Herod Antipas was a heathen king. This was a king that did not honor God. In fact, Herod Antipas was an immoral individual from his upbringing. It has been recorded that his moral system would allow him to marry his brother’s wife named Herodias. This shows that he has no regard of any moral standard in his makeup. His mother was a Samaritan woman named Malthace. She was one of the wives of his father Herod, the Great. His father was a wicked king. He wanted baby Jesus to be murdered, because he saw Him as a threat. Herod Antipas was a selfish man. He was feeding off of his own flesh and feeding his flesh anything that he desired. It did not matter the cost to anyone else. All that mattered to him was what he wanted. His power was in the control of others. This was the type of Kingdom that Zacharias had to reside in. His environment was corrupt. This brings me to the second point in the text. The environment that he lived in did not honor the God that he served. For this reason, if we are not careful to give God our best; our undivided attention, we can find ourselves forgetting to spend time with God by worshipping God. The environment that he lived in was totally the opposite of what he was raised to believe in. Zacharias operated in the position as a High Priest, but his heart was someplace else.
He was raised in the only nation that had the privilege to speak to God, yet he finds himself not recognizing His presence when God appears. He was well known, therefore people came to him with their problems and he did what he could to help them. Meanwhile he wanted the Messiah to come, specifically wanting God to open up the womb of his wife and bare the Messiah. But as time passed her time to be able to bear children, he began to lose his focus and began to operate on autopilot. Serving in the capacity of his priesthood, but his heart was somewhere else. This became the problem for both of them, him and his wife. The Bible says how two can walk together unless they agree (Amos 3:3)? He and his wife were found righteous. Both Zacharias and Elizabeth wanted to be in the number for baby Jesus; they walked upright and fulfilled all the duties of Leviticus priesthood. They operated in the tradition and their mannerism was very religious, routine; a righteousness as filthy rags. Therefore it is safe to say that Zacharias began to operate out of tradition rather than his compassion for serving the Lord. His wife became weary as well when the time for child rearing days had passed for her. We know this because Elizabeth was a God fearing woman. Her name meant “oath of God”. That means she was a worshiper of God. She had stopped worshipping God, not just because it was the mandate set by the king, but also because of her unbelief. The prayers had been going on for so long without an answer or a response from God. She began to give up on believing that her prayers would ever manifest.
How does that happen? How can a Priest, a Christian, a believer begin to become numb to the Spirit of God? How can we practice something to the point that it becomes a ritual and not believe in the thing that we are doing? How do we get to a place where we are simply going through the motions? How can we spend all of our life believing in something and not recognizing the thing that we believe when it comes to pass? This is done by practicing with our mind and not believing in our hearts. When we believe in our hearts, it shows up in our actions.
To look at this text, we do not see anywhere she tried to influence him. We don't see anywhere she encouraged him in her worship, nowhere had he sought worship with her. In fact we see the both of them are silent. Nothing was coming out of their mouth. All they were doing was operating out of the traditions that they had been taught. Religion consumed them. They were operating an organization without worship. Worship is when one spirit touches another spirit. Worship is the difference between religion and God. No worship, no God. No praise, no God. God inhabits the praises of his people. Judah was enslaved, that tells me that there wasn't very much praise and worship going on. Because when we find ourselves going through in our own life, the first thing that begins to hesitate is our praise.
The text says an angel of the Lord appeared to Zacharias while he was fulfilling his duty as a priest and the text says fear fell upon him. It was because this was not ordinary. He was not expecting anyone to be there. He was not expecting God to show up. This was not protocol. Zacharias was the only one according to the Leviticus priesthood, who was allowed to go in the Holy of Holies during this time to represent the people and he could not recognize his blessing when it showed up. If he could not recognize his blessing, there is no way that he could have recognized a blessing for anyone else. He was just as lost as the people. One thing that is true is that we cannot save people in a boat that has a hole in it, if no one knows how to swim, including ourselves.
The text says trouble. The word trouble used here in the Greek is tarrasso, it means simply to agitate, to stir up, and the angel stirred up the curiosity of Zacharias. Zacharias has been going through the motions for so long until he saw the angel of the Lord and he did not recognize him. The angel told Zacharias that God had heard his prayer, not the prayers of his congregation. This was a personal visitation to Zacharias to let him know that God has heard him.
This lets us know that even through his religious practices that Zacharias was still praying. Even though he was going through the motions and his heart was not worshipping God like he should, he was still talking to God.
