<%image(20051206-temple.jpg|127|83|temple)%> If my current series of blog titles has helped anyone so far, it has at least helped me. It’s not enough to anticipate Christmas. That word has WAY too much baggage associated with it (as well as presents, cookies, songs that have already been played too much, and egg nogg). To deliberately wait for the day on which we remember the birth of Jesus creates a sharper image that is far more relevant. Last year’s presents came and some were used well, some broke, and some are MIA. But Jesus is worth finding because no one can lose him and he cannot lose his own. For all who trust in him there is the assurance that he will stick with them. Isn’t that a wonderful, refreshing gift???
While we anticipate the birth of Jesus, I wanted to look at Zechariah (Luke 1 NET Bible). He may have had one of the most interesting waits for Jesus, even if he was far more focused on the birth of his son, John. Zechariah was in the temple performing his priestly function on behalf of the people, and then Gabriel appears and says that his prayers have been answered: he and Elizabeth will have a son. And to top it off, his son will be a prophet. That is not a bad deal. First of all, he was there on behalf of God’s people, not seeking his own benefit, and God blesses him personally. Secondly, every respectable Jew of his time looked up to Elijah, so I would bet that any comparison of your son to Elijah would have been regarded as a compliment.
Of course a member of the heavenly host making a personal appearance and causing his knees to wobble wasn’t quite enough. Zechariah does what many of us would do, will do, and have done: he doubts, and asks for assurance. And that’s where the story gets really interesting. . .
Check this out:
“How can I be sure of this? For I am an old man, and my wife is old as well.” 1:19 The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 1:20 And now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will be silent, unable to speak, until the day these things take place.”
That gives me chills. God is so funny. You want assurance, eh? Well you won’t be able to ask any more stupid questions like that until this happens!!! That is classic.
So Zechariah had nine months to ponder his stupid question. I can only imagine what went through his head. If God decided to treat all of us that way I imagine that Sundays would be really, really quiet.
The question that presses me is, “What did he think about for nine months???” Every day his encounter with Gabriel was right there. How many times did his mouth begin to move before he realized nothing was happening? If anything, this story is a great reminder of how God deals with our doubts. Do you doubt? OK, sit in the corner, get quiet, and wait. Zechariah’s nine month time out apparently did wonders. When John was circumcised, his tongue was loosed, and he began praising God. Ah, the benfits of prolonged periods of silence.