Nearly a year earlier, Zacharias encountered an angel as he burned incense inside the temple. And his unbelief of the things that were spoken to him left him without a voice. During that time, he had plenty of time to watch God’s plan unfold – with or without his faith. And he had time to change his mind.
During the commotion at the naming ceremony of his newborn miracle son, the mute Zacharias wrote down four words that solidified his wife’s decision and fulfilled the prophecy that the angel had told him. His name is John, he wrote. And immediately, as soon as his pen finished writing he recovered his speech and
he praised God
Probably speaking quickly. And loudly. Speaking well of God, all the things that had been stuck inside his mind for all that time. Unable to come out. From the moment he found out that his wife was pregnant, to watching her belly grow and witnessing the holy encounter between Elizabeth and Mary. He had experienced so many Spirit-filled moments, and all of his words were trapped within him. And now? They came spilling out. Giving voice to words that God spoke through the lips of a burning bush that time that Moses allowed his less-than-eloquent speech overpower his faith:
Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the must, the deaf, the seeing or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?
He stops mouths. And He opens them. He closes wombs. And He opens them. And in both cases, He powerfully foretold what He was about to do. For both men, their faith came after. And then they spoke. Oh LORD, let us believe and therefore speak.
It wasn’t until Zacharias had recovered his powerful faith that he also recovered his power of speech. And while the news of the glory of God traveled throughout their town, fear quickly mounted. Similar to the fear that Zacharias experienced when Gabriel appeard to him. A fear rooted in unbelief. Word was traveling quickly of the things that had transpired with this priestly family over the last eight days in that little mountain town. Stories were being told. Everyone was talking about the priest who lost his speech so abruptly. And publicly. And inexplicably. And regained it so surprisingly after his miraculous baby’s conception and birth. And soon, the entire hill country of Judea was discussing it. And fear was powerfully present. Because without faith – when you don’t believe in God as GOD – spiritual encounters can be scary.
without the holy, they’re just ghost stories
The rumors spread far and wide. And everyone who heard it kept it tucked away in their hearts. Making a point to remember it as they pondered it and rolled it all around in their minds. Because something was happening. Something big. Who, exactly was this little baby? And who would he turn out to be as he grew up? Because the hand of the LORD was certainly with him. Nobody could deny that. And it was on him in an extra special way. Just like it was with Joseph – in a way that people recognized. And took notice of. In a way that was preparing him for greatness.
It was also the same way that the hand of the LORD was with David, the young son of Jesse (the Bethlehemite). And the same way He would be with every single person who was scattered when the church was persecuted in the book of Acts. And as they scattered, they spoke of the things that God had done. Sharing the stories of Him. And the glory of Him. And a great number of people believed.
Because when God has His hand with someone, He is not only preparing them for greatness – He is also preparing to roll out the red carpet of His glory. And to turn many hearts to Him. The way that John would roll out the red carpet for Jesus. And bring many to love Him. Just as the angel foretold.