BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
The Bible is full of many cases of God’s intervention in the affairs of human beings. Luke 1:5-25 records one of such cases. It was the intervention of God in the life of a couple who had been without a child for many years until they had become old – too old to have any child.
Verse 6 of chapter 1 of the book of Luke says concerning Zechariah and Elizabeth that they were righteous in God’s eyes and were careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments yet they had no child. It has been an age-long question why bad things to happen to good people.
In John 9, the disciples of Jesus were puzzled about the condition of the man born blind from his mother’s womb. Their theology was that it must have been as a result of the man’s sin or the parents’ sin. “Rabbi, his disciples asked him, why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” (John 9:2 NLT).
Is it possible for a baby to sin in the womb? Maybe the parents can but can the baby? What was the answer of Jesus? “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins, Jesus answered. This happened so the power of God could be seen in him” (John 9:3). The King James Version renders the latter part of this verse thus: “but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” The phrase “should be made manifest” is phaneroo (fan-er-o’-o) in Greek and it means “to render apparent (literally or figuratively):–appear, manifestly declare, (make) manifest (forth), shew (self)” (Strong’s Concordance). Until we get to heaven we may not know why God allowed some things to happen so we had better keep our mouths shut if God has not revealed to us the reasons.
Righteous yet barren
As at the time of the bareness of Elizabeth, there was no reasonable explanation for it, humanly speaking, because both Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes and were careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments. What else would one have expected them to do that they didn’t do? They were okay with God but things were not okay for them!
But the story changed for the couple one day. An end came to the negative experience they had been having despite their living a life of obedience to God. “One day Zachariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying. While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him” (Luke 1:8-12 NLT).
You need to know that there were twenty-four priestly courses or classes for the Temple service and each division performed the Temple duties for one week. “This is how Aaron’s descendants, the priests, were divided into groups for service. The sons of Aaron were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. But Nadab and Abihu died before their father, and they had no sons. So only Eleazar and Ithamar were left to carry on as priests. With the help of Zadok, who was a descendant of Eleazar, and of Ahimelech, who was a descendant of Ithamar, David divided Aaron’s descendants into groups according to their various duties. Eleazar’s descendants were divided into sixteen groups and Ithamar’s into eight, for there were more family leaders among the descendants of Eleazar. All tasks were assigned to the various groups by means of sacred lots so that no preference would be shown, for there were many qualified officials serving God in the sanctuary from among the descendants of both Eleazar and Ithamar. Shemaiah son of Nethanel, a Levite, acted as secretary and wrote down the names and assignments in the presence of the king, the officials, Zadok the priest, Ahimelech son of Abiathar, and the family leaders of the priests and Levites. The descendants of Eleazar and Ithamar took turns casting lots” (1 Chronicles 24:1-6, NLT).
As stated in Luke 1:5, Zechariah belonged to the priestly order of Abijah and the lot fell on him to burn incense. How fortunate he was! Why Zechariah? Why not another priest? It couldn’t have been another person. It must be Zechariah because heaven had focused on Zechariah and Elizabeth. It was neither an accident nor a coincidence. It was a divine design. It was part of the orchestrated plan of God towards the birth of Jesus Christ. Their son must be the forerunner of the Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Only one person was usually chosen by lot each day to burn incense. and Zechariah was chosen that day. But suppose Zechariah had a bad attitude of truancy? Suppose he didn’t make himself available that day for the service? Would the lot have fallen on him in absentia? No. Zechariah had a positive attitude that God could use the attitude of consistent walk with God despite his childlessness – the attitude of perseverance.
What about Elizabeth? Suppose Elizabeth was busy fighting with Zechariah that day because she was on edge as a result of her not having a child and locked the door preventing the husband from going to serve in the Temple. That is what some women in such situation do – nagging.
Incense was burnt twice in the Temple everyday. “Every morning when Aaron maintains the lamps, he must burn fragrant incense on the altar. And each evening when he lights the lamps, he must again burn incense in the Lord’s presence. This must be done from generation to generation. Do not offer any unholy incense on this altar, or any burnt offerings, grain offerings, or liquid offerings” (Exodus 30:7-9 NLT).
Zechariah’s choice happened to be a life changing experience in addition to being a momentous occasion in his career as a priest. An angel met Zachariah and ministered to his personal need. Luke 1:11 says, “While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar” (NLT). Zechariah wasn’t expecting what he saw. He was afraid and that is why the angel had to calm him down.
