And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, "His name is John." And they were all astonished.Luke 1:63(NASB)
The song of rejoicing that Zechariah sang at the celebration of the birth of his baby son, was a touching foretelling of the important, prophetic role his child would play in life and times of Israel and their promised Messiah.
It was on the eighth day, when the baby John was to be circumcised in the presence of all his neighbours and family members, that Zacharias insisted, "His name is JOHN."
An angel of the Lord had appeared to him at the altar of incense, in the Temple of God and had announced the wonderful news that his prayers had been answered – that he and his elderly wife Elizabeth, would soon have a son who would go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah, to prepare the way for the Lord, and he was to be given the name 'JOHN'.
Because the old priest had doubted the word of the angel Gabriel, he was struck dumb during his wife's pregnancy and was to remain unable to speak "until the day these things take place."
The angel had told Zacharias that he would have great joy and gladness, and that many would rejoice at his son's birth: "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink no wine or liquor and be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb."
Zacharias was told that his child would turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God and become the forerunner of the Messiah. He would turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children and cause many disobedient people to develop a righteous attitude "so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
Instead of trusting his word, Zacharias asked Gabriel for proof of his prediction. Instead of trusting the Word of the Lord by faith, Zacharias preferred to live by sight or receive a sign to prove God's promise was true. Perhaps this dear old man had forgotten that Abraham lived by faith and that it was his faith that was credited to him as righteousness.
And so the angel reprimanded him told him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news." He was told that he would remain silent and unable to speak until the day when these things took place, because he did not believe the Word from the Lord "which will be fulfilled in their proper time."
Zacharias remained dumb until the day that his child was to be circumcised and named. Family tradition dictated that the firstborn son would be given his father's name. Although Elizabeth insisted the baby must be called John, the great company of well-wishers and visitors insisted that 'Zacharias' was a more appropriate name, as no one in their family went by the name of 'John'!
And so we read that they made signs to Zacharias as to what he wanted his child to be called: "And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, His name is John." Naturally, all the people there were astonished and glorified God when Zacharias' mouth was finally opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God and prophecy of his son's prophetic role in Israel.
What lessons we all can learn from this beautiful Bible story. How important to trust the Word of God and not to be influenced by the traditions of men. What a mighty, miracle-working God we have Who hears our cries and answers our prayers, but how important to remember that God often answers our prayers in ways we do not expect.
What far-reaching consequences can be caused when we doubt the Word of the Lord, but what joy is ours when we trust and obey His calling. How important that we live by faith and not by sight or signs, and to remember that without faith it is impossible to please Him.
God has clearly said in His Word: "My righteous ones shall live by faith, and whatsoever is not out of faith is sin." May we be men and women of God who trust His Word, live by faith, and walk all the days of our life in spirit and in truth.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the many insights into the life of Zacharias, Elizabeth, and the birth of John, their firstborn son. Thank You for Zacharias' lovely testimony to Your faithfulness and grace. Help me to live by faith and not by sight, and help me not to doubt Your precious promises. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.