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before God, walking in all the com- | the temple of the Lord. mandments and ordinancesa of the 10 And the whole multitude of Lord, blameless.
the people were praying without, 7 And they had no child, be- at the time of incense. cause that Elisabeth was barren, and 11 And there appeared unto him they both were now well striken in an angel of the Lord, standing on years.
the right side of the altar d of in8 And it came to pass, that cense. while he executed the priest's of- 12 And when Zacharias saw him, fice before God in the order of his he was troubled, and fear fell upcourse,
on him. 9 According to the custom of 13 But the angel said unto him, the priest's office, his lot was to Fear not, Zacharias : for thy prayer burn incense when he went into is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth a 1 Cor.11.2. Ph.3.6. b Ex.30.7,8. c Le.16.17. d Ex.30.1. Re.8.3,4. e Ju.13.
22.ver. 29. Da.7.14.27. Mi.4.7.
refer to all the duties of religion, which cense, and it was not lawful for this comwere made known to them. 1 Blame- pound to be used elsewhere than in the less. That is, no fault or deficiency could house of God. 1 Into the temple. See be found in them. They were strict, ex- Mat. xxi. 12. The part of the temple act, punctual. Yet this, if had been where incense was burnt was the holy mere external observance, might have place. been no proof of piety. Paul, before his 10. The whole multitude. This was conversion, also kept the law externally the regular time of evening prayer, and blameless. Phil. iji. 6. But in the case multitudes came up to the temple to worof Zachariah and Elisabeth, it seems to ship. Praying without. That is, in have been real love to God, and sincere the courts around the temple; particularly regard for his law.
in the court of the women. 7. Well stricken in years. Old, or 11. An angel. An angel is a mesadvanced in life, so as to render the pros- senger sent from God. It had now been pect of having children hopeless.
about four hundred years since the time of 8. Before God. In the temple where Malachi, and since there had been any God dwelt, by the symbols of his presence. divine revelation. During that time the The temple was regarded by the Jews as nation was looking for the Messiah; but the house or dwelling of God; and in the still with nothing more than the ancient first temple there was, in the most holy prophecies to direct them. Now that he place a cloud called the Shechinah, or vis- was about to appear, God sent his mesible sign of the presence of God. It was senger to announce his coming, to encour-, thus before God, that Zachariah offered age the hearts of his people, and to preincense.
pare them to receive him. 1 On the 9. According to the custom of the right side, &c. The altar of incense priest's office, his lot was. The Jewish stood close by the veil which divided the writers inform us that it was customary holy place from the most holy. On the for the priests to divide their daily task by north stood the table of shew-bread. On lot. T To burn incense. Incense is an the south the golden candlestick. As aromatic, or white rosin, procured from Zacharias entered, therefore, with his trees chiefly in Arabia. It is obtained face to the west, the angel would stand by making incisions in the tree, and the on the north, or near the table of shew. gum flows out.
It was distinguished for bread. a peculiarly pleasant smell when burnt,
12. He was troubled. This was an and was therefore used in ancient wor- unusual appearance. He was alone, in ship. It was burnt by the priest twice a the presence of God. · The appearance day, morning and evening. Ex.xxx. 7 was sudden, unexpected, and therefore -8. This was the time of the evening fearful. incense. The incense used in the temple 13. Thy prayer is heard. That is, was made of stacte, onycha, and galba- thy prayer for offspring. This, among num, (Ex. xxx. 34), with pure frankin- the Jews, was an object of intense desire.
shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt, he shall be filled with the Holy call his name John.
Ghost, even from his mother's 14 And thou shalt have joy and womb. gladness; and many shall rejoice 16 And many of the children of at his birth.
Israel shall he turn to the Lord 15 For he shall be great in the their God. sight of the Lord, and shall" drink 17 And f he shall go before him neither wine nor strong drink; and in the spirit and power of Elias, to a ver.60,63. b ver.58. cc.7.28. d Nu.6.3.
f Jno.1.34. No prospect was more gloomy to them of wine, mingled with sugar, and having than that of dying childless, so that their the property of producing intoxication. name should perish. Special pains, Many of the Jewish writers say, that by therefore, had been taken in the law, to the word here translated strong drink keep up the names of families by the law was meant nothing more than old wine, requiring a man to marry his brother’s which probably had the power of produwife. Deut. xxv. 5.
cing intoxication. Shall be filled with 14. At his birth. This does not refer the Holy Ghost, &c. Shall be divinely so much to the time of his birth, as to sub- designated or appointed to this office, and sequent rejoicing. Such shall be his qualified for it by all needful communicacharacter, that he shall be an honor to tions of the Holy Spirit. To be filled the family, and many shall rejoice that he with the Holy Spirit, is to be illuminated, lived. Or, in other words, he shall be a sanctified, and guided by his influence. blessing to mankind.
