Advent 2013: Day

Zechariah is struck dumb


Today's Text: Luke 1:13-25

Text: Luke 1:13-25

Zechariah is struck dumb until the fulfillment of Gabriel’s prophecy.



Zechariah is only briefly mentioned in the Bible, but his story is a powerful one. He is called “righteous in the sight of God” – a label not used to introduce many, even in the time of Jesus.

For all his knowledge as a high priest, a visit from the angel Gabriel brings out the disbelief in Zechariah. He is told that his wife, Elizabeth, will conceive a child. His answer is similar to a man he must have studied and known about his entire life, Abraham (Genesis 17:17): “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” (Luke 1:18)

He is then struck dumb by the angel Gabriel until his child is born.

Why is this? It rings with the familiar tone of Moses being denied entry into the Promised Land, Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt, even Adam and Eve leaving the garden. We might look at each of those situations and say, “But Lord – such harsh consequences for these offenses. Why?

Looking closer, we see that those who seem, in our eyes, to have been doled an unfair lot, are also those that God placed immense trust and power in over the years. The saying “With great power comes great responsibility” is also true of those who represent the Lord. Zechariah was struck dumb because God knew his disbelief was a stumbling block in their relationship. He saw the authority Zechariah had not only over the people he ministered to, but soon his own son.

In this Christmas season when hearts ache as much as rejoice, let us hold fast to the promises of our Lord of a second coming, of life after death, of grace covering our sins. We can believe in what we have been told, and we should.  Like any relationship, distrust whittles away a bond over time. While God knows our humanity and weakness, our prayer should be, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)



Father, like Zechariah, our belief in You often falters. Deepen our trust in you. Help us to understand the weight of our responsibility as followers of Jesus. Hear us when we cry out to you, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Amen.


Advent Action

Go stargazing and recite Mark 9:24 aloud, as a prayer. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”


For an added layer of worship and study, we chose a beloved Christmas song for each day of our Advent plan. We invite you to listen to The First Noel today as we dwell on the truth of God’s word together.

  • I have prayed this prayer many times! And I can tell you God is SO WILLING to respond! If you were to ask me what I am doubting right now I would have to say… That I will ever get employed. You see, I have been waiting so long to have a steady job, and today I looked and thought wow this is just for me ! It's really hard for me to look around, especially at my unbelieving friends, and see that they have cars and a job.
    What I most definitely take from this story is not to doubt that God can do something! I am so sure, even in my weak moment now, that Jesus knows how badly I want to get work. I'm sure He knows how much I have longed to have my own car to make ministering to my niece a lot easier.
    I'm also waiting for a lot of other things such as a husband and my family to be Christ followers.

    This is my cry these past years and probably the next.
    In the end, I thank Jesus for reminding me of this.

  • Catherine_K_L

    Lord, I believe! help me in my unbelief! There are many times my unbelief has been a stumbling block.

    For many years, I carried an extremely heavy burden of guilt for my poor choices. I believed that a God forgives and that The blood of Jesus cleanses all sin. I just had a hard time believing that included ME. I mean, I had done some really rotten things you see. How could God really include me in that? I didn't forgive myself. It was revealed to me at some point that my unbelief that his mercy and grace included me was like telling Jesus that He wasn't enough! Oh, the tears that came as I allowed His blood to wash me clean. And the love I have for Jesus, especially since I truly understand Him as my Savior is greater than words can express! Psalm 119:18 "Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law."

    I think it's our human nature to try to rationalize things in our own minds and no doubt the devil has a lot of fun helping us in our unbelief. It occurred to me that I see a lot of Christmas decorations with the word "BELIEVE" . I know this is in reference to Santa Claus….but I decided that whenever I see that, I will say the words of Mark to myself "Lord, I believe! Help me in my unbelief" and I will thank God for his answered prayers (past , present and ones to come) , praise Him for his faithfulness and for the all the wondrous works of His hand…..especially the birth of our Savior that we celebrate this season and wait for his return! Christ Jesus has come, He has Risen and He will come again!

  • Candace land

    Diane Smith your advent study sounds like something I need as well.

  • Janee White

    Yesterday, we read that blessed is she who believed that the Lord will fulfill His promises to her. Today, we see the results of Zechariah's doubt.

    The angel said to him, "And now you will be silent…until the day THIS happens." For Zechariah, it was the birth of his son to his barren wife. But what's your 'THIS'? What are you disbelieving will happen? What has God promised that causes you to doubt Him?

    I have been struggling to believe that God will fulfill His promises to me. That His ways are higher than mine. That He gives homes to the homeless. That He will prepare a way for me. That my future will be prosperous. I am in a season of doubt.

    So I prayed today, Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief. For I am your servant Lord, let it be to me as You have said. For blessed is she who believes that no Word from God will ever fail.

