"There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years." (AV)
Luke's flow of thought:
Luke's major emphasis:
- 1. It was "the days of Herod" as "king" of Judea.
- 2. There was a couple whose names were Zacharias and Elizabeth.
- a. They were both Levites.
- b. He was a priest in the course of Abijah.
- c. They were both righteous and old.
- d. They were childless because Elizabeth was barren.
The character of Zacharias and Elisabeth in spite of their experience.
- 1. Between the reality of the days of Herod and the character of this couple.
- 2. Between the reality of the character of this couple and their experience of the promises of God.
The Contextual Flow:
- 1. Herod means "appearing to be a hero".
- 2. Zacharias means "Yahweh [the Eternally Living One] remembers".
- 3. Elisabeth means "my EL [Exerciser of Power] has given His word".
- 4. Abijah means "Yahweh [the Eternally Living One] is my father".
- 5. The course of Abijah is the eighth of twenty-four.
- a. Genesis 17:12 -- circumcision was an eighth day event
- b. Exodus 22:30 -- the offering of the firstborn was an eighth day event
- c. Leviticus 9:1 -- the consecration of the Aaronic priesthood was 7 days and on the eighth they began their work of sacrifice
- d. 1 Samuel 17:12-14 -- David was the eighth son of Jesse
- e. Eight seems to represent both the conclusion of preparation as well as the initiation of a new beginning.
- 6. The couple were both the offspring of Levi -- he was a priest and she was of the daughters of Aaron.
- 7. Luke's concept of righteousness was very practical -- they acted out their faith in concrete ways.
- 8. AND they had no child!
There are at least two major difficulties for believers:
- 1. Luke had said that he was going to give a detailed account that would enable Theophilus to know the accuracy of the truth that he had been taught.
- 2. Beginning point for Luke: the coming of John.
- 3. The point of the record: John's coming was miraculous (echos of Isaac's birth [Sarah, Rebekah, Rachael -- all were barren at some point]).
- 4. The point of the point: God became "obvious" at this point in the flow of history by acting to fulfill His word in a way that is atypical. Man's experience of the typical tends in the direction of dismissing God just because experience is "normal".
- a. The difficulty of associating God and history.
- b. The difficulty of the appearance of divine failure to act according to the Word. [Exodus 23:26; Deuteronomy 7:14]