Last Sunday, our church viewed this video together during service.
Zechariah’s story is fascinating.
By birth, he was part of Israel’s priesthood. He and his wife Elizabeth, childless in their later years, had no doubt heard comparisons to their great once-childless ancestors Abraham and Sarah. However, it is highly unlikely that anyone expected this couple to be completely like that ancient couple by experiencing a late-life, God-gifted pregnancy. Certainly Zechariah wasn’t expecting such a thing.
Through a seemingly random process, Zechariah was selected to enter the Holy Place. Alone in that sacred space, he had a divine experience in which it was revealed that he and Elizabeth would have a son. And that son would be the forerunner to the Messiah. When Zechariah used his mouth to express doubt, God determined to close it for the next nine months or more. Zechariah was mute, a condition from which he was released only upon John’s birth.
- What might happen within your heart or mind if a nine-month silent retreat were forced upon you?
- What might become clear?
- What convictions might cement themselves?
- If the gift of words was re-given to you, how might you use it?
We read that Zechariah spoke prophetically (Luke 1:67-79), under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He began like this:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.” (ESV)
Another translation (The Voice) says it this way:
“May the Lord God of Israel be blessed indeed! For God’s intervention has begun, and He has moved to rescue us, the people of God.”
Two details from that reading impress me:
INTERVENTION: A&E has aired a fairly successful series by this title. It portrays the stories of families desperate to rescue loved ones from the darkness and destruction of addiction. Intervention is synonymous with interference of a loving sort. It is the willful thrusting of oneself into the life of another, who appears to have neither the ability nor the will to protect himself. Interventions involve helping the helpless. People of strength pull tightly alongside people in struggle. in an effort to save them.
PEOPLE OF GOD: God’s intervention has begun, we are told. Apparently, He is moving to rescue. Explicitly, He is moving to rescue us, the people of God. This sentence contains a vital reminder. Let us never believe the lie that the people of God are those who have no need of rescue. Let us never hold the deception that the people of God are those who — through clear thinking and sharp discipline, and wise choices — have governed their lives so well as to remain in the middle of the narrow way. Let it be forever known: The people of God are most assuredly not those without need of rescue or intervention. Rather, the people of God are those who have experienced intervention. They have tasted deliverance; they have received rescue.
And that’s why every December, such folks have no trouble singing: “Joy to the world. The Lord has come.”