WE have seen that the temple built by Herod was, in about ten years, so far completed as to be opened for worship. Soon after services began in this temple, Gabriel, the angel who had, more than five hundred years before, held so many communications with Daniel, appeared to Zacharias as he was offering incense before the altar, while all the people stood without, praying. Zacharias was an aged priest, of the course of Abia; "and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth."

Now when Zacharias saw the angel, "he was troubled, and fear fell upon him; but the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias; for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth 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; for he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost. . . . .; and many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him [Christ] in the spirit and power of Elias [Elijah], to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

By this we see that John, the promised son of Zacharias, was to prepare the minds of the people to receive Christ when he should appear.

Zacharias could not believe that what the angel said would come to pass, and said, "Whereby shall I know this?" "And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God, and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings; and, behold, thou shalt be dumb and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. 

And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he tarried so long in the temple. 

And when he came out, he could not speak unto them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless."

About six months after Gabriel talked with Zacharias in the temple, he "was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph. "The virgin's name was Mary; and both she and Joseph were of the lineage of David. 

The angel told Mary that God would in a miraculous manner give her a son, and that she must call him Jesus, which means Saviour. Of Jesus the angel said, "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." Gabriel also told Mary what promise had been made to Zacharias and Elizabeth, and since Elizabeth was her cousin, Mary went to visit her, at her home in the hill country of Judea.

As these two holy women talked together of the kind dealings of God toward them, and of the honors which he was about to bestow upon them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they praised God that the Saviour of the world, for whom all had been so anxiously looking, was about to appear.

When John was born, the tongue of Zacharias was loosed, and he began at once to praise God and to prophesy. Of his infant son he said, "And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."



The dayspring properly signifies the day dawn; and the introduction of the gospel 

dispensation is compared to the opening of a new day, the increasing light of which gradually dispels the shadows of the night, which have brooded over the earth.