Luke 1:5-23, 59-79
Zechariah, a priest in a division called Abijah, served in the temple for two weeks at a time.
The priests were divided into 24 divisions. This meant that his division served, on average, two times a year. The privilege of offering incense to God was granted by drawing lots. This was a once in a lifetime experience for most priests.1
We glean from the scriptures that both Zechariah and Elizabeth were descendants of Aaron. They were an older couple, she beyond the childbearing years. The society at that time placed great emphasis on a couple having a male heir to learn to do the work to help the family survive. It was an embarrassment to any couple who were childless.
Elizabeth was a relative (some say a cousin) of Mary. In Elizabeth’s sixth month, Mary was paid a visit by the angel Gabriel. After that Mary traveled to the town in Judea where Zachariah and Elizabeth lived.
Elizabeth recognized that Mary was with child and that child was the Son of God. Elizabeth called her blessed among women.
Now Zechariah was troubled when he saw the angel Gabriel and then he became skeptical when he received the message from the angel. The angel took away his speech. Zechariah didn’t speak until he wrote that his child’s name was to be John. Those who knew this couple couldn’t understand—there wasn’t any John in Zechariah’s family. I wonder what that crowd of well-wishers thought when Zechariah spoke after writing down “His name is John”.
Zechariah and Elizabeth were obedient to God’s command.
1.) The Discovery Bible, Zondervan, © 2004, page 1332 –Footnote