Read His Words Before Ours!
The lot has been cast; I am the chosen priest to burn the incense in the temple.
What an honor!
I love serving the Lord and have always taken the entrustment of priestly role seriously. There is a humility required that draws me closer to Him and challenges me to honor Him with my actions.
I made sure all my priestly attire rested properly in place, no stains or blemishes marked it. I spent time purifying myself – mind, body, and soul – before approaching the altar of incense. The actions were a routine I’d walked through before, but even then, the holiness of the movements humbled me.
Who am I to serve the Lord of Lords?
I approached the altar of incense with reverence, focusing on the faithfulness and intentionality of the Lord. His parameters were specific, and the expectations were high, but the palpable holiness I felt in this moment only motivated me to honor Him more.
Suddenly I was not alone in the space.
An angel of the Lord stood beside the table. How I knew it was an angel was slightly beyond me, but fear coursed through me due to the heavenly presence.
Why was he here? What had I done?
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.
There will be joy and delight for you, and many will rejoice at his birth.
For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb.
He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.”
The adrenaline coursed through my body and I fought to comprehend what He had just said to me. “How can I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.”
The moment the words were out of my mouth I wished I could retract them. The angel’s response only confirmed my desire to have thought through my words before speaking.
“I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God,
and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news.
You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”
Several long, yet joyous, months later the proper time approached. In a few moments, our baby boy, our miraculous gift, would be officially named. Over the months, I had replayed my conversation with Gabriel and thought through what I wished my response would have been that day:
“May the Lord be glorified. The God of Abraham who gave Sarah the ability to conceive, is great and powerful. When He speaks, all of creation responds. He is entrusting us with John, and we seek His wisdom and strength in raising him.”
That had become my prayer over the months of silence.
The Lord was the only one to whom I could speak and know my voice was heard.
How many times had I talked to Him about His faithfulness and ability
to bring to pass what He has promised?
How many times had the silence been a reminder of His power and sovereignty?
Ever since Elizabeth told me she was pregnant, I dreamed of the moment I would be able to speak.
To look at my wife and say her name again.
To look at my son and call him John.
He had arrived eight days ago. Elizabeth had called him John the first moment she held him in her arms. I had nodded my agreement and waited for the words to flow.
The silence continued.
Now neighbors and relatives were gathered, all talking about how the child would be named after his now mute father.
I shook my head and yet again Elizabeth spoke for me,
“No. He will be called John.”
Great argument arose from those surrounding us since John was not a family name.
I motioned for a tablet to write on while they argued. With great joy and determination, I wrote four words on the tablet and showed it to the crowd.
His. Name. Is. John.
In that moment, the floodgates released as my faith was manifested before witnesses.
The silence ended, and with it I proclaimed all that was within me.
No doubts and no fears; Yahweh was trustworthy!
Sometimes it is in the waiting to speak that the power to believe rises up.
As I spoke, watching the reactions around me, the words of Gabriel whispered in my ear:
“Many will rejoice at his birth.”
Perhaps John’s legacy will be something like my silent lesson.
Silence before a proclamation that would break all expectation.
A proclamation delivered in pure, solid faith of the Almighty.
A proclamation that would point unequivocally to the coming Messiah.
The proclamation John would make, again just as Gabriel had said,
“to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.”
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!