Zechariah and Elizabeth. These two became the parents of John the Baptist. But we probably most usually remember Zechariah as the priest who was struck dumb in the temple because he doubted the angel’s message!
Luke introduces us to the couple: Both are from the priestly clan of Aaron. This is a godly man and a godly woman. They are obedient to every regulation of God’s commands. But something has happened. They have spent their entire married lives longing for children. It hasn’t happened, and now it’s too late. All those years, Elizabeth and Zechariah have lived with disappointment and shame. Of course, they believed God could do miracles – the Scriptures are full of God’s miracles. But it’s one thing to believe that God can and does do miracles – and quite another to believe He can do something impossible for me.
Zechariah had given up hope. That was being realistic.
I think these two shared – either together or individually – a huge sense of failure. They were the ‘childless couple’ of the village. And I suspect that, in the culture at that time, others regarded them - either secretly with hushed voices, or openly - as a couple whom God had cursed and shamed.
So, when the angel appears to Zechariah, his message touches a very deep black hole in Zechariah. His disappointment and his sense of failure have gone so deep. He can’t believe that God could do that miracle for him.
I wonder why the angel makes Zechariah dumb after that encounter in the temple. It might have looked like a punishment, and maybe it was. But, in that time, in his silence, I believe God was able to minister hope and healing into Zechariah.
This story of Zechariah and Elizabeth is a story of God’s healing of despair and disappointment in two people who, despite their crushing emotional anguish, still keep walking in obedience to their God. And, in those months when Zachariah was dumb, God did something special for both him and Elizabeth: healing their marriage; healing their deep pain, and renewing their relationship together when all seemed dead and ended. These were two faithful people who had gone on living lives of obedience, despite their sorrow.
Aren’t they an encouragement to us? Whatever our disappointment, God sees our obedient hearts and faithful lives. He can heal disappointment. He can bring joy – in His timing, and His way.
And long, long before the angel appeared to Zechariah in the temple, God had picked out these two to be the parents for John the Baptist. And they were faithful.
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