Annunciation to Zechariah
According to the Gospel of Luke, Zechariah was a Jewish priest and Pharisee of the line of Abijah, during the reign of King Herod the Great, and husband of Elizabeth, a woman from the priestly family of Aaron. The parentage of John the Baptist is not recorded in the other Gospels. The evangelist states that both the parents were righteous before God, since they were blameless in observing the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. When the events related in Luke commenced, their marriage was still childless, because Elizabeth was barren and, like her husband, was advanced in years (Luke 1:5-7). The duties at the temple in Jerusalem alternated between each of the families that had descended from those appointed by King David (1 Chronicles 23:1-19). The offering of incense was one of the most solemn parts of the daily worship and, owing to the large number of eligible priests, no priest could hope to perform the task more than once during his lifetime. Luke states that during the week when it was the duty of his family to serve at the temple in Jerusalem, the lot for performing the incense offering had fallen to Zechariah.
The Gospel of Luke states that while Zechariah ministered at the golden altar of incense, an angel of God announced to him that his wife would give birth to a son, whom he was to name John, and that this son would be the forerunner of the long-expected Messiah (Luke 1:12-17). Citing their advanced age, Zechariah asked with disbelief for a sign whereby he would know the truth of this prophecy. In reply, the angel identified himself as the Archangel Gabriel, sent especially by God to make this announcement, and added that because of Zechariah's doubt he would be struck dumb and not able to speak until the day that these things happen. Consequently, when Zechariah went out to the waiting worshipers in the temple's outer courts, he was unable to pronounce the customary blessing (Luke 1:18-22)
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