Luke 1:57

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.

Luke 1:41

Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 1:41

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” – Luke 1:41

After her visit from Gabriel, Mary prepared herself to visit Elizabeth who lived in the hill county of Judea. “Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.” Luke 1:39-40.  She was anxious to visit her relative in order to see what the Lord has done for her.  Gabriel told her that Elizabeth would conceive a son in her old age. “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.” Luke 1:36. In fact, as noted in the verse 36, she has been pregnant for the last six months.  What an opportunity to see the hand of God working in Elizabeth’s life, which could well give evidence that what the angel said is true for her as well.

When Elizabeth heard Mary, a couple amazing things happened.  “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Luke 1:41.  First, the baby within her leaped in her womb.  This baby, who would be named John, responded to the fact that the Messiah, who was now in the womb of Mary, was nearby.  This, I believe, was on account of the second event, which was the infilling of Elizabeth by the Holy Spirit.  However, it was not just Elizabeth who was filled by the Holy Spirit.  Back when Zechariah, a priest in Israel, was performing his priestly duties, he was visited by an angel who prophesied saying, “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. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” Luke 1:14. And now the next verse.  “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.” Luke 1:15. Not only was Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit, so was John, and this was why he leaped in the womb.

Then Elizabeth, after being filled by the Spirit. Prophesies over Mary.  “And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”  Luke 1:42. She declares that Mary is blessed of the Lord, and the baby in her as well. Then she reveals something that only God could have told her.  “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” Luke 1:43-45.  She was not there when the angle talked to her, and there was no way Mary could have sent a message to her this quickly.  For she knew that the Lord had told Mary she would give birth to the Messiah.

Then Mary spoke out in praise and gave glory to God.  “And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bond slave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones and has exalted those who were humble. HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever.” Luke 1:46-55.  What a great declaration of the mighty and great works done by God.  Mary, after all this, remained with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. What is worth noting here is that God not only told Mary, and previously to Zechariah and Elizabeth, what was going to happen, but He also gave them evidence of what He declared.  And God will do the same for us when required.  He did this via the first meeting between John the Baptist and the Messiah, when both were in their respective wombs.  God always make clear to all what He is going to do, and what He has already done in the lives of His people.  It is up to us to accept and believe what He tells us.

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

Luke 1:13

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 1:13 

“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 

Up to Christmas day, I will be looking at the different prophesies which foresee the coming of the promised Messiah, Jesus the Christ.  He came here in order to offer the means of salvation for all.  An important idea to remember is that God knows everything and forgets nothing.  “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” Isaiah 46:9-10.

This verse is an important one, for it foretells the coming of John the Baptist: the forerunner of the Messiah.  “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.” Luke 1:5.  This speaks of a priest named Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth.  They were both righteous before God, however up to this time they were unable to have children.  And now being advanced in years, it was not probable they ever would.

Now while Zacharias was performing his priestly functions, an amazing thing happened. “And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear gripped him.” Luke 1:11-12. It is probable that the angel appeared while his eyes were closed, but when he did see him, he became afraid.  The angel who appeared to Zacharias was not simply like a man with wings. This angel was a glorious, fearful, and an awesome creature, and like most angels in the Bible, the first thing this angel had to say to his human contact was “Do not be afraid.”

Then the angel tells Zacharias in our focus verse.  “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.  The angel told them they would have a child.  And they were told they were to name him John. And according to Thayer’s Hebrew dictionary, his name means “Jehovah is a gracious giver”. Then Gabriel went on to say, “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:14-17.

Zacharias and Elizabeth had their prayer answered.  In their old age, they shall have a son.  Their son would be seen as great in God’s sight.  He will probably live under the Nazirite vow due to not drinking wine or strong drink.  He also would be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb.  This has the idea that he was appointed to and set apart to the work God called him to before he was born.  We see the same with the prophet Jeremiah.  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5. And even more so, of Jesus.  “Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. Upon Thee I was cast from birth; Thou hast been my God from my mother’s womb.” Psalm 22:9-10.

And finally, we see what his calling was in the gospel of Mark.  “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER BEFORE YOUR FACE, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY; THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT. John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Mark 1:2-8. John came into this world to prepare the way of the Messiah and to inform Israel of His coming, calling them to repent and be baptized in reference to the remission of sin.  Repentance prepared the soul for it, and Baptism was the type or pledge of it.   

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