Zechariah's Prayer of Expectation

Can’t happen.

No way.


You gotta be kiddin’ me?!

Gimme a break.


Zechariah was an old man. A priest, yes, but old. Elizabeth, his wife of decades, must not have been far behind. She had been barren as a young woman. Now she was well passed child bearing age. No children had been born to them. No children would be born to them. So everyone thought.

God works in can’t and won’t. God overwhelms impossible and never. God loves the space between reasonable and unreasonable. God excels at reaching beyond possible into the impossible. God inhabits the realm beyond nature, the supernatural.

When God promises. You can trust it. 

When God says, “Can.” You ask, “When?”

When God says, “Will.” You say, “Yes!”

You can count on Him. He is God. He is Sovereign. He can do what He wants.

Zechariah is burning incense before God in the Temple. You can read this in Luke 1:5 and following. The archangel Gabriel appears. Awesome bunch angels are. They have to skip, “Hello,” and move straight to “Do not be afraid.” Gabriel tells Zechariah that Elizabeth will have a boy. A boy to be named John meaning “God has been gracious.” Oh, yes, in spite of decades of barrenness God had a special, gracious plan. A miraculous plan. John will be a powerful prophet like unto Elijah. Preparing the way for the Messiah will be John’s calling.

“How can this be?,” asks Zechariah, “I’m old. My wife is old.”

Generally, we can agree to the aphorism that “no question is a dumb question,” but I wonder if we need an exemption for questions asked in disbelief of God’s Sovereign will? Our amended rule, not so succinct, would be something like this, “No question is dumb, unless God clearly says something to you and you just as clearly think God can not do it. You’ve just called God a liar. You are in BIG trouble now, Buddy.” That’s the new rule. We’ll call it The Big Trouble Disbelief Rule. You’d do well to follow it. Unless you wanna end up like Zachariah. 

Gabriel shut him up for nine-plus months. No speech. Read Luke 1:19-20. It wasn’t until John was born and taken to be circumcised on the eighth day that Zechariah’s tongue was loosed says Luke 1:64.

When Zechariah offers his amazing praying in song, the Benedictus recorded in Luke 1:68-79, he connects it with the miraculous baby-boy bearing promise of a Sovereign God from verse 13. Zechariah offers an expectant prayer. Expectant of the Messiah. Expectant of his own miraculous son’s role as the forerunner prophet.

Expectant prayers begin with God’s promise. Not hopes. Nor wishes. Not even dreams. But God’s promise. God announced through the angel Gabriel that Zechariah and Elizabeth would have a son. They did have a son.

What is impossible in your life? Who do you think will never change? What do you think can’t happen? That is exactly where God likes to show up. Seek His will. Pray in expectation of His answer. What has God announced for you? Act in faith as He guides you. Find God’s promises for you. Live in all the He has for you.

How can this be?

God said so.

To rescue us from the hand of our enemies, to enable us to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. Luke 1:74-75

Read or listen to this Scripture from Luke 1 in YouVersion. This post is based on the second sermon in my series, The Prayers of Christmas. You can hear the podcast here or subscribe on iTunes.

Revealing Deliverance

“Number 8 is a stunning offering of surrealist influenced psychic automatism commenting on the malaise of Western modernity.”

Do you understand that sentence? I don’t. And I wrote it. I wrote it combining some internet gleaned tidbits and vocabulary of my own as a spoof to illustrate the point of this post. Now we can observe that Jackson Pollock’s Number 8 is more than “surrealist influenced,” it has become an equally impressive “blog illustrating.” 

Modern art can be, how to put it—intriguing—to most of us. We look at works like the one above and think, “What does it mean?” Artsy types tell us, “If we have to ask what it means, then you wouldn’t understand anyhow.” Translation: “I don’t know either; I just think it’s fun to pretend as if I posses greater acuity than you. Besides, the dude splattered paint around and got paid for it. Cool! ”

Reading through Zechariah you may feel like you are looking at modern art. An angel guiding the prophet through Oracles (visions). And these visions are at best odd and sometimes just pure confusing. But unlike modern art, the prophecies of Zechariah do have real, eternal value. God Himself spoke through Zechariah using symbolism and imagery with great depth of meaning. We can not unpack it all herein, but please do read Zechariah prayerfully and find out for yourself.

No other book of the Old Testament contains so much prophecy in such a short space. Zechariah prophesies of the reign, kingship, priesthood, humanity, deity, lowly origin, rejection for 30 pieces of silver, and piercing by a sword of Jesus. He make pronouncements of Israel and other nations as well. Zechariah, not unlike the painting above, is rich with layers and meaning. 

Zechariah 1:1 tells us he the first six verses are from October/November 520 BC just after work restarted on the Temple (Haggai 1:14-15). Zechariah 1:7 is specific to February 15, 519 BC and includes the Oracles of a hopeful future for God’s people. Let’s look a little more closely at those first six verses—A Call to Repentance. 

“God was rough on your ancestors,” Zechariah begins, “and they deserved it. But you have a chance to come back to God. Sovereign, eternal God promises He will restore you and deliver you.” And not to be stumped like we’re looking at abstract, modern art, we ask, “But how do I come back to you God?”

“Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices,” God replies in 1:4. Listen. Obey. Repent. That is what God asks. Not abstract. Not easy.

God tells us throughout the remainder of the Book of Zechariah just how he will deliver His people, Israel, in 519 BC and His people, all Christ followers of all ages, in His Sovereign plan. 

What do you need God to deliver you from?

Are you fully obeying everything He has already revealed to you?

What can you learn from Zechariah?

This post is the eleventh in our series, Major Stuff from the Minor Prophets. Feel free to comment or share this post using the tools below or subscribe to this site via email above right.