Which one of us does not desire to receive the blessings of God? Of course, every living person would want that. Yet, is there anything we can do to receive the blessings of God? Does God simply bless those He chooses or do the eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the whole earth, looking to strengthen and bless those whose hearts are completely His (2 Chronicles 16:9)?
Indeed, the Bible states that God is not an arbitrary God. He is a good God and He does what is good and best, for His glory and for our good. We may not understand why He does some of the things He does. Yet, we also know He is omniscient, the all-knowing God, and therefore He knows how every option will turn out.
In other words, since God knows the outcome of everything that might happen and is able to do what results in the best solution, we can trust that even when things do not work out as we plan, when we trust in God, we know that the best thing is happening.
This is what happened to Zacharias and Elizabeth, the cousin of Jesus’ mother Mary, in Luke 1:5-25. The key to this account is in verse 6, “They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.”
Here is their lesson: God blesses those who walk in His ways, though we do not know when that may happen. Let me say it another way; how do we receive the blessings of God? By our walking (living) in faith (trust).
Zacharias and Elizabeth were walking blamelessly. They were righteous in the sight of God. These are parallel statements. They mean the same thing. They are repeated for emphasis. God wants us to understand who it is that will receive the blessings of God.
Let me say right here, I am not saying that we need to be legalistic followers of the law. This is not what New Testament righteousness looks like. Jesus has taught us that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).
Instead, I am saying that a righteous life, a blameless walk, is found in those who are living a life of trust and faith.
What does this look like?
First, recognize that though Jesus has told us that our righteousness can never be enough for us to enter into heaven, he has nonetheless taught that he has not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. In other words, he has come to live that perfect life, that sinless life, which can only be judged by the law.
How does Jesus live a perfect, sinless life? By following the law. Not the letter of the law, as the Pharisees did. He followed the spirit of the law and this is what He has taught us to do in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Those who live a righteous life will receive the blessings of God.
Not that following the law, even the spirit of the law, makes us right in God’s eye (what is called justification). Unlike Jesus, we can never follow the law perfectly (which is why we need someone to save us from our sins). Jesus became a sin offering for us on the cross so that we can become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). We receive God’s righteousness through faith and trust in Jesus. Hence, a righteous life is a faithful life.
But we are to be perfect as he is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Yet, nobody is perfect and no one ever will be perfect except Jesus. So how are we to do this? By enduring the testing of our faith (James 1:3-4).
Our faith is tested often and throughout our lifetime. How do we respond to that testing? Are we like the seed that falls on rocky soil, which falls away when difficulty comes (Luke 8:13)? Or are we like the seed that falls among the thorns, which are choked with worries, riches, and pleasures of this life (Luke 8:14)? Or will we be the seed that falls on the good soil, holding fast to the word and bearing fruit with perseverance (Luke 8:15)? Only those who persevere in times of testing will receive the blessings of God.
Finally, we must live a life of prayer. Zacharias and Elizabeth suffered through the test of barrenness. In those days, a childless life was evidence of a life not blessed by God. Yet, though they were old and past childbearing age, they persevered. They continued to pray.
Luke 1:13 explains that God has heard their prayer. They were faithful in prayer, continuing to ask God to provide for them a son, even though they were past the age to receive that. It didn’t matter that the world didn’t think they could have a son. It didn’t matter that science said they could not have a son. They trusted that God was able to do what was good and that if it was good for them to have a son, they would continue to pray for it even if it was foolishness to the world.
Their trust in God was demonstrated by their faithful prayer life. Like Abraham, whose faith was counted to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6), Zacharias and Elizabeth’s faith was counted to them as righteousness. God saw their faith in their lives, which was counted to them as righteousness, and determined to bless them with a son.
So what does the account of Zacharias and Elizabeth show us regarding how we too can receive the blessings of God?
- We need to live a righteous life – which means a life of faith and trust in God.
- We need to live a life of perseverance in times of testing – which means trusting that God has our best interest in mind
- We need to live a life of prayer – which means persevering in prayer, even when the answer might seem impossible
When we do these things, we can know that God blesses those who walk in His ways, though we do not know when that may happen. By living this kind of life, we can receive the blessings of God.