Zechariah was the father of John the Baptist. In Luke 1:5-12 we see him presented as a godly, God-sensitive man. He is:
- Of Godly Character: It is recorded of him, and his wife Elizabeth, that they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord (Luke 1:6). Righteous very likely refers to their justified state on account of their faith. And they lived out their faith in full obedience to God’s commandment and statutes.
- Enduring Difficulty. His wife could not have children and therefore they had never had the joy of bringing forward a new generation to serve the Lord. Childlessness was culturally shameful as well and spoke of curse. The Word says that Elizabeth was the cause of their childless state (see v7). But Zechariah would not give her up for another. He was faithful to his commitment.
- Faithful He continued his ministerial call to be a priest in spite of the pain of having no children. Faith prevailed over his problems.
- God-sensitive. In v9-10 we see how Zechariah was granted the great privilege of presenting the incense offering in the temple. This was the high-point of his career. This could only ever happen once in a priest’s career and now he was undertaking it. Yet at that moment he was diverted by the intervention of God in the appearance of the angel. The remarkable thing is that Zechariah gave up his religious service to acknowledge that God had come. We observe how Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him (Luke 1:12). Experiencing the awareness of God was more significant than the high-point of his religious service. I fear many of us, and our churches, are more concerned with religious performance over and against a living awareness of the living God.
Pulling all this together here we find a man who was godly, persevering and faithful. Such people are sensitive to the workings of God. I wonder, and this is only speculation, if on previous occasions angelic messengers had appeared to an incense offering priest, but they had ignored such because of the thrill of religious service.
How easy it is for this to happen with us. Are we spiritually sensitive to discern the difference between keeping religious activities going, important as that might be in a church, and the Lord appearing among us?
Ultimately it is only those who are godly, persevering through difficulty and faithful in service that have the spiritual antennae to spot when God is coming through His Spirit. Oh that I might be of such a character.