“But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth” (Luke 1:13-14).
God was gracious to Zacharias and Elisabeth in miraculously giving them a child when Elisabeth was barren and they were both up in years. The angel told Zacharias that his child, John (the Baptist), would bring joy and gladness, and not only to him, but “many shall rejoice at his birth.” The reason is given in verses 16-17,
“And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children….”
Many in Israel were saved and “turn[ed] to the Lord their God” because of John’s powerful ministry. And the many who repented and received the salvation of the Lord under the terms of the gospel of the kingdom praised the day that John was born.
Speaking man to man, do others rejoice at the day we were born? This may well be so as a result of our faithful service and testimony for Christ, putting others before ourselves, or because they heard the gospel of grace through us and were saved, or because they learned the truth of the revelation of the mystery.
With fearless passion, “in the spirit and power of [Elijah],” John turned “the hearts of the fathers to the children.” John would cause the belief in the hearts of the fathers of Israel, like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, etc., to awaken in the hearts of their children, the children of Israel alive at the time of John. We, too, by our ardent service for Christ, may well awaken the passionate hearts of the believing from previous generations in this generation—to awaken the evangelistic hearts of men like Hudson Taylor, Billy Sunday, and D. L. Moody in the Church today—and to awaken those whose hearts burned for the Word of God rightly divided like J. C. O’Hair, C. R. Stam, Charles Baker in the Body of Christ today.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.