Christmas is over, and now we set our sights on a New Year. For many, the New Year can’t get here fast enough! Many had a tough 2014, and are looking at the past year and asking, “How did things get this way? Where’s God in the middle of all this?”
My answer is this…"He is right there in the middle, and likely he caused it all."
Why? Why would His will not be for my life to be perfect?”
The answer: Because our perfect is rarely the same as God’s perfect, but He knows what He is doing and it is all for His good. How can I be so sure? Well, lets look at a part of the Christmas story to find out.
Back to the manger again? I thought we were moving past Christmas. Be patient as we look one more time part of the Christmas story. However, we are going back past the manger, even back past when the angel told Mary she was pregnant with Jesus.
Where are we going? To look at Zachariah’s story.
How many Christians stop to read about Zachariah and Elizabeth’s life with God?
We read Zachariah’s story in Luke 1-2.
Zachariah was an amazing man. He was a priest who served God in the temple. His wife was named Elizabeth. The Bible is quick to point out that Zachariah and his wife “were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly”. God loved them and was pleased with the life they lived. They desired to follow God and His will for their lives.
We read that Zachariah and Elizabeth had no children. In those days, being childless was a disgrace, and people looked at you as having sin in your life. Zachariah and his wife lived in the constant shame and disgrace that went along with being childless. Elizabeth was probably gossipped about and shunned by the women in her town. They knew they were often the topic of many an Israeli dinner as people discussed what they must have done wrong to be judged by God.
It was a hard life God called them to live. Still, God knew what He was doing with their lives. They just didn’t know yet.
Zachariah went through his daily routine as a priest serving God. After all, he believed this was God’s will for his life. These two people loved God and dedicated their lives to Him.
As a priest, Zachariah dreamed of the day he would enter the Holy of Holies, and offer incense to God and prayers for the people. Zachariah was at least 60 by now. The Bible doesn’t tell us how many years he had been passed over. Each time confirmed to the people that he must have sin in his life.
On this particular year in Luke 1, Zachariah’s number came up. He would have the greatest honor a priest could experience. He would enter the Holy Place! He would also give the official sermon to the people. His years of following God’s difficult path chosen for him were finally rewarded.
When the appointed day came, Zachariah went into the temple and burned incense to God. His prayer for the nations were interrupted by the appearance of an angel.
13But 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 give him the name John.
Zachariah was shocked. His son, John, was to be the great prophet who prepared the way for the coming Messiah. The years of shame and disgrace were a necessary part of God’s plan for their lives. God always intended to use Zachariah to father the Messiah’s forerunner. God knew the exact time the Messiah would come, so he had to delay the arrival of Zachariah’s child. All those years and the pain that went with them really were God’s will.
In stunned disbelief, Zachariah asked the angel how this was possible. After all, both he and Elizabeth were too old to have kids. The angel told Zachariah that because he questioned him, he would be unable to speak until the birth of the baby. From that moment on, Zachariah was mute.
Why would God do this to Zachariah? After all, this was his big day! He was supposed to give his career sermon. Now he couldn’t talk. The people already questioned where the sin was in his life. Now he was mute after being in God’s presence.
God didn’t care what the people thought of Zachariah. He had his perfect plan and perfect timing for Zachariah and Elizabeth’s life. Think about it. Elizabeth was old and through menopause. She didn’t have the normal way of knowing she was pregnant. So Zachariah’s muteness was the sign that Elizabeth was pregnant. This was all part of God’s Will and His Timing. Even though their lives appeared to others as wrong and sinful, they were in God’s perfect will and timing.
Nine months later, Zechariah and Elizabeth became proud parents to a baby boy. The years of shame and disgrace were finally over. They were vindicated before all the people who had questioned if they were really following God. However, they still appeared odd to other people.
The people didn’t want Zachariah to name his son "John." They thought it was weird. He should have been Zachariah Jr. However, Zachariah knew it was God’s perfect will to name him "John", so he did it.
Zechariah’s life is a shining beckon of hope to all who fear that the difficulties and problems they face are signs they are not in God’s will. He followed God through the shame and disgrace, and in the end, God used him to father John the Baptist. He was always in God’s will and timing.
So what can we learn from Zachariah’s life as we prepare to enter 2015? I think there are two lessons. First of all, if you are living the life of a Jesus freak and our doubting yourself, then you are probably in God’s will. Don’t allow others to condemn you or judge you. Keep following God. He never promises us an easy life as His sons. He does Promise to be with us every step we take as we follow His Will and His timing.
The next lesson is this: If you see other people who appear to be a freak or over the top with their Christianity, don’t judge them. They are probably in God’s will and perfect timing for their lives. Encourage them to continue on following God. Don’t look down on them. Remember, no one really knows what people are going through, and thinks rarely are as they seem. You never know what God will do in their lives, just like you don’t really know what He may have in store for you.
Happy New Years From Mantour Ministries!!