Does the daily grind of life make work seem like a duty or obligation? Are there days when your efforts seem to be routine and pointless? Perhaps there are even times when going to church seems routine and your heart is uninspired. These times exhort us to remember that even though our duties seem ordinary, God is always working in our lives and we need to be on duty for Him at all times.
Zechariah was a priest (Luke 1:8). He was a servant of God and had executed faithfully the duties of his position for many years. After decades of performing the tedious daily routine, his life must have seemed quite ordinary and perhaps monotonous. He had not been exalted to the level of a high priest, nor was he notable to men in other ways. In his personal life he may have been harboring significant disappoint as he and his wife had not been blessed with children. Moreover, their chances of having children were dwindling because both husband and wife were poised to exit their child-bearing years.
Life may have seemed pointless to Zechariah, yet he was not discouraged and he remained on duty with his priestly tasks. He was conscientious in his efforts and was diligent in executing the responsibilities God had entrusted to him. His faith in the LORD kept him on duty every day, on task, and in complete submission to the LORD, who was about to bestow great blessing to Zechariah for his good character and faithful service.
The blessings started subtly. Zechariah was selected by lot, as was the custom, to burn incense morning and evening for one week. It was both a tradition and a practical matter that many of the various services performed by the priests were chosen by lot. This procedure allowed a continual rotation of duties amongst the priests, which prevented some priests from shirking boring, unpleasant duties as well as preventing other priests from commandeering the desirable and easier tasks. As a special case, tradition stipulated the same priest was forbidden to burn incense more than one time in his career.
“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” (Proverbs 16:33). Zechariah had been selected by lot to burn incense, but the LORD had decided this would not be Zechariah’s only blessing. It is probable Zechariah was on duty to burn incense for the Sabbath day, because a small crowd of people assembled for worship, which was not ordinary on a week day.
Some scholars correlate the occurrence of Zechariah’s service to a special time of sacrifice and worship, increasing the importance and level of his duties. It was not the Day of Atonement, where the high priest burned incense in the Most Holy Place, but this day appeared to be the Sabbath, a day upon which God puts honor.
Zechariah must have felt somewhat encouraged by his elevated circumstances, but he unaware of the great rewards to come. While on duty at the altar, Zechariah was visited by Gabriel, an angel of the LORD (Luke 1:11, 19). God had honored Zechariah the prophet in the Old Testament to speak with an angel, now He was allowing Zechariah the priest to be the first person in the New Testament to converse with one of His messengers. Not only that, the angel brought Zechariah great news – he and his wife Elizabeth would become parents. At their age, childbirth was a miracle. To top it all off, their child would be none other than John the Baptist (Luke 1:13).
When we are about our Father’s business, it is normal for Him to be about ours. Zechariah was blessed while on duty to the LORD and received special favor. Whereas most are not blessed as richly as Zechariah, God tells us through this story how He blesses those who are on duty for Him. He is not concerned about your ability, only your availability.
God values your efforts in all things that glorify Him. Routine tasks are just as important to Him as others. He wants us to be faithful witness in all we say and do, even if we consider our actions routine and meaningless. When life’s drudgeries dampen your spirits, remember that God still wants you to be on duty for Him.
“I’m Normal.™ I AM.”
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In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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