Luke (The Peoples Bible)

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Anna in the Bible - Biblical Archaeology Society

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Bible whispers: Luke 6-7

You are responsible for the information and other content contained in any Feedback you submit to us, including, without limitation, their truthfulness and accuracy. All changes to this Privacy Policy are effective when they are posted on this page. Continued use of the Sites following any such changes means you accept and will abide by these changes. Jefferson Ave. Louis, MO If you'd like to change your decision, you may opt in at any time by visiting our website, or by using the button below. Much of the dating of the book of Luke depends on the dating of Acts.

It stands to reason that the book of Luke was completed before Acts. But when? Luke likely used this time apart from Paul to begin gathering information for writing the gospel from primary sources—those people who had witnessed the ministry, death, and resurrection appearances of Jesus.

If Luke took to writing his gospel soon after the information was gathered, then it would have been completed around AD 60, after Paul had been transferred to a Roman prison. But Luke was the only gospel writer to point out the fact known to all present that she was an immoral woman Luke In a similar way, we find in Luke alone the conversation between the robbers crucified alongside Jesus, one of them defending Jesus and receiving the promise of paradise. Jesus ended up sharing a meal with Zaccheus at his house, much to the chagrin of the local religious leaders. The fact that the eternal Son of God condescended to lower Himself, take on human flesh, make Himself subject to human limitations, and seek out His people in bodily form shows us clearly how much God cares for us and, in turn, how we are to care for others.

He was known for his spectacular building programs, but even more so for his paranoid cruelty, which drove him to execute many, including members of his own family. A certain priest named Zacharias…His wife…was Elizabeth : These events happened to definite people. Zacharias and Elizabeth were righteous and obedient, yet also stigmatized by their barrenness but they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren.

Of the division of Abijah : Priestly divisions including the division of Abijah were noted in 1 Chronicles So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.

And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. According to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense : Only priests from a particular lineage could serve in the temple. Over the years the number of priests multiplied, there were said to be as many as 20, priests in the time of Jesus so they used the lot to determine which priests would serve when.

The Gospel of Luke

The lot to serve might fall to a priest only once in his life. To a godly man like Zacharias, this was probably the biggest event of his life, a tremendous privilege, a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Surely he wondered what it would be like to enter the holy place, and if God had something special to speak to him in this special event of his life. It is also easy to imagine that Zacharias asked the other priests who had already performed this service what it was like; asking them if they had any unique spiritual experience when they ministered before the Lord.

The whole event was filled with enormous anticipation. To burn incense : According to the Law of Moses, incense was offered to God on the golden altar every morning and every evening Exodus By this time, there was an established ritual for the practice. There were several lots cast to determine who did what at the morning sacrifice. The first lot determined who would cleanse the altar and prepare its fire; the second lot determined who would kill the morning sacrifice and sprinkle the altar, the golden candlestick, and the altar of incense.


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The third lot determined who would come and offer incense. This was the most privileged duty; those who received the first and second lots would repeat their duty at the evening sacrifice, but not with the third lot. To offer the incense would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Before dawn, hundreds of worshippers gathered at the temple. The morning sacrifice began when the incense priest walked toward the temple, through the outer courts, he struck a gong-like instrument known as the Magrephah. At this sound, the Levites assembled and got ready to lead the gathered people in songs of worship to God.

The other two priests chosen by lot that morning walked up to the temple on each side of the priest chosen to offer the incense. All three entered the holy place together. One priest set burning coals on the golden altar; the other priest arranged the incense, so it was ready to go. Then those two priests left the temple, and the incense priest was left all alone in the holy place.

In front of him was the golden altar of incense; it was 18 inches square and 3 feet high. On that small table lay the burning coals, with little wisps of smoke rising up, ready for the incense. Behind the gold altar was a huge, thick curtain, and behind that curtain was the Holy of Holies, the Most Holy Place, where no man could enter, except the high priest, and that only on the Day of Atonement.

As he faced the golden altar of incense, to his right would be the table of showbread, and to his left would be the golden lampstand, which provided the only light for the holy place. And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense : When the people outside saw the two men exit the temple, they knew that the time to offer the incense had come.

Those hundreds of people bowed or kneeled before the Lord and spread their hands out in silent prayer. They knew that at that moment the incense priest prayed in the holy place, in the very presence of God, for the entire nation. There followed several minutes of dead silence in all the temple precincts — as Zacharias lingered in prayer in the holy place during this, the most solemn experience of his life.

The connection between the burning of incense and prayer might seem strange to some, but it the Bible the burning of incense is a strong picture of prayer Psalm ; Revelation What did Zacharias pray for? He must have thought about it carefully beforehand. He may have even taken out a prayer list, though it is more likely he memorized it. He also knew how long to pray, because he had attended the morning sacrifice as a worshipper many times before, and he knew how long the incense priest stayed in the temple. He must have prayed for both needs of the nation of Israel, which was occupied and oppressed by the hated Romans.

He must have prayed for God to send the Messiah.

In A Nutshell

He probably would have thought it wrong to throw in his personal needs at such a holy moment! Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. Then an angel of the Lord appeared : The angel simply stood on the right side of the altar of incense.

Zacharias probably had his eyes tightly shut in passionate prayer, and when he opened them he saw this angel. When Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him : The angel who appeared to Zacharias was not a romantic figure, or a naked baby with wings.

This angel was a glorious, fearful, and an awesome creature. Your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear a son : It is doubtful that Zacharias prayed for a son when he was at the golden altar of incense. First, it might have seemed like such a selfish need. Second, since he and Elizabeth were both well advanced in years Luke , they had probably given up on this prayer a long time ago.

Sometimes we pray for something for a long, long time. We pray for the salvation of a spouse or a child. We pray for a calling or a ministry. We pray that God would bring that special person to us. But after years of heartfelt prayer, we give up out of discouragement. Zacharias and Elizabeth probably prayed years of passionate prayer for a son, but gave up a long time ago, and stopped believing God for so much anymore.

Bible History Daily articles by Robin Gallaher Branch:

When we are in that place, we sometimes begin — in the smallest of ways — to doubt the love and care of God for us. But God always loves, and His care never stops.


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  4. I gave up on that prayer a long time ago. Zacharias had no idea that God would answer the two greatest desires of his heart at once. He had probably completely given up on the idea of being a dad; it was a hope that was crushed over the years of disappointment. You shall call his name John : The boy was given a name before he was even conceived. This was a command from the Lord to name the boy John. He will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink : This is probably a reference to the vow of a Nazirite found in Numbers 6.

    The Gospel of Luke

    Their son John would be specially consecrated to God all the days of his life, as Samson should have been. Though John would be great in the sight of the Lord , by the grace of God, he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he Matthew The pattern for his ministry would be the great prophet Elijah — in the spirit and power of Elijah.

    Jesus later said this was fulfilled in John Matthew and To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children : This quotation from Malachi is meaningful for more than its reference to Elijah. Elijah was a man who called Israel to a radical repentance 1 Kings For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.

    How shall I know this? But knowing the condition of my wife and I, this is a big one. Can you give us a sign to prove it? It is simply that he feels it must be too good to be true, and he has probably protected himself from disappointment by not setting his expectations too high. We rob ourselves of many a miracle by the same attitude. Zacharias looked at the circumstances first, and what God can do last; we are tempted to think this is logical; but if God is real, there is nothing logical about putting circumstances before God.

    I am Gabriel who stands in the presence of God : Gabriel reminds Zacharias of who he is and where he has come from. There is a big contrast between I am an old man and I am Gabriel — which held more weight?