On our Journey to the Manger today, we met Zechariah, the father of John. We couldn’t talk with him, though, because he wasn’t able to speak.
When the Angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the Temple with the answer to his prayer, Zechariah struggled with unbelief. He had longed for so many years to have a child, yet now that God was granting that hope in such a supernatural way, Zechariah hesitated. As a result, God silenced Zechariah for the time of his wife Elizabeth’s pregnancy to help him understand and believe in God’s power and promise. Though Zechariah temporarily could not speak, he would raise a son who would proclaim the coming Messiah.
Tonight we played a Christmas version of charades to put ourselves in Zechariah’s sandals. It was difficult to communicate without words, or even sounds! We often broke the rules, but had an amazing time together! 🙂
God’s mercy was rich in the midst of Zechariah’s doubt. God fulfilled His promise, and Elizabeth became pregnant even though she was well past child-bearing years. God continued to mold Zechariah’s heart during his nine-plus months of silence, so when the time came to name his precious son, Zechariah was ready to proclaim God’s Word and prophecy about John’s role of preparation for the Messiah.
And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the Dawn from on high will visit us to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
– Luke 1:76-79
God is merciful even when we struggle to believe. We may experience discipline, and God could choose to silence us for a time in order to impress His truths in our hearts. But, God disciplines those He loves, and we can trust that God’s timing and His plans are for our good and for His glory. This Christmas, let’s ask our Heavenly Father to increase our faith, and to prepare us to act upon His promises.
Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.