He was a righteous man, and a priest. He had no doubt read many times the story of the aged Abraham, and God’s promise of a son. He must have thrilled at the angel’s question, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). He may have wept silently at the ancient account of Isaac’s birth, for he understood only too well Abraham’s deepest longing.
Abraham had wanted a son more than life itself, and the God of heaven, who loves his people and keeps his promises did exactly that.
No doubt he had also read the story of Hannah’s prayer for a son. She had cried the tears of the desperately lonely, and promised that, if given a son, she would dedicate him to God. He may have smiled when he read that Eli had told her, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant you the petition you have made to him” (1 Samuel 1:17). Of course Hannah’s prayer was granted, for God was a God who kept his promises, and loved his children. In those long ago days he led and loved and blessed his people.
But did God still guide and love his people? Did he still answer prayer? Might the Lord of heaven, even that day, answer his deepest longing, a son?
“Do not be afraid,” the angel had said, “Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John” (Luke 1:13).
Zechariah believed that God had answered Abraham’s prayer, and Hannah’s, too. He just could not believe that God wished to bless him with a child. Were God’s blessings for him, too?
Zechariah had nine months to think the matter over. God struck him dumb for his lack of faith. Which brings up an important question. If every Christian who failed to believe God’s promises today were struck dumb … how many of us could say “hello” this morning?
But did God still guide and love his people? Did he still answer prayer?