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December 13 – A childless couple produces the forerunner

“But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.”” – Luke 1:13 

Scripture reading: Luke 1:5-25

It was a tragic situation: Zechariah and Elizabeth were childless. Years ago, a woman wrote in a Reformed magazine: “I am a barren woman. A barren woman nearly past the age where I must forever give up the hope of bringing forth God’s covenant seed and the joy of ever holding in my arms my very own baby. Barren—a word full of emptiness. Empty arms, empty home, empty heart. Barren—a lonely word, full of longing for what can never be.”

The gospel of Luke begins with the message that God has remembered His people. The end-time Elijah will be born. John the Baptist will be a zealous prophet, who in the spirit of Elijah, will call Israel to repentance. The Holy Spirit inspired Dr. Luke to record the personal story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. They were a righteous couple who prayed for a child. God intervenes to answer their prayers—years after the last prayer for a baby was uttered. The couple has grown old.

The Angel Gabriel shocks and surprises Zechariah in the temple. The priest is laying incense on the hot coals in the Holy Place. He recoils in fear from the glorious angel. Gabriel announces that the aged couple will have a son. They must name him “John.” Even though he is an aged priest, Zechariah does not believe the message. But he will. And when his tongue is loosed, he will bless God. He will celebrate that his child “will go before the Lord to prepare his ways” (Luke 1:76b).

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that you would live a daily repentant life, because the king has come. Pray for any childless couples who wish to have children.

Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at

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