Sitting in the church nursery, my heart ached for truth. Sunday school was taking place around the corner, and I was missing it. Left to my thoughts and the sounds of a toddler playing and baby cooing, I opened my Bible fully expecting nothing in return. But God’s Word never returns void, and sometimes five minutes is all it takes for Him to lift the weight of sin and extend grace and mercy to a weary soul.
As I journey through a difficult season and look ahead, all I can see are all the ways God is not going to provide. I can’t see how He can possibly give me the desires of my heart. I’ve been mad and frustrated with God at my unfulfilled longings. I have been carrying around the burden of my lack of faith.
Luke begins by bringing us into the presence of Zechariah, the priest. The angel, Gabriel, tells him his prayer has been heard. Elizabeth will bear a child and his name will be John. Zechariah’s son will be great and will prepare the way for the Lord. Yet, Zechariah lacked faith. He did not believe the words of Gabriel. As a result, Zechariah was stricken mute, unable to speak until the day the message was fulfilled.
I want to share with you four lessons from the life of Zechariah.
4 Lessons from the Life of Zechariah
1. There are consequences for our sin.
And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time. ~Luke 1:20
As I read the narrative of Zechariah’s lack of faith, I was reminded that our sins have consequences. Zechariah lost the blessing of speech as a result of his sin. My own sin has consequences. I need grace to turn.
2. Our sin does not thwart God’s plan.
After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people. ~Luke 1:24-25
Even though Zechariah did not believe the words of Gabriel, the messenger of the Lord, God’s plan did not cease to exist. He still allowed Elizabeth to become pregnant and bear the son who would pave the way for His Son.
Even though I lack faith and shake my fist at God, God is sovereign and His will prevails. He doesn’t need me, but He wants to use me, and as I break the chains of my sinful longings, I can be a part of His greater purpose. God still works for my good and for His glory.
3. God’s discipline has a beginning and an end.
And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. ~Luke 1:63-64
Once the purpose of the discipline had been worked in Zechariah’s life, the consequence was lifted. Zechariah did not stay mute forever.
Sometimes the trial seems never ending. But as I look back over my life, I can see the clear hand of discipline lifted time and time again. We can say with the Psalmist, “The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death” (Psalm 118:18).
4. God’s discipline is meant to draw us nearer to God.
And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people…” ~Luke 1:67-68
After more than nine months of silence, the discipline of the Lord lifted, and instead of complaining against the Father, Zechariah blessed Him. God’s discipline is meant to draw us nearer to Him, not push us away. God disciplines us so that we may share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).
As I read this account, I identified with Zechariah and conviction set in. My heart was humbled as the truth of what I was reading enveloped my soul.
These four truths shattered my pride and reminded me of the love of my Savior. The baby we remember this Christmas season did not stay a baby. He came and conquered sin, defeating death, and now stands as mediator before God my judge.
As I closed my Bible and my toddler asked for a snack, I repented of my lack of faith and my self-suficient pride. I asked Jesus to take my sins and wash me clean. May the trials of this season draw me ever closer to God my Savior.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. ~Hebrews 12:3