Luke 1:13–17 (NLT) But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”
Luke begins his Gospel with Zechariah serving in the Temple. This was the most important day in Zechariah’s life up to then. He was chosen by lot to burn incense on the altar of incense in the Holy Sanctuary in the Temple. This great honor would come only once in his lifetime. This was the day the Lord chose to send Gabriel to announce that John would be born to Zechariah (of the order of Abijah) and Elizabeth.
In Scripture the meaning of Hebrew names is very significant. In fact, these names accentuate the story that is being relayed.
Zechariah (זְכַרְיָהוּ) means “Yahweh remembers” and reminds us of God’s compassion. Psalm 136:23 (NLT) He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever.
Abijah (אֲבִיָּה) means “Yahweh is my Father” and reminds us of God’s love. 2 Corinthians 6:18 (NLT) “And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
Elizabeth (אֱלִישֶׁבַע) means “My God of the oath” and reminds us of God’s faithfulness. Hebrews 6:18 (NLT) So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.
Gabriel (גַּבְרִיאֵל) means “God is my strength” and reminds us of God’s power to accomplish His promises and His will in our lives.
Psalm 28:7 (NLT) The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
John (יְהוֹנָתָן) means “Yahweh has given” and reminds us of God’s grace. He is a giving God. James 1:17 (ESV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
This story might be summarized by saying, “Because God is our Father, He remembers His promise and through His great power, He graciously gives us the greatest desire of our heart.” Zechariah and Elizabeth found this to be true. How about you?
So What? Which of the names above has the most significance to you in your life right now? Why did you give that answer?
How does this part of God’s character bring you joy?
PRAY: Express your joy to the Lord because of the characteristic you listed above.
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