Day 21 - December 23, 2017

Zechariah, Priest Turned Prophet

We left Zechariah at the point that after a nine-month period of silence, he was obedient to God and able to speak again. Some of the first words he uttered are captured in our passage for today. This song of praise is called the Benedictus and consists of two prophecies, one about the coming Messiah (1:68-75) and the other about the coming of John the Baptist (1:76-79). The long-awaited Deliverer from the house of David (1:69) was coming to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham when He made a covenant with him (1:72). The Messiah would set His people free “to serve God without fear” (1:74). The Messiah’s way would be prepared by John, who would make the people ready to receive the promise of God.

And this is what our task is: to prepare the way for the second coming (second Advent) of Jesus Christ. God calls us to come to Him for salvation, that in turn we may go into the world and participate in calling the world to God. This invitation from God to share His call is actually characteristic of the grace God gives us. Even more amazing, God works through us despite ourselves, as it was with Zechariah. He doubted and yet was used to provide one of the most concise predictions of what was to come for Israel.

When looking back and reliving this nine-month period of his life, Zechariah may have concluded that despite God’s discipline, he had grown and developed a dependence on God that was missing when he entered the temple. Although serving God is an act of grace on His part, it is a source of pride in our lives. We can easily take our self-worth from our work and lose our identity because it is wrapped up in our abilities. Oswald Chambers reminds us that the biggest obstacle to our walk with Christ can be our service to Him! The silent period had taught Zechariah to be open to God and hence the Holy Spirit filled the priest in order for him to deliver the Benedictus. Zechariah teaches us that God is more concerned with “my availability than my ability.”2 That is, obedience is more important to God than serving in the temple. While there is nothing wrong with feeling good about what we do for God, our identity is found in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:23) and not in ourselves or our accomplishments. And although Zechariah could have made it easier on himself by believing in the first place, he could say with Paul that “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Sometimes tragedy strikes and sometimes we open ourselves to discipline. It was a hardship that Elizabeth was barren and a wrong move on Zechariah’s part to doubt God but in God’s great plan He uses the difficulties and mistakes in our lives to accomplish His will and to prove His faithfulness to us personally. Despite Zechariah’s “claim to fame,” may he be an example of the saying, “All’s well that ends well.”

Dear Father, forgive our shortcomings and continue to amaze us as to how You overcome them to your glory. In Jesus’ name who makes this possible, Amen.

2 Bill Arnold, I and 2 Samuel NIV Application Commentary 365.
submitted by the Reverend Dr. Richard Menninger, Andrew B. Martin Professor of Religion

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