December 21, 2016

Zechariah’s Song of Faith

“Now his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: ‘Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David, As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began, That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.’” Luke 1:67-79 (NKJV) 

The third song of Christmas that Luke records is called “The Benedictus” from the first words of the song, “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel….” It was spoken by a priest who struggled with doubt.  His name was Zechariah.  While on duty in the Temple, an angel appeared to him and told him that he and his wife would have a son that would prepare the way for the coming Messiah.  Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, had prayed for years to have a child. Though, given their age, they had given up on that dream from ever becoming reality.  But, what seems impossible with men is possible with God!  What’s remarkable to me is how Zechariah responded to the angel’s message.  Unlike Mary who accepted the angel’s story despite how impossible it sounded, Zechariah expressed his disbelief in verse 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.” The exchange between the angel and Zechariah is comical.

“The angel answered, ‘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.  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 proper time.’” Luke 1:19-20 (NIV)

Here was a priest and a father-to-be who couldn’t speak!  He remained speechless until his son was born. When Zechariah wrote down on a tablet what they would name their child, his tongue was loosed and he sang a song of praise about the destiny of his son and the Messiah to come in Luke 1:67-79.

I love this story because I can relate to the doubts of this priest.  Yet, despite his doubt, God would fulfill His purposes.  It gives me hope.  Even pastors struggle with doubts, especially when prayers go unanswered and dreams begin to fade.  If you can relate, be encouraged, and remain faithful to what God has called you to do. Zechariah’s song of faith teaches us that, even in silence, God is at work. Let God be God and put your trust in Him to accomplish His purpose in His time and His way.