01 – Conception Of The Baptist
Where: Jerusalem, Judea, Canaan
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In May of 7 BC, the planets Jupiter and Saturn both passed through Pisces. They did it again in October and then again in December. Those who studied the night sky for such things noticed and interpreted this as a sign announcing that a king would be born in Canaan. In Israel, however, King Herod the Great had his sons, Alexander and Aristobulus, executed.
Zecharias was an Aaronic priest, of the order of Abijah, in December of 7 BC [in the Hebrew year of 3755 and the Roman year of 748], in Jerusalem of Judea. Both he and his wife Elizabeth were descended from Aaron, the brother of Moses. Twice a year, for one week, the order of Abijah served in the sanctuary of the temple in Jerusalem. Zecharias’ token had been drawn at random [by lot] (he had been “chosen by God”) out of perhaps 800 priests to offer the evening incense (and a prayer on behalf of the people gathered outside) at the Altar of Incense. It would be his job to keep the coals of the incense altar burning. God considered Zecharias to be righteous, just as God had considered Noah to be righteous. While the crowds outside prayed, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Zecharias to inform him that in their old age, he and Elizabeth his wife, would finally have a son. This came as a tremendous surprise to Zecharias. Because of his old age, he had long ago stopped praying for a child. Now he would have a child in his old age just as Abraham was given a son because of his righteousness.
The only conditions put on the birth of the child, were that he was to be named John (“God is gracious”) and that he should not drink any grape product [which is part of a Nazirite vow]. From this moment, John was to be considered “set aside” (called) by God.
Just as the wife of Manoah was barren, but gave birth to Samson, who was “set aside”. Just as Hannah was barren, but gave birth to Samuel the prophet, who was “set aside”. Just as Jeremiah had been “called” by God, John would be “called” by God. John would be full of the Spirit of Elijah, as the prophet Malachi had said, and would be called to prepare the people of God for the coming of the Messiah and the Kingdom of David.
Zecharias had doubts, and asked for some sign that what Gabriel said was true. Gabriel told Zecharias that he would be unable to speak until the birth was accomplished and God’s word fulfilled. When Zecharias came out from the sanctuary, he could tell the crowds nothing.
When the week of Abijah’s service was over, Zecharias went home [traditionally located 4-5 miles to the southwest of Jerusalem at ain Karim]. There, in early January of 6 BC, Zecharias had sex with Elizabeth in the winter cold and Elizabeth conceived. In order to insure that this pregnancy would go full term, she took the extra care of “activity reduction.” It would not do to get pregnant and then lose the fetus because of overwork.
No questions have been asked yet.