I am going to write a series of posts about Christmas for the next seven days. Each day will focus on specific people who were part of the Christmas story. The Christmas story is the one recorded in the Bible which is the true reason for Christmas.
We will start with Zecharias. Zecharias is like a prologue to the birth of Christ. Chronologically he came first, and his story gives us the introduction into the topic – the promised Messiah is coming.
When Zecharias was performing his responsibility at the altar of incense, the angel Gabriel gave him the news that he would have a son, who would fulfil a special purpose prophesied in the Old Testament. This son would be the forerunner for the Messiah which means that he would tell others that the Messiah was coming (Luke 1:17). Zecharias expressed doubts about how this could happen to old people, and Gabriel told Zecharias that he would be mute until after the child was born. Eight days after the child’s birth at his circumcision, God returned Zecharias’s voice. Zecharias did not speak about sorrow or anger about being mute for all of those months. He didn’t speak about the greatness of his son’s role in the coming Messiah. He spoke about the Messiah. What he said is recorded in the form of a poem, which seems to indicate that this was a well-thought out speech.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of David His servant—
As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—
Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES,
And FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US;
To show mercy toward our fathers,
And to remember His holy covenant,
The oath which He swore to Abraham our father,
To grant us that we, being rescued 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 on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS;
To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,
Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
TO SHINE UPON THOSE
WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.
How surprised the people attending the circumcision must have been to hear a speech like this! What a blessing they received if they listened! For consider this, if this child was to be the forerunner of the Messiah, then the Messiah must be coming soon! As Zechariah reminded them, the Messiah would bring salvation and lead them into the way of peace.
What should be our response to this story? One is to study the Scripture. The words that are all capitals indicate portions that are quoted in the Old Testament. The NASB does this to help New Testament readers see easily the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies. This also shows the value of studying the whole Bible to get the full picture of God’s truth.
Another response should be our own waiting for the coming of the Lord. Jesus was born and fulfilled His purpose on earth, but He will come again.
I think one last response on our part should be to not doubt God’s Word. God may not make us mute, like He did Zecharias; but we will suffer in some way if we choose to doubt God. There will be parts of the Bible that we don’t understand. Don’t doubt them; just ask God to help you to understand. There will be things that seem hard or impossible to do; just ask God to show you how to do them or to give you the strength to do them. He wants us to take Him seriously and to give Him the benefit of the doubt. He really wants to help us to do His will.