We will be having a RECAP of the book of Luke carefully from chapter 1:5-7 proceeding from where we stopped on our last study, because we have come to know Luke as one of the four Gospels recording the life and work of our Lord Jesus, is sometimes referred to as the Book written for the Gentiles and, to artisans, physicians and all manner of ordinary men traversing the social strata of life. It has been shown to contain more empirical facts relating to events, places, and time of that period than the other writings.
Luke really search to know things before reporting, he did not claim to have eyewitness account of the events he wrote but could claim perfect understanding because he had diligently and thoroughly searched out, corroborated all his facts, understood and believed them to be true personally and so could then write them to Theophilus and by extension all of us. Luke the most thorough in facts, descriptions of events and places of all the four gospels
Each one of us can be the same witness of the New Testament truth. All we need are two primary qualifications which are,
a) to apply the same diligence to search out for ourselves the truth or words contained in the Bible, understand and believe them, and
b), to be servants or ministers of the same words we have read. We also saw how being a preacher or teacher of the word does not make us servants of it. We also saw how the Samaritan villagers to whom the woman at the well told of Jesus and the Berean Christians believed more because they heard Jesus themselves and also searched the scriptures Paul referred to on their own.
We ended with the reasons why we need to search the scriptures for ourselves and concluded that it makes us to become fully persuaded of what we initially believe. This in turn helps us share our faith with others more confidently being able to give an answer as to why we believe what we do. It also guards us from deception that may come even from other believers as in the case of the old prophet who deceived the young prophet in 1Kings 13 which we concluded with.
Having laid down the requisite qualifications for all of us who today will seek to be declarers of God’s precious and holy words, Luke now proceeds to tell us the story of our redemption beginning at the forerunner, John the Baptist.
V5 – There was in the days of Herod… Names are significant in the Bible and among many nations of the earth as they tend to indicate the nature, character or attitude of the person, place or thing named. So, we will examine the names that the Lord by His Spirit has caused to be specifically recorded in this verse.
Herod – the Strongs’ Exhaustive Concordance tells us it means ‘a hero or heroic’. He was king of Judea at this time when the things that pertain to the first coming of the Lord Jesus was to be manifested and as we proceed and follow closely, we will see a parallel to these times when the second coming of our Lord is to be manifested.
Judea – simply means Judean land or land belonging to Judah in the Greek. However, it is from the Hebrew word Judah which means ‘Celebrated‘. It derives from a primitive root word which also means to revere, worship (with extended hands).
Zecharias – A name of Hebrew origin meaning, ‘God has remembered‘. He was a Priest, minister of God who served in the course of or belonged to the class of Abia in the temple duties.
Abia – A derivative of the Jewish name, Abijah meaning ‘Father that is worshipper of Jah’.
Aaron – is of uncertain derivation but we know him to be the brother of Moses and called to be the High Priest of God in the O.T. So, we can safely deduce that his mention is to indicate the high priestly lineage to which Elisabeth, Zecharias’ wife belonged.
Elisabeth – Also a name of Hebrew origin first belonging to Aaron’s wife, it means ‘God of oath or of (the) oath’.
Now when we consider the picture painted by this verse at the time of the Lord Jesus’s first coming, we see that at the time He was to be born, there was a type of king reigning in Israel, Though the nation was literally under Roman captivity, yet Rome (which means ‘strength’ literally) allowed Israel to have a king. This king, Herod, was willingly subject to the limits placed on it by Rome.
He was a hero of some sort, allowed to display some kind of heroic but illusory independence. He was considered, revered, and celebrated as a hero by the undiscerning people of Israel who were given a false sense of liberty by the mere fact they had this ‘king’.
However, during this debauchery breeding illusion of liberty among the many, there were some Israelites among whom were priests and ordinary men and women like Zecharias, Elisabeth, Simeon, Anna described as a prophetess, Joseph, Mary (to mention a few) who walked with God in righteousness and were without blame.
