Zechariah & Elizabeth Draft 2
Names can influence who we are—how we’re treated by the world around us. I recently read about a man named José who couldn’t get a job interview until he misspelled his name on an application. When he accidentally wrote his name as Joe, he finally got an interview.
Names can influence our behavior. If you don’t think that’s true, ask any man who just started going by the name “Grandpa.” Bring coffee cup that says, “New Grandpa”
Names in the Bible have great significance. The naming of a child is not only meant to identify the individual—it also carries with it destiny, character trait, and rich symbolic meaning. Video: Zechariah & ElizabethHave you ever doubted God?Have you ever doubted God's word?When Elizabeth read the words, “We will be a son…he will be like Elijah...” What ran through your mind and heart as you saw Elizabeth's face and heard her weeping for joy?"I can't wait to tell my cousin Mary"Remember a time when you had good news, news so good you just couldn't wait to tell someone? What was it?Before Zechariah shares with Elizabeth the new name of their promised child, everyone assumes that the naming of this firstborn son would follow Jewish tradition, calling him Zechariah, after his father. However, this special child, who fulfilled prophecy and extended hope, would be given another name: “His name is John.” Every name in this little family has rich significance that shapes our story of hope and expectation. Zechariah means “The LORD remembers.” God did indeed remember his promises and the prayers of his servant Zechariah. Elizabeth means “God is my oath.” God did indeed made an oath to his servant Elizabeth. God sent an angel—a messenger—to share words of assurance to Zechariah in the temple. Pay close attention to the truth that the promise of God has power all by itself. Even if no one believes God’s word to Zechariah and Elizabeth, HIS has power, and is sealed by God’s unbreakable oath or promise that would come to fruition through Elizabeth, which, of course, was fulfilled when John was born. And John’s name means “God has been gracious” more gracious they could fully know or see, as only the cross, and the empty tomb of the Son of God would bring to them, us and the all the world. While we are 2000 years removed in time, and 6000 miles away from that place where all of this happens our stories truly come together with Zechariah’s story. HOW? Like Elizabeth and Zechariah who both struggled to believe the Lord's great promises
We struggle to believe the Lord’s “great” promises.
We struggle to believe the Lord’s “great” promises.
Even the best of the Lord's prophets struggled. Isaiah, who was considered by many to be the greatest of the Lord's prophets, spent His life preaching to the southern Kingdom, Judah, calling them to repentance. Toward the end of his life, this was his question for the Lord:
ESVWho has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
Our stories intersect with theirs when, like them, we find ourselves questioning the Lord's great promises, wondering how His promises that seem too good can possibly be true. And to our questioning hearts the LORD speaks His Word of assurance,
ESVFor nothing will be impossible with God.”
Why do we question the Lord's great promises?Do we question the LORD’S power because of our weakness? Live any length of time and you discover rather quickly there are so many things in your life you simply cannot change or control. Discovering our limitations when we face matters beyond our control is the daily reminder of our need for someone greater than ourselves to step in and takeWhat things in your life do you wish you could change? (but they are beyond your ability, your assets, and control?)When we find ourselves in these places or circumstances we really have only a couple of options, We can take matters into our own hands.Or we can turn our matters over to the LORD our God and wait in silence before the LORD. Waiting is hard. Waiting requires patience. Waiting requires us to submit to something or someone.At least that's what Zechariah found out.(waiting to to see His promises unfold before our eyes. )
ESVHumble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
The Lord humbled Zechariah in the Temple but later he exalted him.
ESVBe still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
For the entire time of the pregnancy, Zechariah was silent, still before his wife, his neighbors, and before the Lord. His only choice (and ours is often the same) is to wait. To wait for the Lord to unfold his promises, reveal his power, and pour out his grace.
ESV“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Zechariah kind of gets a raw deal here. Gabriel appears and says, “You’re going to be a daddy.” Zechariah ASKS, “How can this be? I’m an old man.” What Zechariah doesn’t realize at the time, is that, in questioning his own limitations he ultimately is questioning God’s power and His promises. Where upon Gabriel says, “Fine, you don’t get to speak until the baby is born.” When you think about it, that’s one huge time-out God gave Zechariah. If you’re a parent you’ve probably put your kids in the corner or sent them to their rooms for five minutes or so. For a kid, that five minutes is an eternity. Zechariah got nine months. So, in the time outs of life, what should happen to us? What should times of waiting produce in our lives? What changes should they bring about in our hearts? What should happen to our faith?If all of God’s words can and should be believed to come true in their appropriate time, then, waiting is a critical part of our faith. Let’s remind ourselves, from the very beginning, God has been authoring a story that leads to salvation, deliverance, and rescue for all people who will hear his voice and trust His Word and follow Him in obedience that comes from faith. This is what Christmas is about. It is about the advent—or the arrival—of God. Christmas is ALL about God following through on his promise and oath to bring a Deliverer—a Messiah. He’s bringing a people who are in darkness into a new day of marvelous light. This is not only Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayer that that the angel mentions in —this is also the prayer that the people of God had been praying for ages. Certainly Zechariah and Elizabeth had been praying not only for the birth and advent of the Messiah for their people, but they had also been praying for the birth and advent of a child of their own. God was about to answer both prayers through a faithful, married couple who were advanced in years—just as Abraham and Sarah had been so long before. We ask, “Why God, why?” a lot. Seems like even when we put our faith in God’s plan, we still say, “When God When?” Sometimes our question is not will it be, but when will it be?7 times the OT the prophets ask, “How long, O LORD...”The very nature of that question reveals our sinful nature, which doesn’t want to wait on God’s timing and His plans, which are always on time and perfectly executed. Simeon is told to sit in front of the temple and wait, because eventually he will see the baby born to be the Messiah. Elizabeth and Sarah had to wait to have children until they were old women. Can you imagine running after a five-year-old when you’re one hundred? Tom Petty sang: The waiting is the hardest part. Every day you see one more card. You take it on faith. You take it to the heart. The waiting is the hardest part. Unlike Zechariah’s Old Testament counterpart of Abraham, Zechariah did not believe in in the same way that Abraham did. (Cf. ; ; ; ; .) Instead, Zechariah asked for a sign, and the angel Gabriel gave him one he would not soon forget. He silenced Zechariah—Zechariah lost the ability to speak until after the birth of his son. This made it impossible for Zechariah to perform the closing prayer of blessing over the people gathered outside the temple who waited for him to fulfill his priestly duties. After the priest finished placing the incense on the altar and offered his prayers inside the temple, he would then exit and pronounce the famous prayer of blessing and benediction over the people that Aaron had spoken at the conclusion of : The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace (). After Zechariah received the message and sign of silence from Gabriel, he made his way back out to a crowd of people who were getting antsy about how long he’d been inside. The concern and impatience of the crowd is conveyed in : And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. God finally Zechariah’s silence before Him, when He opened his mouth to speak, it would be the WORD’S of the LORD, “his name is John.” God has been gracious. That’s our story, too! For the LORD has been gracious to us in person of our LORD, the fulfillment of His greatest promise to us, A savior from Sin, and Savior from the power of Satan, and a Savior from death, who promises us life everlasting in His name.