Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Prophet of the Most High

She was old, well passed child-bearing age. She and her husband, Zacharias, lived childless, just enjoying each other. But they did pray for children. They were righteous in God's sight, walking blamelessly (Luke 1:6). What makes them so important to this time of year?

Zacharias was a priest who served in the temple. It was his turn. While he has in there, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him that his wife, Elizabeth, was going to have a child. This child was to be named John. He would never drink liquor and would be filled with the Holy Spirit before being born. He will be one to turn many of the children of Israel back to God.

Zacharias, standing there in the temple, did what I would have done. He questioned the angel. And because he did this, the angel took his speech away. I think I could live without speaking. Contrary to popular belief, I do not need to speak all the time; especially if I have a computer, paper, pen, and a phone for texting. With my father's illness, and his loss of speaking for a while, I now understand that yes, it is nice to hear his voice, but having him here to hug and just sit with is enough. Though, I do have a confession to make. I do have him singing "Happy Birthday" to me on my voicemail. So for nine months, Elizabeth didn't hear her husband so much as whisper.

Another part of this story that just hit me was that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even while he was in the womb. I never paid attention to that part of the verse. This is why he leapt in his mother's womb when Mary came for a visit. But I am getting ahead of myself.

When Zacharias came out of the temple, everyone was sure he saw a vision. But they had no idea the vision he saw. When John was born, everyone was so excited for Elizabeth and Zacharias. They were puzzled, though, when she named him John. John isn't a family name for them. Back then, John was the odd name. In my family, we had three John Rainey's. Today, there is not really an odd name, is there? People are trying for individuality. But how many of them have God pick out the name of their child? And when they questioned Elizabeth on the name, Zacharias wrote on a tablet "His name is John." At once, his tongue loosened and he began praising God. He also prophesied about his son, because many were questioning why John was here and because they knew God had a hand in all this. Zacharias called John the prophet of the Most High.

Elizabeth, too, praised God. Her shame of childlessness was taken away with her pregnancy. It is shameful of us to feel that anyone who cannot or choses not to have children are less than others. Back then it was their legacy, but it still seems cruel to blame someone for something that probably isn't their fault.

It seems odd to talk about someone other than Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, but Elizabeth, Zacharias and John were a very important part of this story. Read Luke 1:5 - 25 and 57 - 80 for the whole story of John, who became John the Baptist. You will see that Elizabeth and Mary wen through part of the pregnancy together.

As the song goes, "A baby changes everything."

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