11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.[b] 16Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." 18Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."19The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."2Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John." 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. (Luke 1:18-19, 62-64 NIV)Zechariah was a holy man. He was a priest of the Lord. He studied the scriptures. He knew of all the marvelous works God had performed in the past yet he had difficulty believing that the same God that gave his father Abraham a child in his old age could do the same for Him. Does this sound familiar? God sent word to Zechariah that his wife, Elizabeth would bare a child but because Zachariah couldn’t conceive in His mind how God could perform what Gabriel spoke of, he questioned the ways of God. Now, God has already told us that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. Great are the mysteries of God. If we knew everything, we would have no need for God. Only God is all knowing. Zachariah didn’t say “God can’t do that” but he asked how he could be sure that what the angel spoke of would come to be. Zachariah took it a step further and began to reason with the angel, explaining that both he and his wife were old. We can’t make sense of everything God reveals to us immediately but rather it has to unfold before our eyes. As a result of Zachariah’s disbelief, God shut Zachariah’s mouth until the things that were spoken to him came to be. Elizabeth conceive that evening and John the Baptist was born to bare witness to the soon and coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.
I’ve read the story of the birth of Christ countless times. I’ve read it so many times that I often fail to pause and meditate on the “small details” as deeply as I should. (Lord, forgive me.) Each time I read the story, I get a fresh revelation. This time the Lord showed me how important it is to learn when to be silent. We can’t share everything with everyone – especially when we are battling doubt over things God has personally spoken to us. We have to go through the TEST before we can give the TESTimony. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t thank God in advance but I am saying that God isn’t the only one that hears what we say. Perhaps God silenced Zachariah because He couldn’t have the man of God walking around believing God to perform miracles in everyone else’s lives except for His own. If we, the Children of God are the first to offer encouragement to everyone else when all odds appear to be against them and then begin to doubt God when we need Him to do the impossible on our behalf, what kind of message does this send ? We have to practice ALL that we preach including faith.
The first words to leave Zachariah’s mouth were praises to God. We must be certain that once God does bring us out, bless us, deliver us and save us that we give Him all of the glory, honor and praise. Yes, there are people that God sends to help us long the way and in some cases prophesy to us but they can do nothing without the Spirit of the Lord leading to do so. Zachariah could have exclaimed “Wow… This happened just like Gabriel told me it would” but he didn’t. He understood Gabriel was a messenger and not the Author. Zachariah understood that God shut his mouth because words are powerful. God didn’t need anyone speaking and spreading doubt throughout the land.
So the next time God gives us a message to carry for Him or allows us to see a glimpse of our future, remember that we have a choice. We can believe what God said, “Speak Up” to Him in thanksgiving and praise or we can choose to doubt and “Shut up” our blessing. It’s our choice: Speak Up or Shut Up.