In this place it refers: ls To the divine 15. Shall be great. Shall be eminent, intention that he should be set apart to or distinguished as a preacher. 1 In the this work, as God designed that Paul sight of the Lord. Greek: before the should be an apostle from his mother's Lord. That is, shall be really or truly womb.
Gal. i. 15.-2. It refers to an great. God shall regard him as such. actual fitting for the work from the birth, T Shall drink neither wine. Wine was by the influence of the Holy Spirit, as was the juice of the grape. The kind of wine the case with Jeremiah (ser. i. 5), and commonly used in Judea was a light wine, with David. Ps. xxii. 9, 10. often not stronger than cider in this coun- 16. Children of Israel. Jews. Detry. It was the common drink of all scendants of Israel, or Jacob. T Shall classes of the people. The use of wine was he turn. By repentance. He shall call forbidden only to the Nazarite. Num. vi. them from their sins, and persuade them 3. It was because John sustained this to forsake them, and to seek the Lord their character, that he abstained from the use God. of wine. IT Strong drink. It is not 17. Shall go before him. Before the easy to ascertain precisely what is meant Messiah, or the Lord Jesus. by this word, but we are certain that it nexion here leads us to suppose that the does not mean strong drink in our sense word him refers to the “Lord their God," of the term. Distilled spirits were not in the previous verse. If so, then it will then known. The art of distilling was follow that the Messiah was the Lord God discovered by an Arabian chemist, in the of Israel: a character abundantly given ninth or tenth century; but distilled li- bim in other parts of the New Testament. quors are not used by Arabians. They | In the spirit and power of Elias. banished them at once, as if sensible of See note, Mat. xi. 14. T To turn the their pernicious influence. Nor are they hearts of the fathers to the children. used in eastern nations at all. Europe In the time of John the Jews were divided and America liave been the places where into a number of different sects. They this poison has been most extensively used; were opposed violently to each other, and and there it has beggared and ruined mil pursued their opposition with great anilions, and is yearly sweeping thousands mosity. It was impossible but that this unprepared into a wretched eternity. The opposition should find its way into famistrong drink arnong the Jews was pro lies, and divide parents and children from bably nothing more than fermented liquors, each other. John came that he might alor a drink obtained from fermented dates, lay these animosities, and produce betfigs; and the juice of the palm, or the lees ter feeling. By directing them all to
turn the hearts of the fathers to the said unto him, I am Gabriel,
that children, and the disobedient to stand in the presence of God; and the wisdomí" of the just; to make am sent to speak unto thee, and ready a people prepared for the to shew thee these glad tidings. Lord.
20 And, behold, thou shalt bef 18 And Zacharias said unto the dumb, and not able to speak, until angel, Whereby shall I know this? the day that these things shall be for Í am an old man, and my wife performed, because thou believest well stricken in years.
not my words, which shall be ful19 And the angel answering, filled in their season. 1 or, by. Ps.111.10. a Mat.11.14. Mar.9.12. d Da.8.16. ver.26. e He.1 14. f Eze 3 26. Mat.19.26. Ro.4.21. 6 1 Pe.2.9. c Ge.17.17.
