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A Doctor Charts the Facts

Now many have undertaken to organize an account of the events fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us from the start by the eyewitnesses and reporters of the word. Therefore it seemed best to me also, because I have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, to write for you an orderly record, most excellent Theophilus, so you may know for sure the truth of the words you have been taught.

Prophecy of Birth to the Barren

In the days of Herod, King of Judah, there was a kohen named Zechariah from the priestly division of Abijah.[a] Elizabeth, his wife, was from the daughters of Aaron. Together they were righteous before Adonai, walking without fault in all His commandments and instructions. But they were childless, because Elizabeth was barren and both of them were elderly.

Now it happened to be Zechariah’s time to serve as kohen before Adonai in the order of his division. According to the custom of the priestly office, it became his lot to enter the Holy Place of Adonai to burn incense. [b] 10 And the whole crowd of people was praying outside at the hour of incense burning. 11 An angel of Adonai appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 Zechariah was in turmoil when he saw the angel, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give birth to your son, and you will name him John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 He will be great before Adonai; and he should not drink wine and intoxicating beverage,[c] but he will be filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh just out of his mother’s womb. 16 Many of Bnei-Yisrael will turn to Adonai their God. 17 And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to the children[d] and the disobedient ones to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready for Adonai a prepared people.

18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? I’m an old man, and my wife is well-advanced in age.”

19 And speaking to him, the angel declared, “I am Gabriel, the one standing in God’s presence. I was commissioned to tell you and proclaim to you this good news. 20 So look, you will be silent and powerless to speak until the day these things happen, since you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their time.”

21 The people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering about his long delay in the Holy Place. 22 But when he came out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized that he had seen a vision in the Holy Place. He was making signs to them but remained mute. 23 When the days of his priestly service had been completed, he went home. 24 After these days, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and hid herself for five months, saying, 25 Adonai has done this for me! In these days He looked upon me, to take away my disgrace among the people.”[e]

Prophecy of Birth to the Virgin

26 Then in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by Adonai into a town in the Galilee named Natzeret 27 and to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Miriam. 28 And coming to her, the angel said, “Shalom, favored one! Adonai is with you.[f] 29 But at the message, she was perplexed and kept wondering what kind of greeting this might be. 30 The angel spoke to her, “Do not be afraid, Miriam, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you shall call His name Yeshua. [g] 32 He will be great and will be called Ben-Elyon. Adonai Elohim will give Him the throne of David,[h] His father. 33 He shall reign over the house of Jacob for all eternity, and His kingdom will be without end.”[i]

34 Miriam said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am not intimate with a man?”[j]

35 And responding, the angel said to her, “The Ruach ha-Kodesh will come upon you, and the power of Elyon will overshadow you. Therefore, the Holy One being born will be called Ben-Elohim. 36 Behold, even your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son in her old age; and the one who was called barren is six months pregnant. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”[k]

38 So Miriam said, “Behold, the servant of Adonai. Let it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel left her.

Elizabeth Greets Miriam with Joy

39 Now in those days, Miriam got up and quickly traveled into the hill country, to a town in Judah. 40 She entered Zechariah’s home and happily greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Miriam’s greeting, the unborn child leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was completely filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh. 42 She then cried out with a great shout, saying, “You are blessed among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 Who am I, that the mother of my Master should come to me? 44 For even when I just heard the sound of your greeting in my ear, the unborn child leaped with joy in my womb. 45 Blessed is she who trusted that there would be a fulfillment of those things spoken to her by Adonai.”

46 Then Miriam said,

“My soul magnifies Adonai,[l]
47 and my spirit greatly rejoices in God, my Savior.
48 For He has looked with care upon the humble state of His maidservant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49 For the Mighty One has done a great thing for me,
and holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is from generation to generation
to the ones who fear Him.
51 He has displayed power with His arm
He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down rulers from thrones
and exalted humble ones.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent away the rich empty-handed.
54 He has helped His servant Israel,[m]
remembering His mercy,
55 just as He spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his seed forever.”

Zechariah Breaks His Silence

56 Miriam stayed with her for three months and then returned to her home. 57 Upon Elizabeth’s full term to deliver, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard how Adonai had shown her His great mercy, and they began to rejoice with her.

59 Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child,[n] and they kept trying to call him by his father’s name, Zechariah. 60 But his mother declared, “No, he will be called John.”

61 But they said to her, “No one among your relatives is called by this name.” 62 So they began making signs to his father, as to what he wanted him named.

63 Asking for a small tablet, he wrote, “John is his name.” They were all astonished! 64 And his mouth was immediately unlocked as well as his tongue, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 Fear came on all those who lived around them, and all these matters were talked about throughout the hill country of Judah. 66 Everyone who heard pondered these things in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child become?” For the hand of Adonai was on him.

The Kohen’s Song of Prophecy

67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh and prophesied, saying,

68 “Blessed be Adonai,
    God of Israel,
for He has looked after His people
    and brought them redemption.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of His servant David,[o]
70 just as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ages past,
71 salvation from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us!
72 So He shows mercy to our fathers
    and remembers His holy covenant,[p]
73 the vow which He swore to Abraham
    our father, to grant us—
74 rescued fearlessly from the hand of
    our enemies[q]—to serve Him,
75 in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called a prophet of Elyon.
For you will go before Adonai to prepare His ways,[r]
77 to give knowledge of salvation to His people
through removal of their sins.[s]
78 Through our God’s heart of mercy,
the Sunrise from on high will come upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,[t]
to guide our feet in the way of shalom.”

80 And the child kept growing and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.