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Scars from an Old Wound

It is our past pain that keeps us from believing what God promises us today.

It was the most important day of his life. At long last he was going to be able to enter into the Holy of Holies. Zachariah was a descendant of Aaron; and as was the case of all male descendants of Aaron, Zachariah was automatically a priest. By now there were so many Aaronic descendants that they had to divide them into 24 different groups, with each group giving two weeks out of the year to serve in the temple. And even within each group there were so many men that only the one chosen by lot on a particular day would be given the opportunity to go into the Holy of Holies and to offer the sacrifice. It was great honor to do this, and many priests would go through an entire lifetime of service and never have the opportunity to go into the Holy of Holies and to burn incense and to offer all the sacrifices. Of course, that was the highpoint of all their service, walking into that most sacred place in all of Israel, the place where God dwelled; and there they would take the incense and put it on the fire, and as the smoke would rise from the fire, it was symbolic of the prayers of the people waiting outside. They would wait in complete silence till they saw the smoke rise from the Holy of Holies. Then they would fall on their faces and offer their thanksgiving and their petitions before God as the priest walked out of the Holy of Holies with his arms raised and giving God's blessing on them. It was dramatic, a once in a lifetime experience for priest.

Zachariah was an old man when he finally got his chance to perform this service. He had waited his whole life for what was happening. Hundreds of times he had rehearsed it in his mind—what he would say, what he would pray, what it would feel like. And now as his old, wrinkled ...

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Ben Patterson is campus pastor at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, and author of God's Prayer Book: Praying the Psalms (Tyndale House).

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Sermon Outline:


I. Past pain can cause us to live in unbelief

II. We live in unbelief by not leaving any room for God

III. We live in unbelief by refusing to move from where we are

IV. We live in unbelief by believing in ourselves more than God