Luke begins the story: THERE was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. (Luke 1:5). Zacharias was a member of the "Abijah" division (1 Chronicles 24:10), of the Temple service corps. His wife Elizabeth, like him, was also a member of the priest tribe of the Jews. (She was a Levite, the daughter of Aaron). There were twenty-four courses of the Levite priests to perform. (Each course was performed twice a year, plus all the courses were performed on the Holy Seasons; Passover, Pentecost, and Feast of Tabernacles, giving us the 51 weeks of the Jewish calendar). Every Sabbath day, the privilege was for one of the Levite priests to burn incense and lead the morning and evening service. Since there were so many priests at the time, this was done by drawing lots to see who served. (The priests served together on the three Holy Seasons). The course of "Abia" was one of the twenty four courses; The "eighth" course being (new beginnings). This course of "Abia" sets a date that we need to remember. The two yearly "ministrations" of Abiah were as follows. The first ministration was from 12-18 Chisleu which is December 6th-12th. The second "ministration" was from 12th-18th Sivan, which is June 13th-19th. You can read more on the Course of Abia - appendix 179. (In the King James Companion Bible).
Now with that being said, we will continue in Luke. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. (Luke 1:6). Zacharias and Elizabeth were godly folk, careful to obey all of God's laws in spirit as well as in letter. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. (Luke 1:7). To old to have children. And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course. (Luke 1:8). This would be the course of Abia, the eighth course of the second ministration. (Sivan - June 13th-19th).
According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. (Luke 1:9). The honor fell to Zacharias by lot to enter the inner sanctuary and burn incense before the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. (Luke 1:10). They stood outside in the temple court, praying during the service when the incense were being burned. There prayers "Up in smoke." And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. (Luke 1:11). Zacharias was in the sanctuary when an angel of the Lord appeared. "The angel Gabriel," (man of God). And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. (Luke 1:12). Zacharias was startled and terrified. (I think we all would be a little terrified).
But the angel said unto
him, Fear not, Zacharias: for
thy prayer is heard; and thy
wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a
son, and thou shalt call his
name John. (Luke 1:13).
The angel tells Zacharias he is
going to have a son, and to call
(Gift of God). And thou shalt have joy
and gladness; and many shall
rejoice at his birth. (Luke
1:14). He would be a
special child among the people. For he shall be great in
the sight of the Lord, and shall
drink neither wine nor strong
drink; and he shall be filled
with the Holy Ghost, even from
his mother's womb. (Luke 1:15).
child in the eyes of the Lord,
filled with the "Holy Spirit"
even before birth. (Matthew
He would become a servant of the Lord. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. (Luke 1:16). John's message would be "repent and be baptized." And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1:17). John will be a rugged man that will come in the spirit and power of Elijah, the prophet of old. He will precede the coming of the Messiah, preparing the people for His arrival. (Matthew 11:14, Mark 9:12, Isaiah 40:3). However, the people did not receive him! Now, back to the prophecy of John's birth.
Here we will see a little doubt on Zacharias part. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. (Luke 1:18). This is impossible Zacharias replies! My wife and I are both to old to have a child. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. (Luke 1:19). Gabriel replies; "God himself sent me to give you this good news." (Never doubt an angel of God)! And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. (Luke 1:20). Because you do not believe me, you shall be stricken silent, until the child is born. "The Messiah was foretold to Daniel by the angel Gabriel 400 years before he told Zacharias." (Daniel 9:21-27). It was going to come to pass.
And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. (Luke 1:21). And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. (Luke 1:22). When Zacharias finally came out, he could not say a word and the people realized that he must of seen a vision. And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. (Luke 1:23). After Zacharias completed his duties at the temple he returned home. He left for home on June 19th. (The thirty mile journey took about 2-3 days travel time for an old man).
Now we come to John's conception. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying. (Luke 1:24). Elizabeth became pregnant. (This would be around June 23rd or 24th, when the miraculous conception of John the Baptist took place). She went into seclusion for five months which would bring us up to the date of November 24th. (Stay with me here). And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth. (Luke 1:26). One month later, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee. (This would bring the date up to December 25th). The date many think that Christ was born. But wait... Now we are going to switch to Joseph and Marry.
To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. (Luke 1:27). The virgin Mary, a descendant of king David, was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:18). And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. (Luke 1:28). Now the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and congratulated her saying; "The Lord is with you." And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. (Luke 1:29). Mary being a little confused tried to think of what the angel meant. But, she did not doubt the angel. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. (Luke 1:30). The angel told her not to fear not; for the Lord has decided to wonderfully bless you. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. (Luke 1:31). The angel Gabriel told her that very soon she would become pregnant and have a baby boy, and she was to name Him Jesus, "Yahshua." (Galatians 4:4). The angel Gabriel continues in his prophecy.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. (Luke 1:32). He shall be great and be called the "Son of God." The Lord shall give Him His rightful throne of David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:33). No end to His kingdom; it is for eternity. (Daniel 7:14, Hebrews 1:8). Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? (Luke 1:34). Keep in mind, Mary never had sex with a man and was still a virgin. (She was a little confused, but never lost faith). And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35). The Holy Spirit shall come upon you and you will conceive." The baby born to you will be "The Son of God." "Immanuel, God with us." (Isaiah 7:14). The angel continues...
And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. (Luke 1:36). Elizabeth was pregnant with the child John now for six months, and the date was December 25th. Elisabeth was Mary's cousin (a Levite), of the Levitical priesthood. Elizabeth's mother and Mary's mother were sisters. Mary's mother was of the tribe of Levi, and her father was of the tribe of Judah. (Here we have both the Levitical priest line and the Tribe of Judah king line). Mary's genealogy is found in (Luke 3:23 & Luke 3:31). "Christ would be the priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." (Hebrews 7). For with God nothing shall be impossible. (Luke 1:37). Every promise from God shall come true. Nothing is impossible with God! Now we return to Marry.
