People Who Were There
Message #1 in a series on New Testament Personalities

Zecharias and Elizabeth

Read: Luke 1:5-25

Text: Luke 1:6 (KJV) And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Theme: God uses and blesses ordinary people who have ordinary faith.


Introduction:

Today we begin a new series. By the time we have finished with it, we will have learned from the lives and personalities of Mary, the shepherds, the wise men and Herod, Simeon and Anna, John the Baptist, Mary and Martha, Peter, Judas Iscariot, Barnabas, Stephen, Aquila and Priscilla, and Timothy.

We will have studied persons who were a part of Jesus' birth and early life, people who were part of His earthly ministry, and people who were prominent in the first church.

This morning we begin the series by examining the lives of Elizabeth ("God her oath") and Zacharias ("Jehovah will remember"). We will come away from our brief glimpse at their lives, with the sure conviction that God uses and blesses ordinary people who have ordinary faith.


I. The Characters

DISCUSS (and list on white board) - Who were the characters in Luke 1? (Ensure Herod, Zacharias, Elisabeth, Gabriel, Mary and John are mentioned.)

II. The Characteristics

EXERCISE - For each of these characters, compile a list of words that describe them.

A. Herod
(Some example descriptions - power, grandeur, Rome, oppression, godlessness)
B. Zacharias
(Some example descriptions - righteous, faithful, prayerful, ordinary, questioning, obedient, thankful, vocal)
C. Elisabeth
(Some example descriptions - righteous, embarrassed, obedient)
D. Gabriel
(Some example descriptions - angel, awesome)
E. Mary
(Don't spend much time on her, since she is the subject of another lesson.)
F. John
(Also the subject of another lesson.)

III. The Lesson

A. Times are never too bleak for God to act.
1. Mention of Herod shows the hopelessness and oppression of the Jewish nation.

2. 400 years of silence added to the feeling that God had abandoned His people.

3. The godly remnant, though, remained faithful, believing that Jehovah would remember (meaning of Zacharias' name).

4. God will never forget His people.

Deu 7:9 (KJV) Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

1 Ki 8:56 (KJV) Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.

Ezek 12:25 (KJV) For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord GOD.

5. Zacharias and Elizabeth believed this.

Notice Luke 1:72 - Zacharias' belief.

Their faith in God's ability to save even when things looked hopeless is an important reminder to us today.

B. God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
1. This was true of Zacharias and Elizabeth.

2. It was true of many others in the Bible.

ILLUS. Moses, Apostles, Gideon, David

3. It is true today.

ILLUS. Dwight Moody - shoe salesman, Billy Sunday - ball player

C. When the worlds' eyes are on great people, God's eyes are on ordinary people.
1. Herod was the great and mighty leader. People would look to such for deliverance.

2. God looked past Herod to two unknowns living in obscurity.

3. Today, we think the world's direction is determined by people like Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, Bhoutros Bhoutros Ghali, Bill Gates, etc.

4. God, however, has His eyes on people like you and me.

D. We should never stop praying.
1. Zecharias and Elisabeth, though ordinary, were extraordinary in their prayer lives.

QUESTION - Was it medically possible for Elisabeth to conceive? (ANSWER - probably not - vs. 7)

QUESTION - Was it right, then, for them to continue to pray for a child? (i.e. If the door seems obviously shut, should we accept that, or keep praying?)

2. The Bible encourages us to pray.

1 Th 5:17 (KJV) Pray without ceasing.

Luke 18:1 (KJV) And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

3. The Bible promises answer to prayer.

Jer 33:3 (KJV) Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

Mat 7:7 (KJV) Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

John 14:14 (KJV) If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

E. Faithful obedience to the mundane service of God has sure reward.
DISCUSS - Does serving God ever become tiresome? How do we keep going?

DISCUSS - Are there areas of God's service which is mundane, and by its very nature tiresome? How do such keep going? (examples - janitors, church bus workers)

1. Zecharias was faithful to his priestly duties, though perhaps mundane and monotonous.

2. We should remain faithful to those aspects of the Christian walk which sometimes become mundane and monotonous, and God will bless.


Conclusion:

Zacharias and Elizabeth, the first in our series on New Testament personalities, teach us some wonderful truths that we can apply to our lives today.

Luke 1:6 (KJV) And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

They teach us that God uses and blesses ordinary people who have ordinary faith.

They teach us the importance of an extraordinary prayer life.

And, they remind us of the sure reward for serving God.

May God help us all to be a little more like Zacharias and Elizabeth.


Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright 1996 William E. Johnson.