We read yesterday about how a large angel had just told Zacharias that he and Elizabeth were going to have a baby; the baby was to be named John (the Lord is gracious); he was to be set apart for special service to the Lord; he was to prepare a nation for the coming of the Christ.
Wow. That is a lot of heavy stuff. I can’t even imagine how I would have responded in that situation. I hope that I would have handled it better than Zacharias. Instead of simply believing the angel and taking God at His word, Zacharias asked for a sign that it was really going to happen. Really? A large heavenly being is in the room with you and you ask for another sign? Who knows? Maybe I would have done the same thing. Here is how the angel Gabriel responded: (Catherine’s version)
“Hey Dude! I’m Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God. In angel terms, I’m one of the top dogs. God specifically sent me to you, Zach, to bring you this exciting, world-altering news! And yet you ask me to give you another sign? Well, here’s your other sign. You will be mute and not able to speak until that baby is born because you did not believe my words.”
I think this time of muteness was intended to give Zacharias some thinking/reflective time. Maybe it was kind of like grown up “time out.”
The story continues that the worshippers and priests were getting restless outside. They needed to get blessed so that they could get on with their day. Finally Zacharias came out, ran around in circles and flapped his arms like a crazy person (at least that’s how I imagine it having happened) and they perceived he had a vision.
As soon as he could, Zacharias ran home to tell Elizabeth (more running in circles and flapping his arms). Sure enough, Elizabeth became pregnant in her old age. However, her response was much different. She said, “The Lord has done this for me. He has shown me favor and taken away my disgrace.”
In reality, God had never been withholding blessing from Elizabeth and Zacharias. He had big plans for them. God was waiting for just the right time to give them a special blessing: the birth of a child who would prepare the world for the coming of the long-awaited Messiah.
This story is a case where their huge disappointment was God’s special appointment.
Here is the cool thing about Zacharias and Elizabeth: they didn’t give up on God even when their most heartfelt desire didn’t happen. They kept following God. They kept seeking God. They kept obeying God’s rules for living life (His commandments). They kept praying and believing in the living, loving God even when it appeared that God was not listening.
I have to pause and ask myself and ask the Father, “God, have I been faithful like Zacharias and Elizabeth even when it doesn’t seem like you are listening? Have I continued to seek you and obey you even when I am disappointed? Or have I tried to fix it myself and answer my prayers by myself?”