Of some from this company, it is reported that the Holy Ghost was not only upon them, but that He spoke to and led them – Luke 2:26-27 & 36-38. These also served God not for what they could get from Him, but for who He was to them. For this cause, some like Elisabeth had their names changed by men who mocked them to what their natural situation seemed to portray like ‘barren’ – Luke 1:36.
Yet these continued serving the Lord without blame. They did not suppose or equate gain of any kind to be godliness but rather that they be aligned instead to the purpose of God for their lives as being worth more than life itself. Therefore, they were willing to bear the reproach of men.
These like their nature or name indicated, had covenanted their lives by sacrifice or an oath to God, remembering that they were called to worship and revere a God who deserved their worship and reverence. They wavered not at the call of God on their lives no matter the lack or seeming unattainment of personal desires but trusted the character of God’s faithfulness to His promise and covenant. They were so given to fulfilling God’s own demands on their lives that when the Lord showed up to grant them their own deep but now set aside desires, they were initially unable to comprehend or grasp His visitation and faithfulness in remembering to reward them.
To them it was not then written as it is to us in these times, that God is not unrighteous to forget our work and labour of love which we show toward His name…(Hebs 6:10), yet they committed their lives fully to Him. It was in such an environment of stark contrast in the character of His people, natural Israel that the Lord Jesus was birthed in His first advent. It is our profound belief that the same environment prevails today heralding the imminence of His return a second time to us who look for His appearing.
Question To CONSIDER:
How can we relate this scenario as brought out by the above verses to today’s spiritual Israel, the Church of the Lord Jesus?
The parallel today is the picture of a Church, the spiritual Israel of God, captivated by strength, even the strength of man. At that time, natural Israel was in captivity to a literal Rome meaning strength. Today, the spiritual Israel of God, the Church, has come under the captivity of human ways, strength, designs, patterns, and the arm of flesh forgetting that by strength shall no man prevail nor he take pleasure in the legs of man – 1 Samuel 2:9 & Psalm 147:10.
In the arena of the captivity or rule of this human strength, her Herods or heroes reign as kings, titled by acronyms such as Pastors, Bishops Apostles and more. The reign of these kings offer to most of this spiritual Israel, an illusory sense of divine liberty captured by the allure of spine tingling and goose bumps inducing warmth of miracles true or induced for these forget that it is only by the fruit that true servants are discerned.
Just as Herod basked in his courts to the praise of most of natural Israel in the first coming, so is the Church seduced to revere and worship her new kings who suppose gain to be godliness and equate the attainment of personal desires as the one true measure of the worship of an all-powerful God who holds with Him the prerogative of justice and mercy. The kings just like Herod advertise their grandeur, celebrate their achievements magnify their importance and successes patterned after methods borrowed from the carts of Philistine or the present world systems.
They fail to realise that these carts they have copied from or wheels they have invented to propagate the Lord God’s word must of necessity come to the threshing floor of His measure by which all things divine are judged even as David’s well-intentioned cart arrived at Ornan’s threshing floor. Many of such kings who have become familiar and presumptuous with the things and ways of God and have taught God’s children who follow them such ways making them end up in this misunderstood liberty and purported independence which takes grace as an occasion to continue in iniquity without restraint, will surely be struck dead in this place as Uzza (strength) was.
Yet in all this illusion, as there was a remnant who loved and worshipped the one true God despite their circumstance in the days of Zecharias and Elisabeth, so also in these times and within His Church, there are those who follow the Lamb withersoever He leads. His call on their lives is the reason they live, they are worshippers and focus only the course charted for them by His Holy Spirt. They do not serve Him for what He gives them but for who He is. In the face of seeming denial of deep desires, they abide true to Him and His demands on their lives choosing the path, ”though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him: but I will maintain mine own ways before Him” – Job 13:15.
