I love the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, if you have no idea what I’m talking about go away and read the whole of Luke chapter 1. Done it? Good. I love the images of this couple, serving away in the temple, longing for kids, waiting for God to fulfil his promises at last. All of a sudden Zech (as we’ll call him) is blown away by an Angel telling that he is going to have a child and that child will be someone who will prepare the way for the thing they’ve been waiting for, for Israel to get back with God and the Lord to come. No wonder he falters a bit and says, um, hang on a moment, have you seen us? We’re old. Children don’t come to old barren women Mr Angel or don’t you realise that.
For this question, and for not believing the word of Gabriel he gets 9 months of silence, whilst Elizabeth gets what she’s longed for, the impossible, a baby. I’m not sure what it would be like to not be able to speak for 9 months. I’m really not sure what it would be like to be given a baby after all those years, after giving up on hope. I am sure there were some big celebrations once the baby was born and Zech was given back his voice. A new song bursts out of his mouth, he comes alive and praises God for what has happened.
What has happened to cause such praise, such exuberance? After 400 years of silence God has stepped on the scene again. For 400 years nothing and now this. There is going to be a voice calling out in the wilderness, there will be someone to prepare the way for the One who was promised. Into all the waiting, the failing hopes, the aching dreams steps the messenger of God with news.
This is no ordinary news, this is news of real hope, of promises half forgotten actually coming true, of things that we no longer dared to hope for bursting into view. It’s a massive view, in fact, if you have time, it’s a three story picture window view. God has come, he’s redeemed his people, he’s forgiven their sins, he’s doing what he said he would, he’s going to make sure we can serve him without fear and he’s going to make sure we get caught up in his tender, tender mercy. We are faced with such a rush of colour, light and truth after such long silent years.
Like the sudden turning on of a light in a dark room God’s promises rush into our vision and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by what we see, to let them swim over our heads. To miss the point that these are the promises that enable us to live with him today. We are able to serve him without fear today, we can enjoy his tender mercies today. That’s right. Today. This God who shines light in the darkest of places is at work in your life today. The rising sun from heaven has come and there is on offer peace of the deepest sort.
Have you got tired of waiting for God to do something? How does this passage help in the waiting?
What do we need to know in the waiting?
How does it feel to know that God acts in tender mercy towards you?