“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.” Luke 1:8-9
Life gets rather monotonous at times. It can seem to be an endless cycle of repetitive futility, with each day appearing amazingly similar to the one before. Nothing exciting happens, nothing dramatic. Just the usual routine. Yawn…….
That’s what this verse reminds me of. Zacharias is just doing his usual thing – serving in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood. Doing his duty, just like usual.
Zacharias would have had no way of knowing when he woke up that morning that the entire course of his life would change in one moment on that day. He went into the temple to perform his duties, just like he always did. But this time something remarkable happened…..he was chosen to burn incense before the Lord, an event that would only occur once in his lifetime. Already the day has changed for Zacharias as he prepares to go into the Holy Place. It is far from being an ordinary day now. And as Zacharias enters the Holy Place and stands there alone, offering the incense before the Lord, it must seem like the most singularly extraordinary day of his life. Then, in the midst of this holy moment, an angel brings a most spectacular announcement – Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth will have a son. And not just any son, but the prophet who proceeds the appearance of the Messiah in Israel.
Suddenly the day is anything but ordinary. In one moment everything changed. Everything.
We are a fast paced society. A culture of adventure. Ordinary is boring to us. But it is often in the very ordinariness of life that we will experience a holy moment. Are you watching? Are you expectantly waiting? It may not be anything as spectacular as an angel, but God will certainly show up in your ordinary day. But will you notice?
Our salvation has not condemned us to boring lives of monotony. Rather, we are now intricately involved in the biggest adventure of the universe – impacting lives for the kingdom of God. And in one God ordained moment a life could be changed for all eternity.
Ordinary? I don’t think so.
“According to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.” Luke 1:9
No priest was allowed to burn incense more than once in his lifetime. How many years had Zacharias performed his duty as priest, showing up at the appointed time of service hoping that this time the lot would fall to him to burn incense, only to not be chosen – again? What was it like for him to see new priests get chosen while he still waited? Must have seemed pretty congruent with the rest of his life – always watching someone else get the blessing. But for Zacharias – no son, no incense, no blessing.
Even though this method of casting lots seems random, Proverbs 16:33 says “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” Zacharias’ many years of waiting was not his bad luck – it was the very timing of God. There was an announcement planned for Zacharias. The timing was critical and God was holding back the lot until His appointed time. But when the time came, nothing was able to hold it back. And the lot fell to Zacharias.
It is hard enough to wait when you know there are better things on the horizon. For Zacharias, there could not have been much hope of anything on the horizon at this point. An old man by now, Zacharias may have at times entertained thoughts of having been cheated by life. But God was planning something more tremendous for Zacharias than he could have imagined.
Life is no series of coincidences. What an unimaginable frustration life would be if there was no sense of God’s providence in every step. But because I believe He is sovereign, I can trust that even if it seems that good is withheld from me, it is in accordance with His plan and His timing. Each day can be filled with peace as I recognize that because He orders my steps, I can completely enjoy where He has me today as I wait for what is on the horizon, whatever it may be.
Maybe it will be something as significant as a John the Baptist. Maybe it won’t. But I can trust that it will be exactly what He planned, exactly when He planned it.