Praise God for His unending love towards us in our study so far, great is His faithfulness.
Today we will be looking at LESSON 4 on the account of the book of Luke, but before that:
Let’s have a RECAP OF LESSON 3 . In lesson we considered the qualifications and duties of the Priest. We saw that no one takes this honour to himself and the Priest’s appointment lies within the absolute prerogative of the One who calls or appoints such a person to the office as was Aaron and our Lord Jesus and also ourselves.
We saw the Priest must be faithful, compassionate, and present himself holy to the Lord. His duties are to stand permanently for or on behalf of men before God as his appointment is not temporary and to make sacrifices and offerings to the Lord. We looked at the different types of prayer sacrifices or offerings in the New Testament and at the meaning of incense being synonymous with prayer, worship and praise.
We also touched upon some times or periods for prayers which we considered to be more effectual.
We continue our study of Luke 1 from verse 11. We read here that an angel appeared to Zacharias as he went into burn incense.
While in the place of worship, a messenger came to him with a message from God, an answer to his prayers. Now we know it is not recorded that he was at this time, praying for a child because he and his wife Elisabeth were now well past the age. Again, his surprise or shock at the angel’s appearance and message is enough proof to show us Zacharias did not have the thought of receiving a child in his mind. He was just savouring the privilege accorded him to burn or offer up worship to the Lord in the temple.
When we are lost in or consumed by simply the worship of and communion with the Lord, at the time appointed by Him, He appears in that place of our worship to grant us our hearts’ desires even when we have long forgotten them. Interestingly, the Bible records that the angel appeared standing on the right side of the altar of incense and seeing this specific detail led us to check what this right side signified. We found the meaning of the word in Greek to be, [‘dex-ee-os’] the right side or feminine hand (as that which usually takes). it is from another primary verb meaning to receive, (literally or figuratively), to accept, take.
We understand this to signify that the angel of the Lord had not only come to receive the sacrifice or prayers offered, but had also come to have Zacharias receive the answer to the prayers he had offered. Read Revelations 8:1-5 [we see the angel take incense along with the prayers of the saints and offer same to God] & 5:8 [we see the 24 Elders offer up to the Lamb, vials full of odours which are the prayers of saints].
The essential point is that when we come into and stand in our Priestly offices offering up our New Testament sacrifices of prayers, supplications, intercessions and thanksgiving, we must be aware that there is the attendance of angels to receive same unto God and to bring us answers that will cause thunderings and lightenings and earthquakes in our earth because we are come to a heavenly Jerusalem, where there is also, an innumerable company of angels. Hence, we are told they minister to us as heirs of this great salvation. Hebrews 12:22 & 1:4
Zacharias saw the angel. May the Lord open our eyes as He did to Elisha’s servant to see the company of angelic hosts He has given to minister to and for us so we do not fear the schemes of the devil or of men.
The angel here first calms Zacharias with the words ‘Fear not’. It has always been the Lord’s intention that we be anxious for nothing nor be in dread of anyone or circumstance.
It has been said that there are 365 instances of the phrase ‘fear not’ in the Bible, one for every day of week so we ought to take as it were, one fear not capsule per day.
However, what strikes us in this verse is the phrase, FOR THY PRAYER IS HEARD’. If we notice, the Angel uses the singular in the word PRAYER. He does not say Prayers and this brings an insight to the fact that whatever we pray for, the Lord not only files those prayers until He answers them, they are also filed under a specific heading or title.
What do we mean? If we pray for say a child as Zacharias and Elisabeth had presumably done for years, every such prayer is considered as one prayer no matter how many times and how varied the interval times of prayers were. As long as it relates to one topic or request, it would be deemed as one and filed under the specific heading or title such as ‘Baby Request’. This is why the Angel said, THY PRAYER IS HEARD. Every Prayer we offer on the subject goes up into the same file, but adds another layer or notch to it until the time for its fulfilment comes. Our prayers do not die. The Bible says God is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness…
Read and discuss 1 Peter 3:1-9
We note verse 8 in the above passage tells us that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand as one day.
It then stands to reason that none of us has not had his or her prayer answered in the Lord’s one day. This His day may be our years even as it was for Zacharias and Elizabeth and as it is with some of us today. We must, however, not lose sight of the fact that the Lord our God never fails to answer nor forgets a labour of love offered to Him.
Again, the verse under consideration, reveals to us the specificity which prayer should have so as to command a specificity in response. The Lord does not just come to answer general prayers. It is obvious Zacharias and Elisabeth had prayed specifically for a child and that is what the Lord an answer to. His response was unambiguous – ‘thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son and thou shalt call his name John’.
I will paraphrase the Lord’s answer thus – ‘thy specific prayer for a child has been heard and thy wife whom I know to be Elisabeth and not another, shall bear not just a child, but specifically, a male child and you will call this child’s name John because my favour shall be upon him’. How more specific can the Lord get?
Why did we add the last sentence about God’s favour being upon the child? It is because that is what the name ‘John’ means, Jehovah favoured.
If we remember the meanings of the names of Zacharias and Elisabeth which we had examined in our previous lessons, we will see a divine message being unfolded to us in the three names which is, the God who remembers His oath or promise is the one who takes responsibility to manifest His favour. He is the One who watches over His word to perform it and He will even if it means to call forth those things that be not as though they were.
Lesson: We must be specific in our prayers to the Lord and also learn to be request Him to be specific in His answers to us when He speaks.
For further understanding on the need to receive specific answers or instructions from the Lord, let us study some aspects of the prayer life of David in 1 Sam 30:1-8 & 2 Samuel 5:17-19;22-25 on specific answers from the Lord.
We welcome your comments as well, God bless you richly as we proceed .