And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of David His servant—
As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—
Salvation from our enemies,
And from the hand of all who hate us;
To show mercy toward our fathers,
And to remember His holy covenant,
The oath which He swore to Abraham our father,
To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;
To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,
Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
// Luke 1:67-80
After Zacharias regained his powers of speech he immediately praised God, was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy. When faith enters our hearts, we can be like Mary or Elizabeth who, at the sound of the announcement of a promise alone, rejoiced and prophesied. Or we can be like Zacharias who, once he'd lost the muteness of doubt and his tongue was loosened by fresh-born faith, praised and prophesied, even when only looking at the small beginnings of something world-changing, as John and Jesus would be.
Zacharias’ life is instructive to us in two ways: firstly, when we have doubt in our hearts, to God it sounds like muteness. This may, in fact, be a good thing, because when our heart is full of doubt the Lord doesn’t want to attend to the doubtful things we say. So to Him it just sounds like we went mute for a time and lost the ability to speak. This is a mercy, because we know that faith pleases God, so we only want Him to hear our faith-filled words. Our doubt doesn’t register to God. That could be cause enough to rejoice – for do we really want Him to remember what we said in our doubting moments?
Secondly, the instant his tongue was loosed, because faith was flowering in his heart, Zacharias prophesied. There are so many utterances of prophecy and supernatural events that mark the lead up to the birth of Christ. Revelation 19:6 tells us, “The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.” So whenever Jesus comes around, there will be prophecy. It’s how we know He’s come, it’s how we know that He is moving and is active in our lives. If Jesus is with you – He is Immanuel, “God with us” – then you can bet there will be prophecy. Prophecy is His testimony: it’s what He sees, what He hears, what He expects.
When our lives seem a mess, when we face difficulties and tests, do we want Jesus to just say, “There, there,” pat us sympathetically on the back, and move on with His day? Or would we like to know what He wants to say or do? To walk with Jesus is to follow in the slipstream of the Gracious One, who prophesies who He sees us to be, what we have the potential to do and what He dreams about for our lives. To be with the Good Shepherd is to hear His Prophetic Voice and learn, by faith, to say what He says about ourselves (and others) and to do what He is doing. Because of Him we can stand in the mess of our stables and have a promise to hold onto, instead of having despair in our hearts and doubt on our lips.