Rewards of Faithfulness

Key Verse: “The angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.”
—Luke 1:13

Selected Scripture:
Luke 1:5-66

THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF the promised birth of John the Baptist was a very special event in the lives of his parents, Zacharias and Elisabeth. It was special because they had never been blessed with a child, and they were advanced in years, well beyond the ability to bear a child of their own. This was truly a miraculous gift from God, as well as a reward for their faithfulness to him. It was also another major step forward in the plan of God for the recovery and ultimate reconciliation of the whole human family from the penalty of sin and death.

Zacharias was a priest of Israel, and the Scriptures inform us that he and his wife Elisabeth were righteous and faithful people in the sight of the Lord. One day while Zacharias was attending to his priestly duties, and offering incense, the angel Gabriel suddenly appeared to him in the Temple with startling news. “The angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.”—Luke 1:11-13

Thus the preparation for the ministry of John the Baptist began. He was to become a preacher and prophet for the children of Israel by proclaiming that the kingdom of God is at hand, and that the children of Israel must believe, repent, and reform themselves before the mighty hand of God.

He would be given the special privilege of baptizing our Lord Jesus, the Son of God, and to proclaim, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”—John 1:29

When John grew to manhood it was fulfilled of him as prophesied, “He will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”—Luke 1:15-17, New American Standard Version

John’s ministry had a profound effect upon the Israelites. They were aroused and stimulated by his message, and many were baptized with the baptism of repentance. He was truly a voice “crying in the wilderness” (Matt. 3:3), and God blessed his voice and message. John also denied any suggestion by the people that he might be the promised Messiah, but humbly pointed forward to the greater work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Although many were baptized with water, they were not baptized with the Holy Spirit. Our Lord Jesus’ ministry, to which John pointed, would open up a “new and living way” (Heb. 10:20) for a special faith class that would be called and selected during the present Gospel Age.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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