The old woman, Elizabeth, had given birth to her one and only son. As relatives and neighbors gathered on the eighth day for the ceremony of circumcision, they naturally assumed that the boy’s name would be Zechariah. Speaking only to Elizabeth they all argued with her when she said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John” (Luke 1:60 New American Standard Bible NASB). “But the people gathered said, “‘There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name’” (v. 61).
Confused, they tried speaking to Zechariah in sign language. After all, to name his son John was against Jewish tradition and an affront to Zechariah, and he asked for a tablet to write on. Recall that after his encounter with the angel in the temple, Zechariah had been unable to speak due to his unbelief. In answer to the people’s protests, Zechariah took the tablet and wrote, “His name is John” (v. 63). The people were dumbfounded. They could not understand.
Immediately, Zechariah’s mouth suddenly opened and he began to speak, praising God.
Zechariah’s ability to speak caused fear in the relatives and neighbors, and talk about this miraculous event spread to all the people living in the area. Fear gripped them, and they commented to one another, “‘What then will this child turn out to be?’ For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him” (v. 66).
As the Holy Spirit filled Zechariah, he began to prophesy:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of David His servant—
As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—
Salvation from our enemies,
And from the hand of all who hate us;
To show mercy toward our fathers,
And to remember His holy covenant,
The oath which He swore to Abraham our father,
To grant us that we, being rescued 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 on before the Lord to prepare His ways;
To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,
Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace’” (vs. 68-79).
Now we have the third filling of the Holy Spirit into those people whom God used to fulfill his purpose and plan to redeem humanity.
Zechariah’s prophecy is the heart and lifeblood of the gospel message.
Furthermore, as the Holy Spirit had filled him, Zechariah’s speech to his infant son gave all who heard hope for the coming Messiah.
If we took the time to read Zechariah’s prophecy on a daily basis, hope for what lies ahead would replace the fears of today, and our promise of eternal life would be pure, proper, and palpable as we live out our salvation through God’s grace, love, and mercy.
Do you believe in Zechariah’s prophecy?