Zachariah still had a prayer life. We worship out of our hearts and we pray out of our minds. Prayer brings our minds into subjection with what are heart should be doing but sometimes we don't see anything. The mind starts playing tricks on us and oftentimes our prayers never reach our hearts. That is why it is critical that we have to remain focused. This is because the enemy can take our mind and lead us astray. The environment that Zacharias was in, it did not look like prayer was changing anything. His worship was gone. He was operating out of ritual. He still have enough faith / hope in God to petition God but he was so weary that he did not recognize the presence of the Lord when he saw Gabriel. Sometimes we are looking for a blessing to manifest in a specific way. Therefore we may miss it when it manifest in something that we do not expect. Such as it was in the days of Zacharias, everyone had an expectation of royalty as it pertained to the arrival of Jesus. He was not even born to a priest. But because He was birthed in a horse stable, many missed Him.
The angel continues to prophesied to him and give him instructions on how to raise the child. I don't know all that was going on with Zacharias during this time. But he was not responding as a Leviticus priesthood should. Maybe he got in his own way and he was angry that the angel was prophesying the one who would announce the Messiah. After all, Priests during that time wanted to be the chosen vessel to receive the Messiah. Think about the honor, the power, the prestige, he would encounter simply because he was chosen by God as the High of the High Priest to raise God’s only begotten Son. Maybe he was a bit narcissistic and wanted to be the priest that stood out from all the rest. If God blessed him with that opportunity to raise baby Jesus, he would be honored among all men. Maybe he secretly desired that because he wanted to set everyone else in their place, who spoke against him because he was married to a barren woman. He had no son to carry on the lineage when he was gone. I don't know all that was going on in his flesh. But I do know his flesh was blinding his vision, and he could not see that he was in the presence of God.
The prophecy that was being given to Zacharias about the child that he would raise was also concerning him. They angel stated that the hearts of the fathers would be turned toward his children. Zacharias would be turned to the child that he would raise in order to be made ready for the Lord. I do not know if Zacharias caught that or not, but I'm sure that it angered him if he did. He was a high priest. Who is qualified to come and prepare him to be ready for the Lord? He was a righteous man. He had been serving in his position, walking upright, and blameless. He was taught by the eighth course of the temple service. Surely he was prepared for the Lord.
I don't know what was going through Zacharias mind at this time. These are just some suggestions that may have been keeping him out of focus and not having the ability to recognize that he was standing in the presence of God. All I know is that when he opened his mouth, his spirit was not right. He began by questioning the Angel of the Lord in a manner that suggested that he could be lying. How will I know this? Then he begins to tell the Angel about his physical condition, the state of his flesh. He says, for I am an old man, and my wife is well stricken in years. This is as if to say, it's too late. This upsets the Angel and I can hear the tension in his voice. He answers him by telling him, who he is. And who sent him. Then to help him with his unbelief, he tells him that he will be dumb and unable to speak until the day the prophecy has been performed.
The multitude saw that Zacharias could no longer speak and they assumed he saw a vision that kept him speechless. Zacharias was not only made dumb for his own disbelief, but also for the disbelief of the people whom he served. There was no way that he could have convinced them to believe when he did not believe himself. The leader can only lead to places where he has been. If it is not in him, he cannot lead you there. John C. Maxwell said that you can only go as high as your lid.
It is important to know the heart of your leadership, and what they stand for. I study my leadership to the best of my ability. Anyone that I think that I may want to support, I try to find out as much as I can about their vision and where they are going. I listen to tapes and recording; anything that I can get my hands on. Because I have learned that when you hook up with leadership; the Bible says that the oil ran down Aaron's beard (Psalms 133:2). That means that we are one body and whatever the pastor is dealing with. It will manifest in our homes as well. The same goes for the husbands over the wives, whom are the priests in the home. It goes for blessings and curses, for better, or for worse. It is a marriage. It is a covenant relationship.
I have experienced being under leadership that did not pray as much as I prayed. I have been under pastor’s that was asking me how to study the Bible. They would ask me where I got that information from. So many have prayed and prophesied to me and I knew that they didn't get it from God, because they were saying something off the top of their head and it was nothing about my situation. There have been times that I have went home after service tired and drained because the whole experience was nothing more than a flesh party.
Be careful of your leadership. Be careful of what it spoken into your life. Be careful of those who do not allow you to operate in the purpose that God has ordained for your life. This applies to the pastors, clergy, and even husbands anyone in any office of authority. We have to pray for them because they are under warfare on our behalf. But if you have prayed and done all you know to do and you still do not feel like you are being filled by the Spirit of the Lord, then you should begin petitioning God. And He will order your steps.
Zacharias was in a position where he was operating in religion. He is leaning toward his own understanding. Remaining in any position simply because you hold an office will cause your cup to run dry. It will not sustain you. You will be constantly giving out and nothing will be replenishing you. Satisfaction only comes when you are operating in the purpose that God has for your life. Anything else is simply acting out of skill, not worship.
