November 29: Read Luke 1:5-22 NLT
Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, were on a painful personal journey. In all their years of marriage, they had not produced a child, and now, in their old age, it seemed impossible. To be without a child, specifically a son, in their culture, was particularly shameful. Many felt it was a curse and showed that your sin was great, since God did not grant you a child. It also meant there was no heir to inherit and no family to pass on tradition and the family name.
One day, while performing his priestly duty of burning incense at the altar in the temple, an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah and delivered some good news that Elizabeth would bring forth a son and he would be named John. The appearance of an angel is its own great miracle, but God had to orchestrate all the pieces to come together for this part of Zechariah’s journey. You see, Zechariah was one of 18,000 Levitical priests at the time, and of those numbers, lots were cast to determine who would serve in the Holy Place for a week at a time. Zechariah made it through those 18,000 men and through the casting of lots to have the opportunity to serve in this very special task. God was guiding Zechariah’s journey, positioning him into the place and the time that he would be most open to hearing the news of such a miracle, and to prepare for the next part of his journey.
What was Zechariah’s reaction to these miraculous words given by a God who positions himself to be best heard? Fear, and then doubt. Even in the impossible of how the message was orchestrated to be delivered, he lacked belief. That unbelief, even in the face of the miracle of the delivery of the news, marked a new road in his journey. Gabriel, the angel, declared that Zechariah would be unable to speak until the child was born. For nine months he was unable to convey with words what he experienced, and the joy and excitement he must have felt for the impending birth of his child.
Zechariah’s current spiritual journey was one of quiet reflection and anticipation. He traveled from pain and loss to fear and doubt, and finally to faith and belief in what only God can do. At the naming of his son, 8 days after his birth, Zechariah grabbed a writing tool and indicated that “his name shall be John” and at once, his “mouth was opened, and his tongue set free.”
What journey will you undertake this Advent season? Will it lead to deeper relationship with Christ through a greater willingness to believe in God’s words and commands? Will you seek quiet time to reflect and commune with God?
Prayer: God, I believe. Help me in my unbelief.
Zechariah traveled from pain and loss to fear and doubt to faith and belief. Have you experienced a painful personal journey?
Did you receive a miracle on your journey? What was your reaction?
Where do you find yourself during this advent season? Pain and loss? Fear and doubt? Faith and belief? This is a wonderful time to share what God has done in your life?