    May that be your prayer today as well…..

  • Diane smith

    WE are ladies in waiting. I was struck by Luke 1:17 as I read this devotional; .such a huge responsibility for Zachariah ! &Elizabeth
    To wait! believing God would do what he said he would. In my own life ,my husband and I are waiting too. throughout this advent time I have been given verses about the hearts of the fathers being turned to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.
    This can only happen through the Holy Spirit s move on and in us. It is a slow process, that of forgiveness and reconciliation,but we know it is the will of God not just for our family, but for the Glory of God. Parents aren't perfect, no matter how hard we try to do everything right.We need gods intervention as much now as we did when we waited in childbirth? today we too are praying for God to help our unbelief.

  • "Zechariah was struck dumb because God knew his disbelief was a stumbling block in their relationship." This really helps me realize why Christ has been calling me in the way He has. Lately, the Holy Spirit has been guarding my heart towards certain people and relationships; while I am following His call and asking for the insight and wisdom to do so, the insight that He's been protecting me from these things because He knows they are a stumbling block to me- and to our relationship- fills my heart with SUCH appreciation. He knows me, and He completely knows what I can and cannot handle/what is fruitful and what is not for me. That Christ would hold me, and our relationship, in such High regard! that He wants to get rid of anything that may hinder my love from growing more for Him, and may hinder His blessings from raining down on me– Father, you are SO GOOD! I believe. Help me today, in any of my unbelief, Lord! I trust you to do what is truly GOOD.

  • The waiting is so hard because He made us Mothers able to fix things. But there are a lot of things we can't fix . We must wait and grow in faith while we know He is able in His timing. Lord, help our unbelief as we trust in You!

    • Lori B.

      This is where I find myself lacking in trust in The Lord, Ioneem. I have been praying for God to break the lure and draw of drugs and alcohol for my son, but sometimes I realize that there's a part of me that doesn't really believe it will happen, as he comes from a long line of addiction on his father's side. As his mother, I tried everything I could think of to keep him from this place, and I failed miserably. I finally gave it to God, and have heard His voice consistently tell me, "I've got this, Lori." So why do I continue in my disbelief?

      Thank you for this prayer today… Lord, I believe… Help me in my unbelief!

  • Love your comment, Cass. How sweet our relationship with Him can become while we are waiting and trusting. This can be hard, but we must shift our focus on Him and He will take care of us. Thank you, Jesus, for your love and understanding. Help me in my disbelief as well! Sometimes I tell myself that I’m trusting You, but do I really? Search my heart and draw up in me the places that struggle to trust You.

  • In my work as a chaplain that is one of my most favorite verses to pray with people – Lord I believe, but help my own belief. It draws on our humanity – that we are not called to be perfect – that is why we have Christ.

  • Beatccr, a very dear friend of mine has been in a period of waiting/struggling for nearly 6 months. She and her husband were willing to step out in faith and make a tough decision, but it seemed that God wanted them to persevere for all those months-just trusting, resting. While the struggle was incredibly difficult, I saw her grow in such grace! Jesus became so dear to her! Like yesterday’s devotional claimed, she was drawn closer to God because He was the only sure thing! Praying that God makes himself as sweet to you as you persevere until His will is made known to you! Pursue him, seek him and you will find him, and finding Him will bring peace in the waiting.

  • Gah. I cannot tell you how much I needed today's and yesterday's devotions. I'm right now in a situation (while it may seem trivial) is really testing how strong my belief is and how much I can trust God. I feel like I've done everything I can do and I'm stuck waiting to see what's going to happen. And I once again cannot believe that God could come through with this. And it's SO frustrating! All I want is a Yes or a No so I can then react appropriately. And instead, I just feel that God just wants me to trust in him. But how long am I supposed to do this???

    So I read this today and yes. This will be my prayer for today “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”. And maybe I won't get an answer immediately. But God will answer. It's as if he actually wants to me to live out everything I've been writing in my blog lately: trusting in God, letting go, waiting, listening in the silence, etc. Fancy that huh?

    • AnnaLee

      Totally in the same boat! You aren't alone there! Praying for you, sister. :)

  • lifethroughmylenz

    last night we were able to go see a live Nativity production and while watching this part of the production, my kids were amazed that God would do this and had so many questions. It was a great tool to show them just how powerful our God is. The oldest one said, "wow i'm never going to not believe because I don't ever want God to do that to me…." it's a start, right? So this morning after everyone is awake, we plan on going back to what we saw last night and really explain to them what they saw last.

  • Joanne Sher

    The Lord gives us great power through Him. And we have doubts. Because we are human. And He UNDERSTANDS. We believe, but not perfectly. So thankful the One we doubt will help us believe!

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