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"But 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. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God." - Luke 1:13-16
The New Testament - A Brief Overview
Brief History of the Birth of John the Baptist
Scriptures: Luke 1:5-25
The New Testament covers the period from the birth of John the Baptist, to the life and death of Jesus, to the beginnings of the Church, to the spreading of the gospel throughout the world, to the death of the great apostle Paul.
The Four Gospel Accounts - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
There are four accounts of the life of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and they are referred to as the "Gospel". Each portrays a particular focus about Jesus and His ministry.
Israel and the Word
Most of the world was unaware of God's tremendous plan, yet God had always left His plan and His Word in the world for those who were searching. God revealed his holy Word to the Hebrews and placed Israel in the center of the world and all the mighty nations of the ancient world had to travel on roads and pass through Israel to reach the other nations of the ancient world. The great purpose of history and the Word of God was the coming of the King. God revealed through the ancient prophets that He Himself was coming to the world. But he would not come as a King to set up His kingdom until he first came as a servant who would die for the sins of Israel and for all of mankind. This is because man needed a savior before they could have a King, this Savior and King was referred to as the Messiah in the Scriptures. The Hebrew prophet Isaiah predicted in the seventh century BC that when the Messiah would appear there would be a forerunner who would precede him.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see [it] together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it]. Isaiah 40:3-5
"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts." Malachi 3:1
The Bible revealed hundreds of years before Jesus came that a forerunner would precede the coming of the Messiah. Matthew referred to him as the Herald, the official messenger who would announce the King's arrival. He would prepare the way before the King when he would be approaching. This was a very familiar scene in ancient times, yet this forerunner would be very different in his appearance and in his message.
"And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:17
Zacharias and Elizabeth
In around 5 BC during the days of King Herod the great, there was a priest named Zacharias who had a wife named Elizabeth. They were both descendents of Moses brother Aaron who was the first High-priest and the founder of the Aaronic priesthood. Only a descendent of Aaron could serve as high priest in Israel. Zacharias and Elizabeth were not only descendents of Aaron, they were both righteous before God walking in his Commandments according to the law. They were both very old and beyond the years of childbearing, Elizabeth had been barren her whole life.
The Angel Gabriel Announces John's Birth
Zacharias was chosen to burn incense inside the Temple, and as he was praying an angel appeared to him whose name was Gabriel. The angel revealed to Zacharias that Elizabeth his wife would bear a son, they were to name him John (Hebrew Meaning "God is Gracious") and he would be great in the sight of the Lord, and he would prepare the way for the coming of the King. Zacharias was astonished and doubted the message, the Angel assured him of the good news, and struck him with dumbness so that he could not speak until the promise was fulfilled.
John is Born
Elizabeth became pregnant and all her relatives rejoiced at the miracle, and nine months later John was born, the whole time Zacharias was unable to speak yet once his son was born they made gestures to him about what to name his son. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, "his name is John." From that time forward Zacharias was able to speak, and being filled with the Holy Spirit he gave an astonishing prophecy about God fulfilling his promises to his people Israel. John grew up as a great man strong in body and spirit.