Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 1:57

“Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son.” – Luke 1:57

The time had finally come for Mary’s cousin Elizabeth to give birth to John.  “Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her.”  Luke 1:58.  This was a time of celebration.  She had lived beyond the age where she could have children, however, the Lord caused her to give birth to the one who would cry out in the wilderness declaring the coming of the Messiah to His ministry. “He said, “I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” John 1:23 This is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah where he said, “A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3

As was the custom regarding the law, on the eighth day, they circumcised the child.  Everyone who was visiting was thinking the child should be named Zacharias, after the father.  Another part of Jewish tradition was that the child was named when he was circumcised, and ordinarily the name of the father was given to the first-born son.  So, this made sense to everyone there.  But Elizabeth interjected, “But his mother answered and said, “No; indeed, but he shall be called John.” Luke 1:60.  This of course was the name the angel told Zacharias to give him. “But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.” Luke 1:13.

This was not the norm, thus, “And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” Luke 1:61. Again, this was important in regard to tradition.  Their reasoning was that the Jewish tribes customarily kept their families sacredly distinct, and this included family names.  They would name their children the name of an ancestor that was found in the line of the tribe, partly because of reverence for them, but also partly to avoid confusion in the genealogical tables, which for the sake of distinguishing the inheritances, were carefully preserved.  It seems that because John never appeared in the family line of Levi, they argued it was not a good name to give.

They then asked the father Zacharias what he wanted to name the child.  “And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called. And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, His name is John. And they were all astonished.” Luke 1:63. Therefore, he declared what the angel said.  Now Zacharias was unable to speak because he doubted the words of the Lord spoken through the angel. “Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years. The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” Luke 1:18-20.  However, now that he obeyed the words of God by going against tradition, he received his voice back.

Then Zacharias prophesied saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servantAs He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old— Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES, And FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US; To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant, The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS; To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins, Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”  Luke 1:68-80.

Now, he who is the forerunner of the Messiah has been born.  And he will prepare the way for the Messiah, who shall be born fairly soon.  Zacharias dropped all traditions of men to obey God.  Jesus rebuked those who followed traditions of men rather then God. “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:8. Let us not fall into this trap, just as Zacharias did not.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

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