Zechariah’s words after the birth of John Baptist are full of promise. In this post, Stephanie draws some conclusions from this famous passage. This is the eleventh instalment in Stephanie’s series entitled “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Read Part 1 here.
In my previous post, we talked about how Mary responded to her cousin Elizabeth’s declaration in Luke 1:42: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”
Today let’s consider Zechariah’s response to the birth of his son, the forerunner of the Messiah. Remember, Zechariah hadn’t been able to speak from the time he learned he would have a son until the time he indicated the baby’s name was to be John. Because he and his wife were well past childbearing years, he hadn’t believed the angel who told him they would have a child. (There are consequences for not taking God at His word, but that’s not the emphasis of today’s devotional.)
Let’s read Zechariah’s words in Luke 1:68-79(ESV):
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered 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 before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
A Lot To Say
If I hadn’t been able to speak for the best parts of a year, I wonder what the first words out of my mouth would be. For those of you who know me, you know the idea of me not speaking for nine months is beyond comprehension. I hold onto my dear friend’s statement, “Yes, you talk a lot, but it’s because you have a lot to say.” She meant that I have things of value to say, and I pray that this is the case.
However, I’m certain that 2,000 years from now people won’t be marveling at my words and considering how they apply to their lives. (I believe the Lord Jesus will return long before then, but that’s not what today’s devotional is about either.)
Zechariah’s Amazing Words
And here we are thinking of Zechariah’s amazing words. Like Mary’s response to Elizabeth, Zechariah’s praises focused on the Lord. He overflowed with wonder and thanksgiving. And as excited as he was about the birth of his son, Zechariah knew that it would be John’s responsibility to direct attention away from himself. John was “the prophet of the Most High.” He would “go before the Lord to prepare his ways.”
And of the coming Messiah, Zechariah declared these beautiful words: “You will go before the Lord … to give knowledge of salvation … in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death …” As much as I’m sure this man loved his son, he focused on the Lord and His greatness, on His plans and purposes, and on His blessings.
Beloved Gift Of God
We named our first-born David Nathaniel, which means “beloved gift of God.” I had wanted to be a mom since I was a child and he was the first fulfillment of that dream. He was—and is—a gift from God. The Lord also blessed us with a second son and a daughter. It is my prayer that the Lord would have His way in each of their lives.
As a labour doula, I offer emotional and physical support to moms as they give birth to their precious wee ones. And each time I witness the birth of a baby boy or girl, I marvel at what God has done. I offer up a prayer that the Lord would have His way in the life of that child.
Raising Children Is Hard Work
How do you feel when you look at your son or daughter? Raising children is hard work and sometimes we face sorrow and heartache along the way. Sometimes we feel ill-equipped to do a good job. When we consider the state of the world, we may become fearful for them, wondering what their lives will be like.
We must deliberately turn our thoughts toward God. Zechariah knew, at least in part, what the Lord had in mind for his son. We may or may not have any idea what lies ahead for our sons and daughters. But we can know this: God is trustworthy. We can confidently surrender our children to Him. We can ask Him to be honoured and glorified in and through them—and us. We can ask Him to work out His plans and purposes.
When we think of our children, may our hearts overflow with praise and thanksgiving. We may even want to write a letter to each of them, something they can read years from now. If they are walking with the Lord, it can encourage them to continue to do so. If they are not, it can serve as a challenge for them to seek Him.
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Images courtesy of:
Announcement To Zechariah – Domenico Ghirlandaio
Child – Anissa Thompson