Revelations of the working of faith began to come into my mind last night as I sat on the edge of my bed. Before I had laid my head down to sleep I had opened my Bible and begun to read the Gospel of Luke, and to my delight very clear points of enlightenment began to come to me and they continued on into the next day, (Being a Sabbath morning) allowing me views into the lives of the characters that make up these Bible stories mentioned in Luke chapters 1-3.
A few, of the several expressions of faith/unbelief that I saw
Zacharias, a Jewish priest, (Which meant that he was of the lineage of Aaron) was in the Temple performing his particular ministration, which was to burn incense before God. The Scripture speaks of him at the time as being “an old man”, and his wife Elizabeth is spoken of as being, “well along in years”. She also being of the family lineage of Aaron. This couple, who apparently had at that time been married for a very goodly number of years still had no children, for the Scripture makes note that Elizabeth was “barren”.
Zacharias, while performing his service in the Temple was sudden exceedingly surprised when the angel Gabriel interrupted him with a very personal announcement. It was meant by Yehovah to be a very joyous announcement, one of exceeding exaltation and celebration, for the angel announced that Zacharias’ prayer had been heard, and that his wife Elizabeth was to bear him a son, and that they were to call his name John. Then the angel went on to give certain direction in respect to the child that was to be born, and certain expressions of his life and ministry. However, what was meant to be a great exaltation and joy was very quickly turned into heaviness and sadness. Why? Because of unbelief.
Let me endeavor to explain.
Luke 1:6 testifies that Zacharias, along with Elizabeth were people that had lived their life by faith, for it is said that they were completely obedient to the Laws of God. I know this because unbelievers, whether in this generation or in that generation do not pay attention to obey Yehovah’s laws. It is only people of sincere faith that pay attention to obey Yehovah’s laws. So in this expression of their lives they are to be highly complimented.
In Luke 1:13 the angel testified that Zacharias’ prayer had been heard by God, and that Elizabeth was to conceive and bear a son. Zacharias was at that time an old man. Likely he had lived with his wife for at least 30 or 40 years, and perhaps even more. In all these years there is no doubt in my mind that both he and she had desired, and even very strongly desired children from Yehovah’s hand. For it is Yehovah only that possesses the power and genius behind every aspect of the conception and pregnancy process, we as human people, as a husband and wife are only participants. God is the conductor. Yet, for all their prayers the years had passed until at last they were both old and they still had no child. However, the angel Gabriel had appeared and said that Zacharias’ prayer had been heard. Think about it, what does that mean? It means that the Holy One all along had heard their prayers to Him. He had heard every time, when in desire and even anguish of heart they had cried to Him (to God) to allow conception. How many times had Yehovah heard their cries? He had heard their cries every time they had called out to Him. But He had a plan, and that plan demanded certain timing, and that their faith be tried with the fire of patient waiting.
Luke 1:18 tells us that Zacharias did not respond to the angel Gabriel in faith, but rather in unbelief. Therefore, he was struck with the inability to speak. What could have been a moment of exceeding exaltation, jubilation, and abounding praise to God for the good promised him, turned to be a time of desperation and humiliation as Zacharias came out of the Temple unable to tell of the wonders that he had just experienced, and the exceeding promise that had just been given to him and Elizabeth. So, I believe a certain question begs to be asked. If Zacharias had cried to Yehovah for so many years for children, why did he not believe when in Yehovah’s time an angel was sent with the promise of a child? I’ll tell you what I believe. Zacharias, very much like we do so very often, based his faith not on the ability and character of God, but on visual stimulation. He saw the years pass and himself become an old man, and his wife certainly at least on the edge of being an old woman, and he laid down the expectation of faith that he once had carried. Therefore, by God’s word, when the angel Gabriel arrived with the promise of the fulfillment of his prayer, he could not immediately produce faith to rightly answer the angel. Beloved, let us hold fast the declaration of our faith firm, unto the end. (Hebrews 10:38) For it pleases Yehovah for us to keep on believing Him in all things. (Hebrews 11:6)
Beloved, let us allow Christ’s word to dwell in us. Let us take continuing action to daily bring His word into us, and retain it in our hearts, that we might never give up believing those promises that He has revealed to us that we have a part in. Let us walk in the Spirit, listening inwardly to His voice. Feeling, and giving credence to His convictions. Valuing those things that He values. Rejecting every other voice, and accepting the voice of His word only. Let us Dearly Beloved, walk in faith.
