Zechariah is a man of faith. He is a seasoned man of the cloth who serves as one of the Lord’s priests. Daily he can be found reading, praying, teaching, and ministering to God’s people.
Zechariah is a man of weak faith. While serving in the temple, the angel Gabriel appears and delivers the sweetest of news. Zechariah and Elizabeth will finally have their long-awaited and long-prayed-for son. That’s right, though they are both advanced in years and utterly barren, an infant child will soon be in their arms. In addition, this sweet child will be grow to be an incredibly great man in the eyes of God and their neighbors. Yes, their son is predestined to be filled with the Holy Spirit; he is set apart to become the promsed one of old commissioned with heralding the Messiah’s immediate presence. Well, how does Zechariah respond to the glorious angelic apperance and divine declaration? Zechariah “did not believe Gabriel’s words.” (1:20)
Zechariah, the man of weak faith, is graced and blessed by God despite his faltering faith. At this point, some thelogians teach how God takes his blessings, puts them back in his pouch, and heads somewhere else looking for a man or woman of sufficient faith. These same preachers teach how God’s blessings are earned by having worshipers having sufficient faith. Their teaching results in great internal guilt and despair as miracles are not realized and worshipers have only themselves to blame. However, let’s go ahead and be honest; no one has sufficient faith. Everyone doubts God in some way or another. Everyone disbelieves, to some degree or another, God’s words, warnings, promises, predictions, wisdom, compassion, presence, or power. However, this is where the good news of God’s unmerited grace comes into play. Because God is compassionate, loving, kind, merciful and gracious, he blesses his people despite their faithlessness. Therefore, Zechariah’s waffling will not change God’s fantastic plan. Despite his lack of trust, he and Elizabeth will still recieve their special son of promise. But this is not the end of the story ….
Zechariah becomes a man of increased faith. God and Gabriel assist Zechariah in having his faith improved. First, God utilizes fatherly discipline and grants Zechariah a muted mouth. For nine months he is unable to speak. At this point, Zechariah surely believes more than he did before. Zechariah, upon leaving the holy place, expresses his trust in God. He goes home, takes his wife in his arms, and expresses physical love to his wife. Whalaa! She conceives and Zechariah’s faith is further increased. As Elizabeth’s older body transitions through the phases of pregnancy, his faith is improved. And nine months later, as the child breaks forth from Elizabeth’s womb, Zechariah uses his restored mouth to express aloud his faith in Yahweh. Zechariah is now a bolder man. Why? Because God has gifted and grown faith within him.
Oh friends, let us give thanks to the Lord for his faithfulness despite our fickel faith. Let us thank him for not turning away when we first refused the Gospel. Let us thank him for answering our prayers though they be filled with double-minded thoughts. He has been so kind to us. He has blessed us. He has graced us, and this despite our distrusting his words, warning, promises, predictions, wisdom, compassion, presence, and/or power. And let us thank him for not leaving us in our faithless state. Let us give him thanks for discipling, disciplining, and developing faith within our heads and hearts. Brothers and sisters, faith is a gift of God. It is a fruit of his Spirit. Have we some faith? Let us be humble. Let us give God praise for his kindness in this regard.
Let us learn from God’s prior faithfulness and ask for grace to trust him more. Let us not be content in our sin. Let us be hungry for increased and improved faith. Let us pray for more Gospel-awareness. Let us beg him for Gospel-wisdom. God can help us. He wants to help us. He will surely help us. Friends, let’s make it easy on him to do his work of discipleship in our lives. Let’s pray today for less sin, less doubt, increased trust. Let’s sing with the hymnest:
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word,
Just to rest upon His promise;
Just to know, Thus saith the Lord.
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
Luke 1:5-22 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.” 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.