Our friends were on a date celebrating a few years of marriage when the husband said to his wife, “You’re still pretty.” He meant to say that she was as beautiful as the day they met. Instead, when he used the word “still”, he inferred a little something had been lost a little along the way, but he could still find beauty. They still joke about it to this day because she knew what he meant, but it just didn’t come out right.
Has something ever come out of your mouth before you took time to think it through?
In Luke 1, Zechariah has this kind of moment with an angel! In Luke 1:13-17, the angel Gabriel comes to Zechariah with a mouthful of promises.
- Your prayers have been answered!
- Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son.
- You will name him John.
- He will be a joy and delight to you.
- Many will rejoice at his birth.
- He will be set apart.
- He will be born with the Holy Spirit living in him.
- He will bring the people of Israel back to the Lord.
- He will prepare the people’s hearts for the Lord.
Can you imagine Zechariah standing before Gabriel? He's probably terrified and overwhelmed trying to comprehend it all. I can imagine he had a hard time making it past the words, “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son”, considering they were too old to have kids. (Luke 1:13). Did any of the other promises matter if they couldn't conceive, much less give birth? Did Gabriel know his timing was off?
I can see Zechariah picking his mouth up off the ground as he responded, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is along in years” (Luke 1:18). He probably didn't think this was an unreasonable question. I mean Abraham, Gideon and Hezekiah also had similar responses when God called them. Also, if you read further in Luke 1:34, Mary asks, “How will this be?” But, the angel’s responded differently to Zechariah than everyone else. He took away his ability to speak until John was born at least 9 months later. (Luke 1:19-20, 64)
Why? Well, since I am not God or Gabriel, I don’t know the ultimate answer. But, I can share some things I learned the other day.
Luke 1:6 says Zechariah and Elizabeth were “upright in the sight of God, overseeing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.” Zechariah was a priest and Elizabeth was obviously a godly woman, but if you're a Christian, you know none of us are perfect. Perhaps God still had some preparation to do in their lives before they began the undaunted job of parenting John the Baptist.
Deuteronomy 30:19 says, "I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” When Gabriel came to Zechariah with a list of 9 miracles God wanted to do in his life, Zechariah focused on the one that was humanly impossible. I’m not blaming the guy because I would’ve done the same. But, I have a perspective question for you.
When Zechariah is stricken silent, it was obviously a punishment, but do you think it could've also been a gift in disguise? Could God have been using his silence as a teaching tool?
Maybe he wanted to train Zechariah to choose his words more carefully. Zechariah was about to become the father and discipler of John the Baptist! Imagine the weight of that calling! He was about to raise a child who would soon spend his life giving life to others and ultimately paving the way for Jesus Christ, the ultimate Life-Giver. Look at the prophecies Gabriel gave Zechariah about John’s life. (Luke 1:14-17) Perhaps silence was God’s way of saying to Zechariah, “Your son will do great things, so meditate and prepare your heart for the job you have before you. I told you what your son is called to. Are you ready to raise him in such a way that he can accomplish all that I have for him?"
We will all face trials. The outcome is dependent on how we choose to face them. Will we learn our lesson or resent the discipline? Maybe you’re like me; sometime you choose to learn and others choose frustration. The results of our trials come from whether we choose life or death (Debt 30:19).
Elizabeth gave birth and eight days later the family gathered for the tradition of circumcising and naming their son. When Zechariah wrote John’s name on the tablet, God released his speech. Here were his first words: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel” (John 1:68). I want to be like Zechariah because he chose to learn from God in his silence rather than resent Him for it. Read to the end of the chapter and you will see that Zechariah and Elizabeth raised John well because scripture says he "grew and became strong in spirit.”
I wonder how John the Baptist's story would have played out if Zechariah hadn’t persevered. I wonder how our stories could be different if we choose words of life instead of death. Lord, help us to trust when we’re afraid and don’t understand. Help us to choose your way above ours.
Here are some great verses for further study and memorization: Proverbs 2:1-13
If Thought This was Sweet, Will You Tweet (share)?
- I wonder how our stories could be different if we choose words of life instead of death. http://goo.gl/2BXhSM
- I want to be like Zechariah because he chose to learn from God in his silence rather than resent Him for it. http://goo.gl/2BXhSM
- Has something ever come out of your mouth before you took time to think it through? http://goo.gl/2BXhSM
© 2015 by Sharie King. All rights reserved.