These are termed barren, unfruitful, little flocks of believers or congregations that do not seem to grow, etc. Such terms have become synonymous with their names among their brethren and abroad. However, they are not moved but wait on their Master and Lord blameless.
These know that it is the word of the testimony of their lives reflecting the Lord’s witness in conjunction with His Blood that positions them with courage to stare death and lack in all forms to the face so they can obtain and be comforted with the joy of His appearing a second time. They know without doubt that their Lord will remember His promise and perform every oath He has made to them and will present them blameless before His presence.
V6 – This verse further reveals to us that they were both:
(a) Righteous – equitable in character BEFORE GOD. It was what God considered righteous that they did or walked in and not what man thought to be so. It does not matter how right men think we are, if our character and acts do not line up as right BEFORE God, then it is not righteousness.
(b) They WALKED in ALL the commandments and ordinances of God BLAMELESS. The key words here are ‘Walked in’ and ‘Blameless’.
When we walk in something, we traverse or travel the length and breadth of it. It then becomes not only the environment in which we live or exist, it also becomes a marker for our lives, that is, it follows and identifies us for at least sometime even after we have departed from it.
E.g. In Nigeria, where we are sometimes forced to transport fuel or petrol in our cars, we find that the entire atmosphere in the car and our clothes, become subsumed in the odour of the fuel. Even when we leave the environment of the fuel, everyone who comes across us for some time to come thereafter, knows we have been with or in contact with fuel. So, to walk in, is to be with and in the presence of something or someone.
The Pharisees knew that the disciples had been with Jesus in Acts 4:13. Though unlearned and ignorant men, the disciples through their walking and being with Jesus, had acquired his characteristic boldness, power, and wisdom. These traits had rubbed off on them so much that others recognised it though they were unaware of it.
Like the light that shone from Moses’ face when he had been with the Lord on the mount which the children of Israel saw but he Moses was not aware of, that is what a ‘walking in’ does to the one who walks in or lives with the commandments of God. ‘Let your light so shine before men that they may see your works and glorify your Father who is in heaven’ – Mathew 5:16. Therefore, we see that Zecharias and Elisabeth were living in and traversing the presence of all of God’s commandments and in so doing, became blameless, irreproachable, and faultless. To be faultless presupposes the occurrence of an event for which blame, fault or responsibility may be apportioned but on every such occasion, none is allocated to the one who is blameless.
So, though there was barrenness in the life of Elisabeth which caused both she and Zecharias to have no child, yet it is recorded that despite this glitch, they were without fault and that it was no fault of theirs. This also shows that sometimes when there is such a situation in our lives, it may be attributable to a fault in the lives of the persons facing that situation. Ps 66:18 – ‘If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me’. Zecharias and Elisabeth had no fault or avenue of iniquity through which such lack should have been foisted on them yet they remained true, continuing in ALL the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
V7 – This verse shows us who was medically or naturally responsible for this lack of a child in both their lives, Elisabeth. However, it goes on to tell us that Zecharias held unto and walked with her till they were both well stricken in years. In the Church today, divorce has become an increasing fixture even among the ministers and all manner of explanations have emerged in the guise of teachings to soothe this tragedy. Barrenness either of the womb or finance or education or any desire of man’s heart or its delay is now an excuse for ending the walk of two before the Lord. For many forget that God is not slack concerning His promises as some men count slackness – 2 Peter 2:9
Some men will count that a woman who has past her Chronos calendar is incapable of bearing children but those who see with the eye of God’s Spirit know that He is not slack concerning His promises as time itself proceeds from Him. How then are we counting? Do we count as God does and from His perspective of faithfulness to His promises and oath or do we count as men do?
How far are we willing to go with the Lord in the face of a seeming denial to our deepest longing or desire? Is the Lord’s report of us as being just and blameless before Him worth the pain of denial?
Further study – Hebrews 11
Let us reflect on these thoughts towards the next time of study together.
God bless you you.