Israel, the ancient olive root

Israel, the ancient olive root

Posted: Friday, June 21, 2013 12:50 pm

The Messenger, June 20, 2013
Every priest of Israel was privileged to serve in Jerusalem at the temple five weeks each year.  1) For their order: one week in the first half of the year and one week in the second half of the year.  2) All the priests served one week each for the three High Day Sabbaths, first day Unleavened Bread, Aviv 15; Pentecost, 50 days after Firstfruits; and first day of Tabernacles, Tishri 15.  King David established the 24 orders based on the 24 grandsons of Aaron. (Exodus 23:14-17; Deuteronomy 16:16; I Chronicles 24:1-19)
Zacharias belonged to the eighth order named for Abijah. Unleavened Bread shifted the eighth order to serve the ninth week (first week of Sivan {June}. The 10th week is Pentecost and every year Zachariah had to serve in the Temple two weeks in a row.
One day he was burning incense at the hour of prayer on the altar inside the Holy Place, focused on praying, praising and worshipping God, and he didn’t see or hear the angel enter. He was startled when he turned and saw this rather large handsome angel. It took his breath away.
“Do not be afraid,” Gabriel said. Then he told Zacharias that God had heard his prayers, and was granting Zacharias the privilege of having a son. He told him that his child’s life would be in the power and spirit of Elijah. But Zacharias had to name the child “John.”  (Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 11:14; Luke 1:17)
The Jews expected the return of Elijah since he was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind so many years ago.  At the Passover meal a cup of wine and a plate was set for him. Zacharias knew God would bring to pass the fulfillment of that prophecy. Zacharias was overwhelmed. He could hardly believe he would have a son; much less a son who would fulfill that prophecy. Before Gabriel left, the voice of Zacharias was silenced.
The people waited anxiously for Zacharias to come out into the court. It seemed as though he was in there forever. When he did emerge from the Holy Place, he was literally speechless. He was unable to tell them about the angel, the message or his coming son. He finished his duties and returned home.
When Elizabeth saw him coming she called out; he waved, but didn’t answer. When he reached the house they embraced and he began to weep. He couldn’t tell her what had happened to him or tell her the news about their long awaited child. He wiped away the tears as he struggled to write down the message.
Elizabeth was astonished, awestruck and overjoyed, but not doubtful. She always knew she was meant to be a mother and now it was coming true. Before the month of Sivan (June) ended, Elizabeth was with child. She decided to go into seclusion to be alone with God. When she was six months pregnant she was ready to rejoin her community. It was the time to celebrate the Feast of Hanukah, the festival of lights on Kislev 25 (December). How could she miss this when she had so much to celebrate? Elizabeth’s sixth month was Kislev.
When the day of Passover dawned, Elizabeth could not help prepare the Passover meal because her son would be born that evening. Sundown came beginning Aviv 15, the first day of Unleavend Bread. During the Seder when the children ran to open the door looking for Elijah, in the home of Zachariah, John was born. My, oh my, God’s timing is so perfect.
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Editor’s note: EC Wiggins is an author and the teacher of the Rhemé Bible Class, a non-denominational scripture and study group for women.

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