy Place for just a short while. He would seek to get out as quickly as possible, grateful to be alive because of the general Old Testament belief that they would drop dead if there was any sin in their hearts. People started getting concerned when Zecharias did not emerge from the Holy Place in a hurry. He had gone in there to fulfill his duty, but when he met with the reality of heaven, he stayed. (Time loses its meaning when we encounter Eternity!) What had begun as a ritual had turned into an encounter and a visitation. He lingered in the presence of God, as he spoke with the angel Gabriel and heard the news he had longed to hear for many years, that he would soon be a father! Zecharias found his breakthrough in the place of worship! Friend, you may be going through a difficult situation, or feeling bad that God has not answered your prayers. Try the place of praise! Zecharias probably did not feel like worshipping that day, but he went into the Holy Place with the fragrant incense, and it was a day he would never forget. It became a day of life transformation. He simply offered up praise to God for who He is: the almighty, everlasting, omnipotent One, the creator God whose Word is always true and never returns void. God is God, and worthy of all our worship, praise and adoration. His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!
The crowd outside were glad to see him when he emerged alive, but realized when they saw he could not speak that something dramatic had happened in the temple. The angel had rendered him speechless until the birth of the baby, but you and I may also have been speechless if we just had an unexpected visitation from the angel Gabriel! Some heavenly revelations are so profound that they cannot possibly be explained in words, which is why Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:4 about being caught up into heaven and hearing ‘inexpressible” words which could not be uttered. God has glorious revelations which He is waiting for us to tap into, and these are accessible through the doorway of worship and praise. Zecharias’ time of worshipping in the Holy Place took him to higher ground and a fresh revelation of the goodness of Abba God. His faith came alive, as he completed his week of duty in the temple and then travelled home to be with his wife. God’s Word was fulfilled when Elizabeth became pregnant and they knew their prayers had been answered.
Elizabeth stayed out of sight for the first months of her pregnancy, as was customary in the culture and time. When she began to mingle with the community again, people noticed the difference in her appearance, and that she was expecting a child. They knew this was a miracle and that they were seeing it before their eyes! May the same be true for you as you believe for God to move in your life and situation. Elizabeth probably never felt any different when she first got pregnant, but she believed the Word of God to Zecharias. Then, as the weeks went by, she felt it and saw it, and knew without any doubt that God was fulfilling her longing to be a mother. As you stand on God’s Word and praise Him for what He has begun to do, know that things are happening in the invisible realm, and that your miracle is being conceived, and is developing, until you will see it undeniably and materially before you. Hallelujah!
Elizabeth rejoiced in the goodness of God, and the fact that they were to be the parents of the fore runner of the long awaited Messiah of Israel. God had far exceeded their expectations! Not only had He blessed them with a baby in their old age, but he was also a very special child, and Elizabeth rejoiced that God had vindicated her in the eyes of society. She said “He looked on me to take away my reproach among people”. For many years, Elizabeth had suffered what her culture saw as the shame of barrenness. In the modern context, we may not be able to understand the extreme stigma she probably had to bear as years went by and she did not conceive a child. Barrenness was an acceptable reason for divorce in those days, and Zecharias could have divorced her and married some younger lady to father a child. However, despite the pressure he may have had from his peers, he stayed with Elizabeth, and they both continued to do the best thing they could have done – they prayed and waited on Almighty God. He also probably did what every Godly man is expected to do – he prayed for his wife to be blessed.
God wants to do the same for you today, dear friend. You may have been feeling that people were judging you because of the situation you are in, and questioning your standing before God but the Lord is your vindicator! Perhaps you have been putting yourself down, believing that you did not see an answer to your prayers because God was displeased with you. Know that God loves you and wants to bless you, and take you to higher ground in Him. If there is a hindrance, it is not because God blocked your miracle. You could ask the precious Holy Spirit to show you if there is anything that stands between you and your miracle, between you and God, and to remove it. He will – He wants your miracle for you as much as you want it for yourself, because He wants to see you grow in faith and climb to ever higher levels of revelation!
May you be inspired to keep dreaming a big dream, and keep praying for its fulfillment. Nothing is impossible with God, and if He gave you the dream, He will give you the fulfillment of it! May you (like Elizabeth) become so pregnant with the purposes and promises of God that people will see it bursting out of your life! Your healing, deliverance, reconciliation is here! Your miracle is on its way, because nothing is impossible with God!
Minoli Haththotuwa, 11 July 2011