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38). Mary accepted what the angel Gabriel told her. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda. (Luke 1:39). Mary hurried to the highlands of Judea where Zacharias lived. And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. (Luke 1:40). She went to visit her cousin Elizabeth in the house of Zacharias to share the good news. (Zacharias was of the Levitical priesthood). Lets see what "identifying awesome event" happened when Mary and Elisabeth hooked up.
And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. (Luke 1:41). As soon as the sound of Mary's greeting, Elizabeth's child (John the Baptist), leaped within her and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. Why? Because this is when Jesus began to dwell with us, at the conception. (December the 25th)! Now as you know, many call this date the birth of Christ, and some even call this date a pagan holiday that should not be worshipped. However, both are not accurate. This is the "great conception" that took place on this date when Jesus Christ began to dwell with us. December the 25th is a glorious holiday that should be celebrated around the world. Nine months later, Christ would be born on September 29th in the year of our Lord (A.D.1). Now lets get back to Elizabeth and Mary.
And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. (Luke 1:42) Elizabeth gave a glad cry out to Mary, "You are favored by God above all other woman," your child is destined for God's mightiest praise. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (Luke 1:43). What an honor Elizabeth said; that the mother of my Lord visits me! "Emmanuel, God with us." For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. (Luke 1:44). When you came in and greeted me, the instant I heard your voice, "my baby moved in me for joy!" Moved by the very presence of the "Holy Spirit" and the Christ child. Again, life begins at the conception and when the soul enters the child.
And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. (Luke 1:45) Elizabeth said to Mary. "You believed that God would do what He said; that is why He has given you this wonderful blessing." Mary had faith to believe in what God had said, even though it would seem impossible. (Nothing is impossible with God). And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord. (Luke 1:46). Mary replied; "How I praise the Lord for what He has done." And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. How I rejoice in God my Savior! "Mary was very happy." She would give birth to the Savior of the world!
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. (Luke 1:48). God took notice of His lowly servant girl, and now generation after generation shall call me blessed of God. And blessed she was; ending that lineage all the way back to mother Eve. The mother of all living! (Genesis 3:20). Eve was not the actual mother of all living; but rather the mother of all living because through her lineage, generation after generation, the birth of Christ would come. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. (Luke 1:49). "The Most High God." And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. (Luke 1:50). God's mercy goes from generation to generation to all that reverence Him. (Genesis 17:7, Psalms 103:17). He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. (Luke 1:51). He scatters the proud and haughty ones by the power in His mighty arms. (Psalms 33:10, I Peter 5:5).
He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. (Luke 1:52). He has torn princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly. (Job 5:11-15). He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. (Luke 1:53). He satisfies the hungry hearts (filling them with truth), and sends the rich away with empty hands. (Psalms 34:10). He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy. (Luke 1:54). He helped His servant Israel and has not forgotten His promise to be merciful. (Psalms 98:3). As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. (Luke 1:55). His promise to Abram, who's name was changed to Abraham. (Genesis 17:5), and to his seed forever. (Genesis 17:19). Now Marry is going to hang with Elizabeth for a while and we are going to come up with another important date.
And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house. (Luke 1:56) Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her own home. (Three months later would bring us up to around March 25th). Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. (Luke 1:57). Elizabeth's waiting was over and her baby boy was born. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. (Luke 1:58). The news spread quickly and everyone rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. (Luke 1:59). When the baby became eight days old the circumcision ceremony took place as according to the law and custom. (Genesis 17:12, Leviticus 12:3). Everyone assumed the baby would be called Zacharias, after his father. But, God had other plans.
And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. (Luke 1:60). Elizabeth said, "No! He must be named John!" She obeyed the Lord. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. (Luke 1:61). There is no one in the family by that name they exclaimed. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. (Luke 1:62). They asked the father of the child about what his name would be. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. (Luke 1:63). Zacharias writes the name down; "It was John." They were all surprised. Here comes another surprise for Zacharias. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. (Luke 1:64). Instantly Zacharias could speak again, and he began to praise God. (His speech was returned because he obeyed God). Never doubt God!
And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. (Luke 1:65). Reverence came about the whole neighborhood and the news of what happened spread through the Judean hills. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him. (Luke 1:66). They all wondered what this child would turn out to be like. They knew that the hand of the Lord was surely upon him. And so it was; that John the Baptist (second cousin to Jesus), would go forth and preach straight on with the truth of God's Word.
And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying. (Luke 1:67). Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people. (Luke 1:68). "Praise the Lord," the God of Israel; He has come to visit and redeem His people. And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David. (Luke 1:69). He is sending us a "Mighty Savior" from the royal line of His servant David. As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began. (Luke 1:70). Just as He promised through His holy prophets from long ago.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways. (Luke 1:76). John the Baptist was a prophet of the living God, to prepare the way for the Messiah. (Isaiah 40:3, Malachi 3:1). His message... To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins. (Luke 1:77). This little child who grew to a great prophet of God. His message would be "Repent and be Baptized," "Love the Lord Jesus Christ."
Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us. (Luke 1:78). The Day Spring = The Branch = Christ. (Jeremiah 23:5, Zechariah 3:8). "To be ready for the coming of the Lord." To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:79). To give light or peace of mind to those who sit in darkness. (Isaiah 9:2). And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel. (Luke 1:80). The little child "John" grew strong in the Spirit and loved God. He lived out in the wilderness until he began his ministry to Israel. Now we are going to switch to chapter two in the book of Luke.