Advent 2017: Joy to the World

Day 17: Zechariah Struck Silent

Luke 1:18-25, Genesis 18:9-15, Luke 7:18-28, Romans 4:19-21


I really get Zechariah.

I understand doubt, and can relate to wanting to be absolutely sure of something before I lean on in and believe. Perhaps Zechariah would have been right there with the apostle Thomas, saying, “Unless I put my hands in his sides, and in the nail prints, I will never believe!” (John 20:25). At the time, it probably seemed like good sense to be cautious. “How can I know this?” Zechariah asked the angel. “For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years” (Luke 1:18).

Zechariah’s question makes me wonder what sort of confirmation he wanted. After all, could there be a more sure, concrete sign than a direct word from heaven, delivered by an angel who regularly stands in the presence of God Himself?

Something in our foolish hearts loves to cast about for ways to doubt God. Like Zechariah, we enter into His presence full of petitions, offering prayers and supplications. But then when He answers, we can’t seem to wrap our heads around it. O, we of little faith.

I love the message that Gabriel brings. Zechariah was serving as High Priest, burning incense on the altar. In other words, he was representing all of Israel, offering prayer up for all the people. It was not merely a personal petition that God is fulfilling. Gabriel declares that God has heard Zechariah’s priestly prayers on behalf of all the people, and so his message is one of salvation for all mankind, not just for the son for Zechariah. The promise is earth-shatteringly grand, and Zechariah gets the rich blessing of seeing his own son play a remarkable part. How, indeed, can this be? How could Zechariah comprehend this?

A sign was given to Zechariah: his own muteness. It’s fitting that his human doubts and protests would be silenced, leaving only the enduring promise of God to remain. This is how God makes for Himself “a people prepared” for the coming of salvation (Luke 1:17). Our words, our doubts, our own notions of rationality and caution, are all silenced. And in that silence we wait, as God’s sure promise is fulfilled, as His own Word takes on flesh, and we behold His glory as that of the Father’s only begotten Son, full of grace and truth.

The Lord has done this for me. He has done this for you.

Written by Caleb Faires