• P. Frank

Gabriel Visits Zechariah

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have no arms or legs? I don’t mean that your arms and legs are paralyzed, I mean they are missing. Can you even imagine going through your everyday life with that obstacle? If you lost your arms and legs and then someone told you that you would do great things with that, would you believe them? Nicholas Vujicic was born without arms and legs. As you can imagine, he was bullied and picked on growing up. He was depressed and suicidal. However, he had something, rather someone, in his corner the whole time: Jesus Christ.

Nicholas persevered through his life’s obstacles and is now an evangelist, author, musician, and actor. He is married with children. And he started an international nonprofit ministry called “Life Without Limbs” to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to others. What an amazing testimony! Makes me feel like I’m barely doing anything to help my neighbor as we are commanded to do. How does it make you feel? It’s never too late to start. Nicholas is quoted as saying, “If God can use a man without arms and legs to be His hands and feet, then He will certainly use any willing heart!”

“In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And 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 the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.’” (Luke 1:5–17).

Wow, talk about a huge opportunity to be used by the Lord! Zechariah was not only told that his old, barren wife would give birth to a son, but that his son would be John the Baptist who would pave the way for Jesus Christ to come and save us from our sins! First off, it would be a lot to take in if an angel of the Lord was suddenly visible and standing next to you. It would be even more to receive that message. How do you think you would handle a message like that from an angel of the Lord? I would like to think that I would be faithful and believe. If I ever receive a message from an angel of the Lord, I hope I am faithful and not fearful.

“And Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.’ And the angel answered him, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.’ And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, ‘Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.’” (Luke 1:18–25).

Zechariah initially doubted God’s Word through the angel Gabriel and God punished him for it. However, notice how God did not remove His promise or plan for Zechariah and Elizabeth based on his doubt. God was going to use their son to baptize His own Son in the Jordan River. God was going to use their son to prepare many Jews for the coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ. So instead of removing the blessing from Zechariah for his doubt, God instead took his voice from him. But Zechariah would not remain a mute forever, just until God’s Will for John’s miraculous birth was completed.

“Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, ‘No; he shall be called John.’ And they said to her, ‘None of your relatives is called by this name.’ And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, ‘What then will this child be?’ For the Hand of the Lord was with him.” (Luke 1:57–66).

Zechariah’s faith was lacking when he was first visited by the angel Gabriel in the temple. However, a little more than nine months of being a mute did the trick. Because Zechariah wasn’t able to speak, he probably did a whole lot of thinking, reading God’s Word, and praying. He most likely prayed multiple times a day for God to take his silence away, but God had already told him when that would happen. This period of silence allowed Zechariah’s faith in God to build to monumental levels. His faith built so much that when God allowed him to speak once again, he immediately shouted his praises to Him!

“And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, ‘Blessed be 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 from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath that 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 our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’” (Luke 1:67–79).

When God talks, we need to listen. When God commands, we need to obey. Listening and obeying our Lord fills our lives with His blessings even to the point of overflowing. The overflow of blessings is what He then uses in our lives to bless others with His holy name. Jesus did not come just for the Israelites, He came for all of us. His blessings upon us are to be blessings to everyone around us. Who are we to keep that to ourselves? All glory be to God!