one Master, the Messiah, he would di- el is made up of two Hebrew words, and vert the attention from the causes of their signifies man of God. This angel is difference, and bring them to union. He mentioned as having been deputed to in would restore peace to their families, and form Daniel that his prayers were heard. reconcile those parents and children who Dan. viij. 16; ix. 21. T That stand in had chosen different sects, and suffered the presence of God. To stand in the their attachment to sect to interrupt the presence of one, is a phrase denoting honharmony of their households. The effect or or favor. To be admitted to the of true religion on a family will always be presence of a king, or to be with him,
was to produce harmony. It attaches all the à token of favor. So to stand before God, family to one great Master, and by at- signifies merely that he was honored or tachment to him, all minor causes of dif- favored by God: permitted to come near ference are forgotten. T And the diso- him, and to see much of his glory. Combedient to the wisdom of the just. The pare 1 Kings x. 8; xii. 6; xvii. 1. Prov disobedient here are the unbelieving, and xxii. 29. And am sent, &c. The hence the impious, the wicked. These he angels are ministering spirits, sent forth would turn to the wisdom of the just, to those who shall be heirs of salvation. or to such wisdom as the just or pious Heb. i. 7, 14. They delight to do the manifested; that is, to true wisdom. will of God, and one way of doing that 9 To make ready a people, &c. To will, is by aiding his children here; by prepare them, by announcing that the succoring the afflicted; and by defending Messiah was about to appear, and by those who are in danger. There is no calling them to repentance, that they might more absurdity or impropriety in supposbe prepared for his coming. God has ing that angels may aid men, than there always required men to be pure in a spe- is in supposing that good men may aid cial manner, when he was about to ap- one another. And there can be no doubt pear among them. Thus the Israelites that it affords high pleasure to the angels were required to purify themselves for of God to be permitted to aid those who three days when he was about to come are treading the dangerous and trying down on mount Sinai. And so when path which leads to eternity. Holiness is God the Son was about to appear as the the same as benevolence; and holy beings Redeemer, he required that men should seek and love opportunities to do good to prepare themselves for his coming. So their fellow creatures. In the eye of holy in view of the future judgment—the sec- beings, all God's creatures are portions of ond coming of the Son of man-he re- one great family; and whenever they can quires that men should repent, believe, and do them good, they rejoice in the opportube pure. 1 Pet. iv.7. 2 Pet. iii.11, 12. nity, at any sacrifice. 1 These glad
18. Whereby shall I know this? The tidings. This good news respecting the thing was improbable, and he desired ev- birth of a son. idence that this would take place. The 20. Because thou believest not, &c testimony of an angel, and in such a This was both a sign and a judgment: a place, should have been proof enough, but sign that he had come from God, and that men are slow to believe the testimony of the thing would be fulfilled, and a judgheavenly messengers. As a consequence ment for not giving credit to what he had of not believing, he was struck dumb. said. There is no sin in the sight of God
19. I am Gabriel. The word Gabri- more aggravated than unbelief. When 21 And the people waited for self five months, saying, Zacharias, and marvelled that he 25 Thus hath the Lord dwelt tarried so long in the temple. with me, in the days wherein he
22 And when he came out, he looked on me, to take away my could not speak unto them: and reproach among men. they perceived that he had seen ‘a 26 And in the sixth month the vision in the temple; for he beck- angel Gabriel was sent from God, oned unto them and remained unto a city of Galilee, named Naspeechless.
zareth, 23 And it came to pass, that, as 27 To a virgin espoused to : soon as the days of his ministration man whose name was Joseph, of were accomplished, he departed to the house of David; and the vir his own house.
gin's name was Mary. 24 And after those days his wife 28 And the angel came in unto Elisabeth conceived, and hid her- her, and said, Hail, thou that art !
a Ge.30.23. 18a.1.6. Is.54.1,4. 6 Mat. 1.18. 1 or, graciously accepted ; or, much graced. GOD speaks, man should believe. Nor post. It is the duty of ministers of re. can he that will not believe, escape pun- ligion to remain at their work until they ishment. God speaks only truth, and we are entirely unfitted for it, and unable to should believe him. God speaks only what serve God in their profession. Then they is for our good, and it is right that we should must retire. But until that time, he that suffer if we do not credit what he says. for trifling causes forsakes his post, is
21. The people waited. That is, guilty of unfaithfulness to his Master. beyond the usual time. | Marvelled. 24. Hid herself. Did not go forth Wondered. The priest, it is said, was into public, and concealed her condition. not accustonici o remain in the temple This might have been done that she might more than half an hour commonly. Hav- spend her time more entirely in giving ing remained on this occasion a longer praise to God for his mercies; and that time, the people became apprehensive of she might have the fullest proof of the achis safety, and wondered what had hap- complishment of the promise, before she pened to him.
appeared in public, or spoke of the mer22. Had seen a vision. The word
cies of God. vision means sight, appearance, or spec
25. Thus. In this merciful manner. tre, and is commonly applied to spirits, or 1 To take away my reproach. Among to beings of another world. When he the Jews, a family of children was countcame out of the temple, it is probable that ed a signal blessing; an evidence of the they suspected that something of this na- favor of God. Ps. cxiji. 9; cxxviii. 3. ture had detained him there, and that on Isa. iv. 1; xliv. 3,4. Lev. xxvi. 9. Το inquiry of him he signified by a nod that be barren, therefore, or to be destitute of this was the case. He was unable to children was considered a reproach, or a speak, and they had no way of “perceiv- disgrace. 1 Sam. i. 6. ing" it but by such a sign. For he 26. In the sixth month. The sixth beckoned unto them. That is, by beck- month after Elisabeth's conception. TA oning unto them, or by a sign, he inform- city of Galilee, named Nazareth. See ed them of what he had seen.
