Today we begin reading the Gospel of Luke with the angel’s dramatic appearance to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. All the people were “praying without at the hour of incense”. Presumably this was the ninth hour as Peter and John went up into the temple “at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer” (Acts 3:1; 10:3). Wonderful things can happen when people pray.
When Jesus was dying on the cross there was darkness until the ninth hour (3pm) (Matthew 27:45). Today’s world is in spiritual darkness and at some point that darkness will be dramatically lifted. But those who have seen but not acted on the light in God’s word will find it is too late – the door will be shut as the parable says.
Zachariah was blessed. His prayer had been heard, but he did not believe and was struck dumb and mute. Not until nine months later and the babe was born was Zachariah able to speak again. Then God used him as a witness that made all the people marvel (Luke 1:65) and the event was talked about everywhere.
So this chapter is about the drama of God’s intervention in the normal course of events. Some believed, like Mary and others doubted, like Zechariah. Today it is well past the eleventh hour of the world’s clock. Let us respond to what Jesus said (Matthew 20:6), for the Master is looking for those who are ready to work in “the eleventh hour”. In contrast no one was willing to put their hands to work for God in Ezekiel’s day (chapter 5). The people were focused only on themselves. Ezekiel exposes their spiritual barrenness with their misuse of God’s magnificent Temple. Today nearly all misuse or ignore His word. God’s message is, “because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your detestable things, therefore I will cut you down.” (verse 11). A divine prophet today would have a very similar message. Let’s read God’s word more and more.