Later when John was born, at the time of his circumcision, when he was to be given a name Zacharias was given another opportunity to act in faith. The circumstance demanded that he (Zacharias) make a public statement that the child was to be named in obedience to the angel’s declaration to him. This test Zacharias passed. By faith he wrote on a tablet declaring the child’s name to be John, and immediately he regained his power of speech and began to prophecy of the works of God. Yehovah in His mercy does not condemn us when we fail a test of our faith, but rather allows us to go on and be retested another day. Yet, whenever we fail the testing of our faith, we lose out. There is both blessing and honor that we lose out on each time we fail a test of faith, the honor and blessing that Yehovah has in mind for us to possess. He has never called us to failure, or to receive a curse. Rather He has called us to honor, and to receive a blessing. BUT, these are only possible if we will walk by faith.
This story centers on a young virgin woman who is known to us by the name Mary. She at that time was likely between the ages of 14 to 18, not at all old. Approximately 6 months after her cousin Elizabeth had conceived the child who would later be called John, Mary was also visited by the angel Gabriel. This young woman was very surprised by of the angel’s visitation, and very much bewildered at the things that the angel told her. For He was saying to her something that was to any human standard completely impossible, therefore completely unreasonable. For the angel told her that she was to bear a son, and that she was to call Him Yeshua, for He, said the angel, was to save His people from their sin. Yet, she was a virgin, and she clearly understood that a virgin cannot bear a child. So she asked the angel, “how shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34) Gabriel went on to explain that the Holy Ghost was to be the father of this child, and therefore the child was to be called God’s Son. Mary then showed herself to truly be a daughter of Israel, for she had been brought up with and around the faith of Yehovah, with, and around the testimony of the Law, the Psalms, the Prophets, and she very apparently took them to heart, and therefore was able to believe what Gabriel told her. She did not argue, she did not fuss, and she did not endeavor to pass this responsibility off unto another. She simply accepted by saying, “Behold the hand maiden of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38) And it was so, and she for her whole life long bore the burden of the calling of God on her life. Which was a blessing and honor on one hand, and two edged sword to pierce her soul on the other hand. She believed God.
Another expression of faith, or more accurately, an expression of lack of faith
In this story Yeshua was 12 years old. His step father Joseph, along with his mother and many others went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. After the Passover his parents had supposed Him to be in the company of other relatives and friends, and had traveled in the direction of their home for a full day until they realize that Yeshua was not among their company, therefore they turned back and began to search in Jerusalem for Yeshua. After three days they found Him in the Temple speaking with the chief leaders there. His mother asked Him, “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, they father and I have sought thee sorrowing?” Jesus answered, how is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my father’s business?” (Luke 2:48-49 KJV)
After years of the dealing of God, after numerous angelic visitations, after seeing the shepherds sent by Yehovah’s command to visit them in the manger, after being visited by the wise men from the east who gave them very valuable gifts in homage to Yeshua, still unbelief was present in Mary’s heart, but unbelief was not found in Yeshua’s heart. Was there a reason for this?
Faith must be maintained every day. Each and every day, each and every moment we must purpose to walk in faith, listening only to the voice of the Spirit. Mary had done what is so common for all of us, she had gotten so occupied by the events and responsibilities of life that she failed to recognize what was happening, and her failure to recognize was because she had not kept her faith up. If she would have stopped and thought in respect to all the events that had happened in respect to Yeshua’s life it would have un-doubtedly come into her mind that Yeshua was not Joseph’s son, but Yehovah’s son. Therefore, she would have understood what He (Her son, Yeshua) needed to be about the Heavenly Father’s business. And, if she would have done this, she would have saved herself three days’ worth of stress and anxiety fretting about where the child could be found.
I am sad to admit I have many times in life been that way, but I don’t want to be, I want to walk in faith. I want to think as He thinks because I, from my heart believe His word; His laws, His promises, and the forecasts of His prophets. How about you? Are you satisfied with your level of faith? If you are not there is only one way to lift your faith, and that is to bring His word into yourself, speak it, and keep it. Keep it in your heart and mind, on your lips, and do it in your actions. That is the only way to build, and maintain faith.
An American Watchman,
Gregory A DeHart