Mat. ii. 22, 23. 23. As soon as the days of his min- 27. To a virgin espoused, &c. See istration, &c. As soon as he had ful- Mat. i. 18, 19. 1 House of David. filled the duties of the week. "It might Family of David, or descendants of David. have been supposed that the extraordinary 28. Hail. This word of salutation is occurrence in the temple, together with equivalent to, Peace be with thee, or, his own calamity, might have induced him Joy be with thee; a form of speech imat once to leave his place, and return plying that she was signally favored, and home. But his duty was in the temple. expressing joy at meeting her. T Highly His piety prompted him to remain there favored. By being the mother of the in the service of God. He was not unfit- long expected Messiah: the mother of the ted for burning incense by his dumbness, Redeemer of mankind. Long had he and it was not proper for him to leave his been predicted; long had the eyes of the
Lord is 32 He shall be great, and shall with thee: blessed art thou among be called the Son of the Highest:
and the Lord God shall give unto 29 And when she saw him, she him the throne of his father Dawas troubled at his saying, and cast vid: in her mind what manner of salu. 33 And he shall reign over the tation this should be.
house of Jacob for ever; and 8 of 30 And the angel said unto her, his kingdom there shall be no end. Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found 34 Then said Mary unto the favour with God.
angel, How shall this be, seeing I 31 And, behold, thou shalt con- know not a man? ceive in thy womb, and bring forth 35 And the angel answered and a son, and shalt call his name JE- said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall SUS.
come upon thee, and the power of a Da.9.23. Ju.6.12. c Isa.7.14. Mat.l. d Mat.12.42. e He.1.2-8. f 28a.7.11,12 21.
Is.9.6,7. & Da.7.14.27. Mi.4.7. nation been turned to him; and long had is infinitely exalted called the Highest, his coming been an object of intense de- because he is exalted over all his creatures sire. To be reckoned among bis ances- on earth and in heaven. See Mark v. 7. tors, was accounted sufficient honor for T The throne. The kingdom; or shall even Abraham and David. But now the appoint him as the lineal successor of happy individual was designated who David in the kingdom. His father was to be his mother; and on Mary, a David. David is called his father, bepoor virgin of Nazareth, was to come this cause Jesus was lineally descended from honor, which would have rendered infin- him. See Mat. i: 1. The promise to itely illustrious any of the daughters of David was, that there should not fail a Adam: the honor of giving birth to the man to sit on his throne; that his throne world's Redeemer, and the Son of God. should be perpetual; and the promise was T The Lord is with thee. The word is fulfilled by exalting Jesus to be a Prince is not in the original, and the passage may and a Saviour, and the perpetual King be rendered either the Lord is with of his people. thee,” or “the Lord be with thee,” im- 33. 'Over the house of Jacob. The plying the prayer of the angel, that all house of Jacob means the same thing as blessings from God might descend and the family of Jacob, or the descendants rest upon her. I Blessed art thou among of Jacob; i. e., the children of Israel. women. This passage is equivalent to This was the name by which the ancient saying, “Thou art the most happy of people of God were known, and it is the
same as saying that he shall reign over 29. Troubled at his. saying. Dis- his own church and people forever. This turbed or perplexed at what he said. It he does by giving them laws, by defendwas so unexpected, so sudden, so extraor- ing them, by guiding them, and this he dinary, and so high an honor, that she will do forever in the kingdom of his was filled with anxious thoughts, and did glory. Of his kingdom there shall not know what to make of it. TT Cast in be no end. He shall reign among his her mind. Thought, or revolved in her people on earth until the end of time, and mind. What manner of salutation. still be their King in heaven. His is the What this salutation could mean. only kingdom that shall never have an
32. He shall be great. There is un- end. He the only King that shall never doubted reference in this passage to Isa. lay aside his diadem and robes, and that ix. 6, 7. By his being great, is meant shall never die. He the only King that he shall be distinguished, or illustrious; can defend us from all our enemies, susgreat in power, in wisdom, in dominion, tain us in death, and reward us in eteron earth, and in heaven.
T Shall be nity. O how important, then, to have called. This is the same as to say, he an interest in his kingdom; and how unshall be the Son, &c. The Hebrews important, compared with his favor, is often used this form of speech. See Mat. the favor of all earthly monarchs! xxi. 13. I The Highest. God who 35. The Holy Ghost shall come upon