8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Sometimes I am not sure what the plan is, it feels like I am not on the map, and I don’t know the way, do you ever feel like that? This is where I could do with a spiritual Sat-Nav.
When I use my car Sat-Nav, there is a certain comfort and reassurance that someone knows where to go, the reassuring voice directing you on unfamiliar roads. But sometimes there can be long periods of time where it is silent, this can make me get fidgety, is it right? Does my Irish companion know where she is going? Surely you need to be saying something! Speak to me!
It can feel like that with God. We want Him to speak, we want Him to say something!
When we look at this story and the history of Israel we see that it has been 400 years since God spoke. The silence creates a tension and an expectation, like any great actor or comedian, timing makes all the difference. Now I’m not saying that God is a comedian or an actor, but He does know when to speak. If we don’t understand his timing then the waiting can give way to frustration and disappointment which in turn can lead to a sickness of heart.
But, we need to know that there is a plan, and at the right time God will speak, at the right moment God will break in with the direction that we need. For He says:
I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. “When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Jer 29:11 (MSG)
Zechariah was in the middle of Gods plan. Though he may not have felt that and wondered where God was in the prayers that he prayed, God had a plan, and at the right time he spoke.
His son would be the forerunner of the Christ, he would prepare the way for the message of God to the world. The Saviour of the world was about to break into history, God’s gift of love and grace through whom and by whom we receive our salvation.
God’s faithfulness is our assurance of future direction. God had directed Israel throughout her life, and though he had been silent for a great period of time He had not forgotten his people. He had not forgotten his servant Zechariah and He has not forgotten you. Though there may be silence, hold on to his faithfulness because the plan is good and pleasing.