God had sent an angel to Zacharias to let him know that the prayers for a child he and his wife, Elizabeth, had prayed for many years were about to be answered. But this angelic mission was about much more than just bringing joy to the hearts of these faithful servants of the Lord. God was also preparing this elderly couple for the critical role they were to play in bringing His plan to fruition.
Luke 1:13-14 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
God was working out His purpose in bringing John on the scene. But He chose to do it in a way that was an answer to prayer, and which brought joy and gladness to Zacharias and Elizabeth. God doesn’t “use” people; He blesses them.
Luke 1:15-17 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
This detail about who their child would become contributed to the joy and gladness. John was destined to be great in the sight of the Lord, and to turn many back to Him. This, and not that he would be great in the world’s eyes or amass great wealth, fame or power, was the source of joy for his parents.
Many parents focus intently on preparing their children for worldly success, doing their best to insure they receive the best possible opportunities for education, sports and other activities. Yet they utterly neglect doing anything about helping that child become “great in the sight of the Lord.”
It astounds me, for example, how many “Christian” parents think it more important to have their children in a football or soccer league on Sunday morning than that they be in God’s house. They don’t seem to realize that they are thereby giving those youngsters powerful lessons about what their priorities in life should be.
How many parents are continuously and prayerfully on the lookout for those “teachable moments” when inquiring little minds are naturally open to hearing how God has shaped and operates in this world, and what He expects of them?
Deut 6:6-7 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
The child God was giving to Zacharias and Elizabeth was His blessing for them, an answer to many years of their prayers. But John was to them not only a blessing, but a trust. God had the angel tell the parents of John’s intended destiny so that they would raise him every day with that destiny in mind. Knowing that God planned a great work for their child, Zacharias and Elizabeth could not help but be intently focused on helping him become the man of God he was prophesied to be.
Parents today may never receive an angelic message about God’s intended destiny for their offspring. But they don’t really need such a word, since Scripture is very clear on this subject:
Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
I’m sure that in rearing their child, Zacharias and Elizabeth never lost sight of God’s calling on his life. And Christian parents today can just as sure that God created every one of their children for good works that He has already prepared for them to walk in. There is a great destiny planned for each one.
And just like Zacharias and Elizabeth, godly parents today must be committed to consciously and deliberately raising each child to be “great in the sight of the Lord.”