“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel…”
Remember how the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah while he was offering priestly prayers for the people? And remember how exuberantly the angel announced the good news that Zechariah was about to become a father in his old age? Remember how Zechariah totally wiffed in his response, letting doubt spoil the grand moment?
Did his response get overlooked by the angel? Hardly. As a result of his doubting, for the next nine agonizing months, Zechariah was unable to speak. He lost his voice entirely. His vocal cords stopped working. He couldn’t sing.
Forget about reciting the Psalms as part of his priestly duties. He couldn’t enter in on conversations, or throw in a timely joke, or comment on a sunset. He couldn’t tell Elizabeth how cute she looked with her baby bump. He had to write it on a tablet.
Nine months to relive that moment with Gabriel, only now responding in the affirmative with belief and God-sized wonder. Nine months to appreciate the privilege of words, of speaking.
And then that day came. John was born, and at the occasion of his naming, Zechariah got his voice back. And what words came out of his mouth, words that spoke of God’s grand plan, and the joy of knowing that his offspring, John the Baptist, would play a role in heralding the Savior of the world!
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us – to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Praise God that you have vocal cords that work. May you today employ them for good, like Zechariah speaking out the greatness of God’s plan as you see it being fulfilled in your life, and in the lives of others.
James says that “with the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.” Let’s choose the former and not the latter.