“You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” Luke 1:14
When Zechariah was chosen by lot (which is somewhat like drawing your name from a hat) to enter the temple and offer incense on the altar, he had no inkling of what would come. He was performing his service as a priest, something which he did faithfully for many years. In fact he and Elizabeth were both known as righteous people, fulfilling the requirements of the covenant. They had prayed and asked for a child, but had only experienced barrenness well into the end of their fruitful years.
At the end of their hope, God showed up.
The angel, Gabriel, gave Zechariah the word from God. But instead of erupting in praise, Zechariah broke open with all the doubt that disappointment had created within him. The word of the Lord challenged Zechariah and drew out of him everything he’d stuffed away over the years; the doubt and discouragement from unanswered prayer came bubbling up to the surface.
God was not surprised. He never is. God’s Word often brings offense and objection to the surface. It draws out the hidden hurt and disillusionment, any and every challenge that would keep the seed of truth from taking root. God in His mercy silences Zechariah. He is not being punished; he is being imprisoned by God’s mercy. He will be unable to speak any opposition over the events to come. Doubt and disappointment will not be given an opportunity to breach the promise given.
While Elizabeth is pregnant for nine months with John, Zechariah becomes pregnant with hope. In his prison of silence, his heart is renewed again toward God. He ponders the words of the angel and reads the scriptures to which they refer. This son will not only bring joy for Zechariah and Elizabeth, it will be a long awaited promise for all the earth.
It is hard to have a perspective on what God is doing with the whole of our life. Especially when things don’t turn out the way we expected. Let God’s words to you pull out the hurt and disappointment. Be imprisoned again in hope.
When Zechariah’s silence was broken, he prophesied the hope of salvation, the goodness of God and His faithfulness to his people. Let us hide away in hope again that our heart would be filled to overflowing with the goodness of God, the power of His salvation, and His faithfulness toward all those who hope in Him.