"He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb."
Zacharias, the central character in this story was a priest. Every direct descendant of Aaron was automatically a priest. That meant there were far too many priests. Consequently, they were divided into twenty-four sections. Only three times a year, at the Passover, at Pentecost, and at the Feast of Tabernacles, did all the priests come together to serve. The rest of the year, each group served two periods of one week each. Priests who loved their work and looked forward to that week of service above anything else. It was the highlight of their lives.
A priest might marry only a woman of absolute pure Hebrew lineage, and it was especially significant to be able to marry a woman who was in the lineage of Aaron. Elizabeth was in the line of Aaron. Zacharias and Elizabeth "were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."
Altogether there were nearly twenty thousand priests, which would mean there were nearly a thousand in each of these groups. There were so many priests that they would cast lots to see who would be able to serve before the altar. There was the morning offering and the evening offering, and there was also the burning of incense before the morning offering and after the evening offering each day of the week. With all these priests, it was a rare thing for a priest to get to serve before the altar, and when the lot did fall upon a priest, he was greatly blessed and overjoyed in his heart. It is possible that some priests never in all their lives got to serve at the altar because the lot never fell upon them. (Like most of us never hit the lottery number.)
But somehow Zacharias had his day. He was chosen to serve before the altar, so his life was fulfilled. But there was one great disappointment in his life. He did not have a son. His wife, Elizabeth, was barren. But he had bee ...
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