8 November 2007

Quiet Times Thoughts - Luke 1:5-25

What do you do in tough and hopeless times? Where do you find the strength to press on and even excel? And when someone gives you an unexpected break, would you question and doubt? Today's text in Lk 1:5-25 records for us Zechariah and Elizabeth's experiences in trying times.

Textual Observations (What does my eye see and my senses feel?):
‘Bad’ things can also happen to good guys. Zechariah was a ‘good guy’, both he and Elizabeth got good pedigree. They were (1) both righteous (which is very commendable) and (2) walking blamelessly (still ongoing holiness despite old age) and in (3) all the commandments & statutes (excellent! Beyond reproach.)

Zechariah & Elizabeth faced a BIG problem. They were advanced in years (age) and she was barren (infertility). They had no modern science, no precedents of old people giving birth, no help and hence little hopes. Having no children also meant little income support, and being looked down socially, being a reproach among the people.

Zechariah continued in his service to God despite personal problems. Verse 8 said that, ‘while he was serving…’

God speaks to us when we are walking with Him, serving Him. (v8).

Zechariah continued to pray in his difficulties and God heard him. (v13) He may have been troubled by his problems and prayed fervently. God knew and addressed that.

God intends for us “joy and gladness’ not ‘trouble and fear’. He will also, through our situations, bring out His plans for the nations (many will rejoice at his birth, v14).

God brings forth great descendants from faithful parents. V15 “he will be great…”

Zechariah doubted and was ‘silenced’. We can doubt even when we see an angel/God. The important thing is not to walk by sight, but according to His words, which will be ‘fulfilled in their time’. Zechariah based his judgments on human experience – he is old, its difficult for old people to reproduce. Note the corresponding judgment for doubting – struck mute for 9 mths? Gabriel’s goods news was questioned.

God does care for His people. He takes the reproach of His people away.

Reflective Enquiry (What curious questions do I have?):
How long were they childless? What social pressures did they go through?
Why did Gabriel punish Zechariah when nowadays we also doubted and got away with it?
Elizabeth conceived but hid herself for 5 mths. Why?

Divine Touch (What touches my heart?):
In difficult times, pray. When all does not seem to go your way, push on. Continue to walk in all His ways. Don’t neglect the Word. In His time, the breakthrough will come and our reproach will be taken away. My trials are nothing like Zechariah & Elizabeth. Yet, I scream and grunt as if it’s hell every day. Time to get a proper perspective of life and reality. I also need to develop more perseverance – to hang onto His laws and not to take it out on God when His people disillusion me.

While we wait and pray and grow anxious over God’s ‘non response’, but when He does respond, we doubt and question. We tend to want things our way, our timing, our style. But not so with God.

An oft forgotten fact that is clear in this passage is that there is a price to pay for doubting God’s words. Zechariah was mute for x months. While in this modern day the punishment may not come instantly, that does not mean that it is forgiven or white-washed. Don’t doubt His words.

Prayer Response (What is my prayer response?):
I pray for perspective O LORD, to see beyond difficulties and for more strength to press on in this journey. Amen.

Action Steps (What should my hands do?):
Let His words continue to speak to me daily in my scripture memory and infuse me with a fresh level of faith and holiness.

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