You’re joking, right? Says Zacharias with a hearty laugh.
Now, you may think he is responding to a joke….but it’s anything but a joke. Zacharias is one of the temple priests in Jerusalem. As one of 7,000 priests, he travels to Jerusalem a few times a year and takes his turn living in the temple, carrying out his priestly duties.
One day, as he is burning incense in the inner chamber, the archangel, Gabriel appears beside the alter. Not really a common occurrence while serving in the temple, so Zacharias is caught a bit off-guard.
Gabriel had a message from God for Zacharias and his wife, Elizabeth. They have longed for children but life had not been kind to them in this area. Now they are older….well past child bearing years. Gabriel’s speaks and tells Zacharias they will have a son.
So now you can understand why Zach LOLed at Gabriel’s message. He has forgotten the story of Abraham and Sarah; forgotten that God tends to come in when everything looks hopeless; forgotten that God always makes good on His promises one way or another.
For a temple priest, this behavior is simply not acceptable. Because of his very vocal doubt, Gabriel strikes him deaf and mute, unable to hear and speak until after the baby is born. And that is a promise God keeps as well.
After Zacharias returns home, Elizabeth does conceive just as Gabriel said she would. Elizabeth and Mary, Jesus’s mother, are cousins and when the two pregger women get together to compare nursery room themes, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb jumps when in the presence of Mary’s unborn son.
Three months later a baby boy is born to Elizabeth and Zacharias, and Liz decides (with Gabriel’s prompting) to name him……John.
John? The neighbors and relatives are confused. John isn’t a recorded name in their family. What is she thinking? This son should be named after his father. Puzzled, they look to Zacharias for answers, who immediately grabs his writing tablet and tells everyone, His name is John. The meaning behind the name John is, the Lord is gracious.
Immediately, upon completion of the prophesied baby’s birth and dedication, Zacharias’ voice and hearing is restored.
We know this baby as John the Baptist…a cousin of Jesus who lived in the wilderness and prophesied about the coming Messiah.
Now back to Zacharias. Zach was obviously a man of God. He prayed and tried his best to be a good Jewish man. With his and Elizabeth’s inability to have a child, he brought their petition to God. He continued to pray even as they aged and the idea of having a son began to look completely hopeless. In his heart, he may have simply given up…thinking God simply didn’t care or want him to have a son. His faith had been weakened by year after year of disappointment. This is when Gabriel shows up…to prove that nothing is impossible with God. That in the face of impossible and improbably odds, great things can happen.
But our situations are different, right?
Our situations are impossible to fix.
Our disappointments are too much to overcome.
Our lives are too messy to be straightened out.
Linking up with ABC Wednesday
And with this entry, my ABC-bible style collection is completed.
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