And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, 9 According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. Luke 1:8&9
The Christmas story generally centres around Jesus, but the Christmas story historically covers a 18 month period, 2 pregnancies, and the births. We centre on Jesus but we should also include John the Baptist. Unfortunately what seems to happen is that a theology is developed around a traditional narrative and becomes rather repetitive. It is firmly established that the ministry of John the Baptist is a forerunner to Jesus, and a necessary preparation, and it is here that the historian Luke takes up the narrative starting to where God began the redemptive work. It starts with Zacarias and Elizabeth. Zacarias is a priest in the Temple and God brings the greatest prophet of the Old Covenant out of the priesthood. It is not the first time this happens, in fact Isaiah is a high priest for a time. We generally associate John the Baptist as a New Testament figure, but this is not true, Jesus Himself establishes this. Matthew 11:9 spells out what Jesus’ perspective was for John. Sometimes our lack of Bible literacy can use our ignorance to associate people and situations into traditional interpretations. In this series of Christmas Parallels I am praying that God brings great insight, brings revelation in that we approach this Christmas with new eyes, which will lead us to a new hope.
God will bring a new prophetic generation from what was a traditional ministry model
The preparation for John the Baptist in the preparation for the Messiah is one that marks a change as God is about to prepare the greatest work of Redemption through the 2nd Elijah of Scripture. When we read what happened to Zacarias and the prophecy he declares when the Holy Spirit comes upon him, fills him with revelation is very striking. He declares the Scripture revelation over John, that he would go before the Lord in the power and spirit of Elijah. Where Elijah prays for baptism by the fire of the altar on Carmel, John would now use water. This water would be used to reveal God in the Messiah, whereas in 1 Kings 18 God is seen in the raining down of fire on the altar on Carmel. The spirit of Elijah would draw men back to God. These men who would be drawn would not be the world at first but be God’s covenant people. Malachi 4 prophesies this reconciliation of the generations to the Lord and to each other. The mystery to unfold in 2 babies for Christmas is that they represent the ending and beginning in God’s purpose. John the Baptist represents a great transition from priesthood to prophetic. John is in a word transition. If we examine 2020 in terms of the shaking, the hardships, trials by fire, we should see them as essential transitions just like the ones that John represented then. When priesthood passed from one generation to the other, John would not take that on but was led into the wilderness. He is led by the inspiration of Isaiah 40, in which the prophet declares changes. John knows that he is walking out the fulfilment of that word.
So it is not by chance that this change starts at the altar of incense where Zacarias is starting his customary task of burning incense. An angel appears and Zacarias understands that just like Abraham, beyond years to parent is told that God would do a miracle. From this priestly function came a prophetic promise. I believe as the Church has been shaken this year, so God wants to bring out of the priestly function something prophetic. It is time to open ourselves to the fact that changes are about to take place in our midst, and what one day as we meet and “burn our incense” in worship and intercession we shall have angelic encounters. These angelic encounters will set in motion many months of a “gestation” of God’s promises. It would be 9 months before Zacarias and Elizabeth would see that angelic proclamation grow in the womb of Elizabeth. So in our Church this Christmas we know something will be set in motion.
“Fear not, your prayer is heard”
These are the first words of the Angel Gabriel, who would within months visit Mary also. There is coming a season in those who prepare, where old prayers for fruit, for purpose, for service will be answered. God is going to plant His “Seed” within us. Just like Abraham in Romans 4, Paul says “He believed in hope when all was against hope”. So we have lived in that position. Yet our prayers which may have had a human perception that we were praying into our homes, our families, God has transcended them to a eternal purpose. Zacarias and Elizabeth had prayed many years for a son or daughter, lived through the shame of childlessness now God was going to take this shame, take this lack and translate that into a role so significant of their child that he would be known as the forerunner of the Messiah. This Christmas can be that season. We can see that whilst our prayers never came to fruition till now, suddenly an angelic visitation transmits back to us secret desires and aspirations, and tells us that what our horizon of prayer was, God has taken seriously and is about to astound us with a greater purpose. Zacarias did not live to see John preaching in the wilderness in full in 30AD, or thereabouts. It is probable that Zacarias died but one thing God made sure, was when John was born Zacarias was shown by God the extent of what their prayers would do.
For many years here in the UK we would surmise where revival would start, what would start it. It seems we have come through some very dry periods spiritually, and now we have come to a crisis moment. It is here this word applies. Maybe in this time all what we prayed for in the 80’s, 90’s through the millenial years will now come to pass. What we sowed in tears…we will know reap with Joy. It is going to be in that place of the altar of intercession in this season we are going to meet the angel…and he shall assure us.
“You shall have joy and gladness”
There is coming a season of joy and gladness to His people. This is conditional. This is for those who faithfully served God for years, did not depart the Word into the errors of the age, nor into the flesh. There is a birthing coming in His people, that shall be a motivation. The Church needs to regain motivation. The motivation is not studying Eschatology from the point of view of the Beast, the false prophet or the antichrist, but from the point of view of the Throne, the Bride, the eternal union with Christ, and a new creation of heaven and earth, and finally perfection. These are great motivators who will use these points to become overcomers. Yes that is because I am not prophesying a easy and glorious 2021. I see great difficulties and even persecution ahead, but within them there is a glory for the overcomer.
“He shall be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth”
I have no doubt that the activity of the Holy Spirit in the generations to come are going to shine with God’s glory, because the task they have is one so great that it completes the Old Covenants, and brings the fulness of the New Covenant. Both Luke 24 and Hebrews 11 speaks of our generations completing the task of former generations and generations which included the heroes of faith. The devil has tried to obscure God’s purpose to the young people and children just lately, but God is about to visit these new generations. This will be a sign, akin to what Joel prophesied in Joel 2:28-31, where the Holy Spirit visited the generations old and young but gave specific gifts and manifestations, young being visionary, and old dreaming the dreams of God.
“To make ready a prepared people for the Lord”
Many years ago when I was in Portugal the Lord gave me an insight into this word in Luke 1. The prepared people had to be made ready for the Lord. That was John’s task. The prepared people is us, who have prayed and walked in that preparation, many years noting down in our prayer journals promises of what God is going to do. Now we need to be made ready. For here in Luke 1 the Lord was about to come. Here we must apply this not as a 1st coming, but the end time Coming of Jesus. He is coming for the Church, so He can come with the Church to execute Judgment on the earth. Jude is the base scripture for this truth. We have taught that we shall be witnesses of His coming, but in fact more clearly the Bible teaches us that we shall be participants in the Coming of Christ in judgment. That is why the Holy Spirit is preparing the Church in these times for this role. John revealed Christ through his ministry, and there is a end time forerunner ministry coming to His people. Those who are included are those who are prepared, and are therefore made ready.
I believe therefore the Christmas parallels as they unfold to us in Scripture speak of completion and transitions into new and greater things. I believe as we receive them in our day we shall realise that Christmas 2020 was a corporate shift of our perception of Biblical truth and we shall flow in a greater way in the new and greater things God has planned for us.