by Henry T. Vriesen
At the time when Caesar Augustus was ruler of the Roman Empire, there lived in a city of Judea, most probably in Hebron, a godly couple, named Zacharias and Elizabeth; they were descendants of Aaron, the first priest. Zacharias was a priest and had to serve in the temple at Jerusalem. They had been married many years and were getting old, yet they had no children. They had asked God for a child, but their prayer seemed to be in vain.
One day while Zacharias was ministering in the temple, having entered into the Holy Place to offer up incense on the golden altar, during which time the people, who had come to worship in the temple, stood in the outer Court and prayed, there suddenly appeared unto Zacharias an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. No doubt it was the first time that the priest had seen an angel, so he was frightened when he saw him. But the angel said, “Fear not, Zacharias; for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
And Zacharias said to the angel, “Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is well stricken in years.” The angel replied and said, “I am Gabriel, that standeth in the presence of God; I am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.” And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak to them, but he showed them by motions that he had seen a vision from God. He stayed in Jerusalem until his course of service at the temple was finished; after that he returned to his home in the hill country of Judea, about twentyfive miles south of Jerusalem. He remained speechless until the words of the angel were fulfilled.For further information on this resource, click here.