Now the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they began to wonder why he was delayed in the holy place.
When he came out, he was not able to speak to them. They realized that he had seen a vision in the holy place, because he was making signs to them and remained unable to speak.
When his time of service was over, he went to his home.
After some time his wife Elizabeth became pregnant, and for five months she kept herself in seclusion. She said, “This is what the Lord has done for me at the time when he has been gracious to me, to take away my disgrace among people.”’
Let’s just have a little moment to really consider what this looked like.
These people have done this the same way, every day, for a few thousand years. They know how long it’s going to take. When you’re at church and there is an awkward silence before they start the sermon, how long is that silence? A few seconds? That seems like EONS to the tech team. To the person behind the sound board, waiting to turn up a mic, that extra delay is mega-eons!
Now imagine that the pause could be because somebody did something wrong in the service-order so God struck them dead!
When Zechariah comes out, he can’t talk. He can motion and point, but he can’t make noises or talk. Now imagine he’s that one friend of yours that always loses at charades. This was quite a scene! He was making some kinds of signs, but it doesn’t really say that the people understood what he said. It just says that he finished his time of service there. That may have been a few months. You’d think if a guy had just seen an angel in the Holy Place, that they’d give him more credit.
I don’t think anybody understood him at all. It says they knew he saw a vision, but if they’d known that the Messiah’s Herald just had his birth announcement written, they’d be going nuts.
In the month’s to follow, Elizabeth might have understood it too, but not fully. For her, the birth of a son would take away the shame of not having children. For her, the shame and disgrace wasn’t about her sin, but about the blessings of God upon her. No child was like no grape harvest and no figs on the trees. They perceived it as God turning His face from them.
If ever in the history of the Bible we had an example of God doing something deeply small and personal while at the same time doing something huge and galactic for all mankind, we have it here. That baby would take away Elizabeth’s shame of being childless, and unleash the coming of the messiah to take away all shame forever. That baby would help Zechariah see the faithfulness of God, as He cares for His Levites and as He cares for His people.
The Lord is doing the same kinds of things for us every day, big and little all at the same time. He loves us so much.