Day 11: THE GLORY OF THE LORD ACCORDING TO ZECHARIAH
जकरिया के अनुसार प्रभु की महिमा
Hindi | Luke 1:5–25, 57–79
But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.”
– Luke 1:13
Luke’s account of the life and ministry of Jesus is distinctive in that it does not begin with His birth or baptism. Rather, his intent seems to be to draw attention to the supernatural events that mark God’s intervention after four hundred years of prophetic silence. Thus, following a brief preamble, he begins his narrative by focusing on the supernatural circumstances of the birth of the forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist. The spotlight in these opening verses is on John’s parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, chosen by God to be included in his plan for the arrival of the Messiah.
Luke tells us that Elizabeth and Zechariah were both of priestly ancestry, “righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly,” but tragically for that era, “childless” (Luke 1:6–7). In the Ancient Near Eastern world, as in traditional societies like India even today, childlessness was seen as a curse or even as a divine punishment for sin. Elizabeth herself viewed her shame and humiliation as a “disgrace” (Luke 1:25). Most believers have experienced times in our lives when our faith comes under stress like this. We believe God’s Word is true and that He answers prayer, and we are following the Way of Christ as best as we can, yet God does not seem to come through for us.
Zechariah and Elizabeth lived with their reproach and remained faithful despite no sign of divine favour. But then came the moment of a lifetime. Zechariah was one of twenty thousand priests who served at the temple for two one–week periods each year. A priest could offer the incense at the daily sacrifice only once in his lifetime, and on this day, the lot fell on Zechariah. The people were undoubtedly praying for the hope of Israel, the Messiah, to come and usher in the kingdom of God. What about Zechariah? What could he have been praying for?
The angel’s words—“your prayer has been heard”—suggest that Zechariah may have used this once–in–a–lifetime opportunity to ask God to fulfil his lifelong, unfulfilled desire for a son. And the response came dramatically in the appearance of God’s personal messenger. The prayers of Zechariah and those of the people praying for the Messiah to come are both answered in one stroke. Zechariah and Elizabeth would have a son like no other! They would be the privileged parents of the forerunner of the Messiah. Like Zechariah and Elizabeth, Israel’s hopes of seeing divine intervention in their circumstances might have died after God’s long silence. But faithfulness has its reward. In Zechariah’s marvellous divine encounter in the temple, he saw God as the God who gives life to dead hopes.
India, a nation of 1.3 billion people, has many millions whose lives are marked by dead hopes: over two million women and children who are victims of sex trafficking, one–fourth of the world’s malnourished people, and one–third of the population living below the poverty line.
Jasmine and Samir’s story offers us a window into the “dead hopes” of India’s untold millions. After AIDS had snatched away her mother, four–year–old Jasmine’s father and elder brother abandoned her and her six–month–old baby brother, Samir, to fend for themselves on the streets of Mumbai. Some servants of Christ heard this little girl calling out to God as she rocked her little brother to sleep, having found temporary shelter in the corner of a hospital ward. They took these two abandoned children to a “Village of Hope” run by a Christian ministry that offers refuge to such children. Eighteen years later, Jasmine and Samir have grown into radiant young followers of Christ. Jasmine’s story recently made headlines in newspapers and local TV after she appeared for a competitive exam and obtained a highly–coveted medical college seat.
This Advent season, Zechariah’s vision of God’s glory reminds us that there is a living God, a God who gives life to dead hopes! Why did God wait so long to hear Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayer? Why did He wait for thousands of years to send Jesus to save the world? God’s timetable may be different from ours, but don’t stop praying. Keep your hope anchored in the faithfulness of God!
The Reverend Dr Ivan Satyavrata is a Langham Scholar and Langham–published author who taught and served as President at the Center for Global Leadership Development (formerly Southern Asia Bible College) in Bangalore, India, and was Senior Pastor of the Assembly of God Church in Kolkata, India, for sixteen years where he was recently named Pastor Emeritus. He currently serves on the boards of World Vision India, World Vision International, Global University, the Project Rescue Board of Elders, and Bombay Teen Challenge.