The story goes on to tell how the things transpired. Elizabeth discovered she was pregnant. I believe that Zacharias communicated to his wife to the best of his ability by writing to inform her of what the Angel spoke. Elizabeth leaves and went into consecration with the Lord for five months. It came to pass that she heard the salutation of Mary and the baby leaped in her womb. This brought her praise back, Elizabeth and her cousin. They began to praise God because they were blessed and being used by God. God is our joy. He is our strength. A preacher can not find joy unless he is doing what he is called to do and that is preaching the gospel. The Bible says that out of the belly will flow living waters. There is life in living in your ordained purpose of God.
The time has come for Elizabeth to birth a son. The people said that the child should be called Zacharias after his father. Elizabeth said no. This is how we know that Zacharias communicated with his wife what the angel of the Lord had told him. She said his name shall be called John. The people questioned Zacharias and he wrote that the child's name would be called John. At that very moment, just as the Angel had said, Zacharias tongue was loosed and he began to praise the Lord. Fear came over all that saw it and they began to tell everybody. The news spread all throughout Judea.
One last point worth mentioning is when we remain focused on God and operate out of the love and compassion in our hearts. God will give us all of the help that we need. According to the level of your integrity, God will bless you. Elizabeth hid herself and spent time with God. When she heard the news, the baby leaped in her womb. She praised God and immediately she was filled with the Holy Ghost.
Although it took a little longer, I am pleased to announce that Zacharias faith was also elevated to a place where he also received the Holy Ghost. He began to prophesy. This all took place before the day of Pentecost. Many do not realize that the Holy Ghost was also present all throughout the Bible. This is because the Holy Ghost is not mentioned. The Spirit of God is always present. Just because you do not see him or hear his name, it does not mean that he is not there. In the book of Esther God is not mentioned at all in any form, but you cannot help but realize the move of God.
If you are going through the motions, paying tithes, praying, because it is what you know how to do, testifying because its protocol, going to a building simply because it is what you know to do, you are not getting anything out and you are not expecting anything. You are not operating in your gifts, not preaching or doing anything that God has called you to do, then you are in fact impersonating a Christian. Unless you are passionate about the move of God, unless you are excited about God using you to get the gospel to His people; you are in fact impersonating a Christian.
Believing in God does not make you a Christian. Herod was a believer. He believed that the Messiah would come to the point he spent his life seeking to kill Him as his father did. The devil is a believer. It is by walking with the Spirit of God that makes you a Christian. The Spirit of God is the love of God. It is the Holy Spirit. Who is not timid, who is not weak. Who can handle any challenge that you are faced with. There is nothing that he cannot do. A believer can walk by somebody who has a need. But a Christian is convicted by the Spirit of God to meet their need. A Believer can go to the building and have church, as usual. Whereas a Christian knows that they are the church and can see to the needs of the people wherever they are at.
Are you impersonating a Christian? Are you doing what God has called you to do? Are you talking right? Are you acting right? Can you distinguish you from any other secular person in a crowd? Or do you blend in?
Everywhere I go, they say that they know I am a woman of faith. Not long ago, I was at a farewell dinner with some girlfriends to see one of the girls off. She was moving to Texas. She said that I inspired her. She lives in the atmosphere now that she says it could not have been anybody but God who led her there. She also stated before she left that no one could have a conversation with me without me mentioning God. I had not realized that but it blessed me when she said it. I just told her that it is because he is always with me. He has done so much for me. I can't help but to mention his name.
Zacharias had been operating in the Leviticus priesthood his whole life, yet he just received the Holy Ghost. He had been walking the walk but without the Spirit of the Lord. It is safe to say that Zacharias had been leaning on his own understanding all through the years. Because before he received the Holy Ghost, he did not have any power. We knew that he was found righteous in the eyes of God and we know that he had found the favour of God because he is married to a godly woman. This is a woman who was a wife before he married her. She was married to the Lord. Proverbs 18:22-3, whosoever findeth a wife, findeth a good thing and obtaineth favour from the Lord. But without the Spirit of the Lord working through in us and through us, there is no power to promote change.
Take some time to worship God. Find out what He would have you to do. Watch Him change the situation for you. He says my yolk is easy and my burden is light (Matt. 11:30). Give everything to Him. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. But acknowledge Him in all of your ways and He shall direct your path. –Proverbs 3:5-6
Has He done it for me? Yes He has. I have begun to worship God on a daily basis. I told him that I was tired of struggling financially. Not only did I qualify for a scholarship program at my school where they refunded me enough money to pay my rent. But He also laid it on the heart of another to bless me with enough finances to carry me through the rest of the year. And I honor Him for it. He has given me a couple of platforms to empower others and He has connected me with those who have the same vision that I have. He has only taken me higher and higher, from glory to glory. I appreciate all that He has done. Amen.