On this evening the priest entered the Holy place, and the people outside waited for his reappearance; the Levite musicians handled their harps, and the people watched in breathless silence, ready to prostrate themselves to receive the Blessing. But he did not come. It was his duty not to delay, lest the people should fear that he had been struck dead for some failure in his office. But minute after minute passed and he did not come. At length, after a time which seemed long to the anxious spectators, he came hastily forth with marks of agitation, and instead of giving the usual blessing, he made signs to them that he had seen a vision in the Holy Place, and had been struck speechless. Perhaps he gave the blessing in dumb show, with extended hands, and the service concluded as usual, and the worshippers dispersed to wonder at the portent.The pictures this guy gives in his writing are worth your time and energy. And did I mention the book is free?
This was what had happened within the veil. The priest to whom had fallen by lot to offer the incense was named Zacharias; and his wife, who was also of the sacred family, was named Elizabeth. "They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the law blameless. And they had no child, because that Elizabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years." . . .
What a splendid opening of the Gospel! What a striking scene of earthly magnificence and supernatural glory! The material magnificence of the chamber —with its walls and ceiling and furniture of gold, lighted by the mild radiance of the seven sacred lamps; the sacredness of the place—divided only by a curtain from the mercy-seat on which dwelt the special presence of God; the awe of the sudden apparition of the glorious angel, as if he had stepped suddenly from behind the second veil; the aged priest in his white robe in the midst of this splendour and awe, receiving the first words of the new revelation of God to man—the proclamation of the speedy advent of the long-promised Messiah, and the announcement that the son to be born to him out of due time should be the Herald of the Christ.
Google Books has made me exceedingly happy recently. Particularly for free full books such as the following. I'm really enjoying reading this. The writer gives background on things such as the color of the temple, the way the people saw the sacrifices, etc... Take for instance the following section on the account of the opening of the Gospels: