11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
The above verses are incredibly rich with information and meaning, but we will focus as usual on the verse containing the word heart with the others providing context. Nonetheless I wish to provide the following introductory verses about Zechariah and Elizabeth which are reminiscent of Abram and Sarah before they had a child.
5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
And following the verses for today we have
18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”
With all of this for context let us now take a closer look at verse seventeen And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. To be absolutely clear the Lord spoken of here is Jesus. Recall the baby – John – will be filled with the Holy Spirit before he is born. Jesus also in the womb causes this to happen and it is told of later in this chapter.
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
Once again back to verse seventeen where
To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children — To reconcile those that are at variance, to put an end to the most bitter quarrels, such as are very frequently those between the nearest relations; and the disobedient [hearts] to the wisdom of the just or, the righteous. And the most obstinate sinners to true wisdom, which is only found among them that are righteous before God.
John, John the Baptist, will go before Him preparing the way, the people, for the appearance of Jesus the Messiah, the Christ. Today it is the prayers/actions of Christians and the work of the Holy Spirit that pulls sinners to Christ and His free gift of Grace.
As Christians we need to ask ourselves, what prayers or actions are we accomplishing to turn disobedient hearts to Jesus and His wonderful Gift of Grace. When is the last time you prayed for someone who does not know Jesus or invited them to go to church with you. The rest is up to them and the Holy Spirit. But we do have our own tasks set before us so they might avoid hell and damnation.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.