Advent Week 4: Out of Silence

We return this week to Zechariah’s story. When we left him in week one of this series, he had returned home unable to speak because of his unbelief, reeling from Gabriel’s message. After that day in the temple, Zechariah was plunged into a season of silent waiting. What must those months of waiting have been like for him? Silence. Isolation. Thoughts and questions left unsaid. How many times must he have replayed that interaction with Gabriel? Zechariah certainly had lots of time to ponder all that had transpired and what God was doing in their midst. What would be the first thing out of his mouth when he could speak again?

READ: Take a moment and read Luke 1:57-66.

Zechariah’s tongue is finally loosed during the circumcision ceremony eight days after his son’s birth at the exact moment he obediently declares in writing that his son’s name is John. And after all the long months of waiting in silence, the first thing he does with his restored voice is praise God! Clearly, this season of waiting in silence was not one of passivity or despair. God did not leave Zechariah to languish and despair in silence for his initial disobedience. No. The God of the universe was at work in Zechariah’s life. And we see evidence of this a few verses later when this formerly mute priest turns into a prophet, being filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaiming the reality of God’s work in the world.

READ: Now read Zechariah’s prophecy in Luke 1:67-80.

Zechariah was an ordinary priest from the hill country of Judea who initially missed what God was doing; however, God transformed him and used him for his glorious, extraordinary purposes. God redeemed Zechariah’s waiting and allowed him to proclaim the fulfillment of the words of the prophets and the imminent coming of the Messiah.

What must it have been like for Zechariah to realize these words of the prophets with which he was all too familiar were coming to fruition before his very eyes! And further, his very own family had a role to play in the coming of the Messiah. No wonder Zechariah overflowed with praise!

In seasons of waiting, God does not leave us to languish and toil. He is with us all the while redeeming and transforming us. And what’s more, he wants to use us flawed, broken, impetuous human beings to carry out his extraordinary purposes just as he used Zechariah.

This week as we wait with anticipation to celebrate the birth of our Savior, may our mouths be filled with praise for “because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” -Luke 1:78-79

PONDER & DISCUSS:

  • In one word describe how you imagine Zechariah felt when he was finally able to speak again.
  • What would it be like to realize that you were not only watching God fulfill the words of the prophets but actually part of the story?
  • How might God be wanting to use you right now?
  • For what are you compelled to praise God in this season?

PRACTICE: In his prophecy, Zechariah spoke of how God was fulfilling the words of the prophets with the coming of Christ. This week set aside some time to read some of these prophecies about the coming of the Messiah: Genesis 12:1-3, Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:1-7, & Micah 5:2-4. As you read, consider what it must have been like for Zechariah to not only see these promises being fulfilled but to actually be part of the unfolding story.

As a further reflection, listen to the song “Handel’s Messiah” by Jenny and Tyler.

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