“Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God
in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office,
he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.
And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.
Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him.
But the angel said to him,
“Do not be afraid, Zacharias,
for your petition has been heard,
and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you will give him the name John.”
Though he and Elizabeth prayed for years for a child, the time for bearing children had long past. He passed the bronze altar, the bronze laver and walked into the Holy Place. The menorah gave light from the left and the table of shewbread (bread of the Presence or face) stood on the right. Past them both was the altar of incense standing just before the veil. There he lit incense as a pleasing fragrance to the LORD.
Out of his sight, just behind the veil, in the Holy of Holies, sat the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat. Only the High Priest entered there, and then only one time per year.
So, to serve within the Holy Place and as near to the Holy of Holies as one could possibly get, had to be an amazing, awesome moment for Zacharias. To be where God said, “There will I meet with you,” to be in the presence of the things made during the exodus from Egypt and the slavery they endured there, had to evoke memories of all the miracles God had performed for his ancestors.
Jehovah performed miracles for them, but Zacharias still waited for his miracle. Now they were well past child bearing age. It seemed his prayer was unheard yet he served Jehovah still.
God knew the desire of his heart, even if he didn’t dare pray for a child any more. That day, while he was serving in the Temple, right before the Holy of Holies, burning incense as a fragrant aroma before Jehovah, with a righteous heart, and faithful to the commands of Jehovah, his prayers were answered.
The Tabernacle and later the Temple, are replicas, patterns, or representations of the throne in Heaven. When Jesus became our High Priest, the veil was torn and we now enter into the presence of God through Him. We no longer burn incense because our prayers are already before God. We read about it in Revelation.
An “angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer;
and there was given unto him much incense,
that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints,
ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.”
My prayers and yours are before the throne of Jehovah, held by an angel and lifted with incense, with Jesus as our intercessor. He hears our prayers. He answers in unexpected ways and times, but He hears.
Don’t be surprised when one day you hear “your prayers have been heard.” The angel told Zecharias about his very own miracle, and told him to name the child “John” which means “Jehovah is a gracious giver.”
He has precious gifts for us today, too. Serve Him in righteousness, and listen. Your answer may be coming this very moment.
Thank You for hearing my prayers.
Thank You for providing a way for me to enter that holy place through my High Priest, Jesus.
Thank You for the angel who holds my prayers before Your throne today.
May my life be a pleasing aroma, a pleasing sacrifice to You with all I do and say.
May I always trust You to answer the desires of my heart according to Your timing and grace.
You are truly the Gracious Giver.
In Jesus’ precious name,