18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” 19 The angel said to him, “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. 20 And 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 appointed time.” 21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. 23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
Thoughts: Christmas means God has spoken through the silence- the Word has become flesh. In contrast, there is a deep silence of unbelief. Unbelief means no angel is there to speak. Unbelief means our words and actions are meaningless in the longrun- heading toward a silent grave. Unbelief means the universe is a lonely, silent place. Unbelief means that even if God has spoken, we have turned our ears to the off position. But to believe means we have something to say. How sad for Zechariah who should have believed but did not. How sad that he had something to say but could not speak. Christians today are called to believe that God can answer our prayers. We are called to speak about what we have seen and heard to the world outside for God has allowed us to experience Him and has given us voices to speak.
Prayer: Thank you that you did not leave us in our silence, but you have spoken. Help me to believe and speak of you to others.
John Calvin abridged: Zechariah had prayed that he might obtain offspring, and now that it is promised he distrusts, as if he had forgotten his own prayers and faith. Zechariah looks for an excuse for his unbelief in his old age. Abraham was old as well, but he believed (Rom. 4:19). Mary asked, "How can this be" when the angel appeared to her. But God sees the heart and the rebuke to Zechariah is not judged just on his words but on his heart.