The lessons we can learn from Zacharias
Zacharias means ‘The Lord has remembered’. He was of the course of Abijah..
To properly understand what is happening in this biblical account, we have to understand the duties of the temple.
The temple, its layout, its ordinances are types. A type is a real, exalted happening in history that was divinely ordained by the omniscient God to be a prophetic picture of the good things He purposed to bring to fruition through Christ Jesus.
The altar of incense was made of acacia wood with a veneer of gold. Acacia is a beautiful hardwood that is almost indestructible by insects. The altar was thirty-six inches high and eighteen inches in both length and breadth (Exodus 37:25ff). It served as a place for the daily burning of incense, both morning and evening.
This daily exercise consisted of a priest (selected by the casting of “lots”) taking burning coals from the brazen altar of sacrifice out in the temple court, taking the coals to the altar of incense, and depositing the incense upon coals (Exodus 30:7-8). This was a one-time event in the life of the priest who was selected.
The incense consisted of an equal mixture of five spices, and any deviation from this formula was subject to severe consequences (Exodus 30:9). God commanded the priests to burn incense on the golden altar every morning and evening, the same time that the daily burnt offerings were made. The incense was to be left burning continually throughout the day and night as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. It was made of an equal part of four precious spices (stacte, onycha, galbanum and frankincense) and was considered holy.
The altar of incense, was close to the ark which was covered by the Mercy Seat, above which the precense of God was focussed.
Burning incense is a type of prayer. Zacharias no doubt petitioned the Lord for His wife Elisabeth as they would have done privately.
Now for the lessons:
- The service was a high privilege, probably the highest. It would seem that Zacharias did not appreciate it. Our service to the Lord should not become routine. No matter how ‘big or small’ our service to the Lord may seem it is a high privilege to be in His service.
- We know of the rapture as Zacharias did of the coming of the Messiah but do we still believe it or prepare for it?
- Waiting for our promise for a long time, will we doubt when it is starring us in the face? Beware of this!
- Sometimes the Lord wait long so that our final blessing will bring salvation to others, as we see here. Elisabeth got her child and the world got its Savior.
- Zacharias knew the prophecies and saw the angel Gabriel but still wanted a sign. We are no better we have the Word but we still want more to believe.
- The Lord may restrict our circumstances to allow us to ponder his ways.
- The Lord may restrict our circunstances to protect us from voicing and negating our promise.