“Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 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. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 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. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 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.””
Luke 1:11-17 NIV
“When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.”
Luke 1:57-66 NIV
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Luke 1:41 NIV
I said yesterday, “My doubts and fears cannot negate God’s promises spoken into my life.” Even after Zechariah spouted off all the obvious reasons why this spoken Word and Promise couldn’t possibly come to be in his and Elizabeth’s life, the Lord didn’t say, “Oh OK. If you don’t believe it then it won’t happen.” No! He took control of the situation. He took control of Zechariah’s speech and hearing, all the parts that doubted His Promise. When a terrible outcome came upon Zechariah, ie loss of speech and hearing, God turned it into a positive. God had the most important plan unfolding and He was not going to let an old priest’s doubts steal part of THE PLAN OF SALVATION. THE PLAN had already been set in motion. What I see as a negative situation, God used it to embolden Zechariah. Zechariah’s deafness and muteness was the evidence he needed to HOLD ONTO THE PROMISES he had just heard.
PROMISES SPOKEN INTO ZECHARIAH’S LIFE
1. Your Prayer has be Heard!
2. Your wife will bear you a son!
3. Name the child “John” John means, “Jehovah is gracious” or “God has shown favor.”
4. He will bring you great joy and gladness!
5. Many will refoice at his birth!
6. He will be great in the Lord’s sight!
7. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink.
8. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.
9. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.
10. He will go on before the LORD, in the spirit and power of Elijah!
11. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous
12. He will make ready a people prepared for the LORD!
It is like a check list for Zechariah. I wonder if he did do this. Check off each of these promises as they were fulfilled in John’s life. As I wrote out these spoken promises Gabriel evangelized into Zechariah’s life that day beside the alter of incense, I just want to go, “WOW!!!!!!” Obviously I read these promises from this backside of history, after they all came to be. I turn to Matthew chapter 3 and I see every single one of these words came to fulfillment in John’s life!
What on earth makes me question if God’s Promises will ever be broken in my life?
The thing that inspires me in Zechariah’s character, after he entered the world of silence, Zechariah held onto the promises he heard from Gabriel while he still had his hearing. His disability only enhanced his grip on the promises. Even after he recieved them, Zechariah was still faithful to complete his service to God.
“When time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant…” Luke 1:23-24.
Zechariah didn’t take the fulfillment of the promise into his own hands and timing. He had been changed by the receiving of the promise and he knew now to leave the timing to God. He stayed faithful to his service in the Temple of the Lord.
Somehow he was able to translate to his wife what had happened to him behind that curtain to the Holy Place. She knew to name the child John. Truly it was unheard of to name a child anything other than a family name. No one in either Elizabeth or Zechariah’s family tree was named John. God had been gracious to her and Zechariah. He had shown them favor. Zechariah had been so changed by his encounter with God that day in the temple, he was able to inspire his wife into believing in the promise despite his speech impediment!
That is what we do when we have God’s Words implanted into our core, into our heart, into our belief system. We are given a power to inspire many to believe in the PROMISES OF GOD!!!!
I challenge each of us this Advent Season;
Get alone with God
Let Him speak a promise to you from His Word
THEN HOLD ONTO THAT PROMISE FOR, I don’t know, FOR FOREVER!!!!!