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  The Great Bible Story #87
A forerunner for Jesus

Jacob Ninan
When Herod the Great was ruling Judea as a king appointed by the Roman government, there was an elderly couple, Zacharias and Elizabeth, from Aaron's priestly family, who were known for their reverence for God and right living. One of their problems was that they didn't have any children. One day he was chosen by lot to burn incense and offer prayers in the temple. When he was doing that inside the temple, suddenly an angel called Gabriel appeared in front of him. Gabriel told him that he and his wife were going to have a son called John who would be filled with the Holy Spirit right from the womb. This John would become the forerunner for the Messiah in the spirit of Elijah and would turn many people back to the Lord.

Even though Zacharias was an elderly priest who knew the things of God, he was looking more at his age and how it was difficult for him and his wife to have children. So he was sceptic before Gabriel asking him how this could happen since he was already old! Gabriel identified himself as one who stood in the presence of God and rebuked Zacharias for his unbelief. He said that Zacharias would be dumb till the baby was born. The people were waiting outside for Zacharias to come out after offering the incense, but when he finally came out he could not speak. They tried to ask him what had happened, but he could not say anything.

When Elizabeth became pregnant, she was so embarrassed that she tried to hide herself in the early months. When Elizabeth finally delivered the baby boy their relatives assumed that they would name him after his father. But Elizabeth said that the baby's name would be John. They could not understand why she would do that, and so they asked Zacharias. He asked for a slate on which to write, and he wrote that the baby's name would be John. Immediately he regained his speech, and he described what had happened to him. All those who heard this began to suspect that this child was going to be someone special, and they glorified God.

Then Zacharias himself began to praise God and proclaim how God had finally visited His people and how John was going to be the forerunner for the Messiah in the spirit of Elijah the prophet. He said John would prepare the way for the Messiah and tell people about the salvation of God and the forgiveness of sins.

As John grew up, he began to spend a lot of his time in the desert places till it became time for him to start his public ministry.

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