A member of the clan of Abijah (a descendant of Aaron), Zechariah went to the temple to carry out his priestly duties. At the time of Jesus Christ, there were about 7,000 priests in Israel, divided into 24 clans. Each clan served at the temple twice a year, for a week each time.
Luke tells us Zechariah was chosen by lot that morning to offer incense in the Holy Place, the temple's inner chamber where only priests were allowed. As Zechariah was praying, the angel Gabriel appeared at the right side of the altar. Gabriel told the old man that his prayer for a son would be answered. Zechariah's wife Elizabeth would give birth and they were to name the baby John. Further, Gabriel said John would be a great man who would lead many to the Lord and would be a prophet announcing the Messiah.
Zechariah was doubtful because of his and his wife's old age. The angel struck him deaf and mute because of his lack of faith, until the child would be born.
After Zechariah returned home, Elizabeth did conceive. In her sixth month she was visited by her kinswoman Mary. Mary had been told by the angel Gabriel that she would give birth to the Savior, Jesus. When Mary greeted Elizabeth, the baby in Elizabeth's womb leaped for joy. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth proclaimed Mary's blessedness and favor with God.
When her time came, Elizabeth gave birth to a boy. Elizabeth insisted his name be John. When neighbors and relatives made signs to Zechariah about the baby's name, the old priest took a wax writing tablet and wrote, "His name is John."
Immediately Zechariah regained his speech and hearing. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he praised God and prophesied about his son's life.
Their son grew up in the wilderness and became John the Baptist, the prophet who proclaimed Jesus Christ.
Accomplishments of Zechariah:Zechariah served God devoutly in the temple. He obeyed God as the angel had instructed him, raising John as a Nazarite, a holy man pledged to the Lord. Zechariah contributed, in his way, to God's plan to save the world from sin.
Zechariah's Strengths:Zechariah was a holy and upright man. He kept God's commandments.
Zechariah's Weaknesses:When Zechariah's prayer for a son was finally answered, announced in a personal visit by an angel, Zechariah still doubted God's word.
Life Lessons:God can work in our life in spite of any circumstance. Things may look hopeless, but God is always in control. "All things are possible with God." (Mark 10:27, NIV)
Hometown:Unnamed town in the hill country of Judea, in Israel.
Referenced in the Bible:Luke 1:5-79
Occupation:Priest in the Jerusalem temple.
Family Tree:Ancestor - Abijah
Wife - Elizabeth
Son - John the Baptist
Key Verses:Luke 1:13
But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John." (NIV)
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins ... (NIV)
Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.