Zechariah & Elizabeth
Open Your Bible
Luke 1:5-25, Luke 1:57-66, 1 Samuel 1:9-18, Psalm 113:5-9
BY Erin Davis
In our broken condition, even mustard-seed faith is often hard to muster. Take Zechariah, for example. In the first chapter of his Gospel, Luke records that Zechariah had many reasons to trust God. He came from a family of priests who had served God for generations. Surely, the stories of God’s faithfulness had trickled down through Zechariah’s family line. Or maybe through the line of his wife, Elizabeth, who was also from the line of Aaron.
Who was Israel’s first high priest (Numbers 17:8–18:1).
Whose feet had felt the dry sand at the bottom of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:15–31).
Who tasted manna with his own taste buds (Exodus 16).
Who entered the holy of holies and saw God appear in a cloud above the mercy seat (Leviticus 16:2–3).
What stories of God might they have heard?
Zechariah was a praying man who had asked the Lord for a child, and Scripture tells us God heard that prayer (Luke 1:13). Since Zechariah and his wife were “well along in years” (v.18), we can assume they had been praying for a long time, likely decades. Hadn’t Zechariah kept praying in faith? Hadn’t he asked, expecting God to respond? Luke reveals that as Zechariah entered the temple to offer the incense offering, “the whole assembly of the people was praying outside” (v.10). Was his faith strengthened by the image of an entire assembly seeking the Lord?
With a heritage of faith, a history of God’s faithfulness, and the prayers of the people ringing in his ears, you’d think that trusting God would come naturally to Zechariah. Except, of course, it didn’t in this moment. When Gabriel announced that God heard Zechariah’s prayers and was about to do all that Zechariah asked and more, Zechariah replied, “How can I know this?” (v.18). From my own human experience, what I hear in his words is this: “How can I know for sure?” It seems Zechariah was overcome with doubt, not faith. Though he had so many reasons to stand tall on his trust in God, the legs of Zechariah’s faith wobbled. The angel struck him mute as a result (vv.19–20).
Because our hearts are still bruised from the fall, unwavering faith is hard won. Despite all that God has given us, do you, like Zechariah, still doubt that He will come through? Me too. When my need leads me to the intersection of fear and faith, I look at God’s promises and think, How can I know for sure?
Lean in. Listen to the angel’s answer.
“You will become silent and unable to speak until the days these things take place,
because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time” (v.20).
Though God certainly calls us to trust Him, we can read Zechariah’s story and find hope. Zechariah’s weak faith did not weaken God’s power. His doubt didn’t stop John, the forerunner to Jesus, from being born. When your own legs of faith start to wobble, take courage, because nothing can stop the plans of God.