Divine encounters are usually unannounced. Your own may just be very close. I pray that it will come in Jesus’ name. The Lord shall surprise you with your own divine visitation in Jesus’ name. It will happen this year.
“But the angel said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John’” (Luke 1:13 NLT). God heard the prayer of Zechariah and his wife. God answers prayers though the answers may not come at your own fixed or expected time and may not come in your own preconceived form, shape or size.
“Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John,” the angel told Zechariah. The angel went further to tell him more about the child to be born, some details about his life and assignment. The angel’s message appeared to Zechariah too good to be true because they had waited for this miracle for many years and were no longer expecting any thing of such.
Don’t light your own fire
You may be in a similar situation. After a long waiting, you are no longer expecting anything from God concerning that issue. Whatever the issue is, I want you to know that your miracle will happen in Jesus’ name. NOTHING IS FINAL UNTIL GOD HAS SPOKEN! The final word is yet to be heard over that matter. God has the final say and He will speak in your favour. The Lord will do it for you this season in Jesus’ name. The Lord that visited this old couple will visit you with your own miracle. He will remove your reproach.
Job says, “I, too, have been assigned months of futility, long and weary nights of misery” (Job 7:3 NLT). There are indeed periods of seeming futility, long and wearisome nights of misery in the journey of life. We cannot escape it as children of God. You may be going through yours now. It has nothing to do with sin or not praying enough. This is the time when God seems far away from you. You fear the Lord; you obey his Word, yet your life does not seem to support the fact that you do. What do you do?
Prophet Isaiah comes to our aid here: “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God” (Isaiah 50:10 NIV).
Did you see that? What a puzzle! Why should someone fear the Lord and obey his servant yet find himself walking in the dark? What will keep a man going at this time is not any convincing proof that he is holding on to, other than the Word of God and trust in the Lord. And that is what is called faith. “Now FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things (we) do not see and the conviction of their reality (faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses” (Hebrews 11:1 The Amplified Bible).
One of the greatest temptations for a child of God at this time of walking in the dark with no light from God is to try to make light for himself. He is under pressure. He feels time is going – time for marriage, pregnancy, employment, admission, graduation, promotion, and breakthrough in business, ministry, etc. But you must avoid lighting your own fire. Prophet Isaiah warns in Isaiah 50:11: “But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment” (NIV).
Lighting fires for oneself is engaging in self help rather than waiting for the visitation of the Lord. This is what Abraham and Sarah did producing Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-15). And Ishmael has remained the problem of the world today. If you can’t wait for your Isaac (the fulfillment of God’s promise), you’ll produce Ishmael who’ll never stop smelling! And your mistake will keep laughing at your miracle when God eventually fulfils His promise. “But Sarah saw Ishmael—the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar—making fun of her son, Isaac” (Genesis 21:9 NLT).
Don’t be weary like Abraham and Sarah were that they produced their own light to walk in rather than continuing to walk in the dark they had been walking in trusting in the Lord and his promise to them. The Bible says not to get tired of doing what is good because at just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up (Galatians 6:9). The key word is not to give up. You should never give up on God despite the challenges of life you’re facing. “As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13 NLT).
Don’t quit on God
Zechariah had been a priest for many years serving and praying until he was old. But he never quit on God despite his problem of not having a child. “Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years’” (Luke 1:18). He was at his duty post. Together with his wife, he kept being obedient to the commandments of God and diligent until the time of his visitation. May you continue to be at your duty post. May you not give up before the day of your visitation. May it not be said of you that you quit yesterday when your divine visitation has been scheduled by heaven for today. May it never happen to you.
Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 says, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both” (NLT). Keep sowing prayer, keep sowing finances, keep sowing good works, etc. You don’t know how many times you would have done these before heaven will visit you. You don’t know what good work you will be doing when heaven will visit you.
God will visit you
Abraham and Sarah, as well as Zechariah and Elizabeth had passed the age of child bearing but God still visited them. Nothing is impossible for God to do. Whatever you think has disqualified you and has made you give up on your miracle cannot disqualify God from visiting you. When it appeared all hope was lost, God visited these couples in their old age.
No matter how old or young you are, the Lord shall visit you. After all God visited Mary, a young virgin, who was not expecting to be pregnant so soon! What people think you are not qualified for, the Lord will do for you.
The Bible says, “Never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT). No matter how much prayer you’ve prayed, you can pray more. Never stop praying. Have faith in God. Don’t be impatient. God has not forgotten you. Your divine visitation shall come at the right time in Jesus’ name. Don’t light fire for yourself. Wait for your divine visitation; it shall surely come!
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523