Read: Luke 1
Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy: “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people.” (Luke 1:67-68)
Over the years the church has given Zechariah’s song the title, “The Benedictus,” or The Blessing. The lyrics of this brief song, which we read in verses 67-79, were sung by one of the proudest and oldest first time fathers of all time. But more than being just a happy little diddy from a happy ol’ daddy, Zechariah verbalizes two timeless and timely truths about God’s character that you and I probably need to hear again today.
First, we are reminded that God never breaks a promise! John’s birth was living proof of God’s faithfulness. In his song, Zechariah belts out to all who will listen, “Blessings on the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has turned his face towards his people and has set them free!” (v. 68. J.B. Phillips)
God keeps his promises—every one of them. He can’t help himself; it is just his nature. He had promised through the prophets a redeemer for Israel hundreds of year before, and 400 silent years had passed since the last prophet Malachi had uttered the oracles of God until the time the angel Gabriel revealed God’s plan to Zechariah. Though God’s promise had been ever so slow in coming, it was nonetheless fulfilled.
Zechariah’s song reminds us that even though God may be slow, he is never late!
Second, God never forgets. The name “Zechariah” meant “God remembers”. And in his song Zechariah exploded with the joyful realization that God does remember: “God has remembered his oath…” (vv. 72-73)
Zechariah must have been discouraged. He was a priest of a nation that had turned its back on God. He and Elizabeth, whose name meant “the promise of God”, had been faithful to God all their lives—they had lived up to the meaning of their names. Yet God had neither blessed them with a son nor had wayward Israel been delivered from its oppressive foreign enemies. However, Zechariah fiercely clung to this truth: Our Creator remembers! God knows who we are, where we are and what we need. He remembers us. He remembers his promises, and God graciously acts at the proper time. Perhaps Zechariah remembered those moving words God spoke to Israel in Isaiah 49:15-16,
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”
Zechariah leaned into that promise, and he found a blessed truth that you, too, may need to lean into today: God can’t forget!
Tom Sutherland was taken hostage by radicals in the Middle East and held in captivity for four years in the mid 1980’s, mostly in solitary confinement. He existed in deep darkness during that long ordeal. Sometimes he could hear the captor’s radio when they tuned it to the BBC, and Tom would listen intently hoping and praying to hear his name mentioned on a newscast. But he never heard it, so he figured that people back home didn’t even know he was alive, much less imprisoned.
Finally, Tom was released. He flew back to the US and landed in San Francisco, and he was amazed as he got off the plane to see a huge crowd, people waving signs, cameras, reporters, and TV lights. He turned to his wife and said, “There must have been a famous person on this plane with us. See if you can spot them.”
She said, “Tom, they’re all here for you!” At that, Tom broke down and cried like a baby.
After he regained his composure, he said, “I thought everybody had forgotten me…I felt abandoned…I didn’t think anybody cared. Thank God I was wrong.”
If you are reading these words today and feeling a little forgotten by God, thank God you’re wrong! Zechariah reminds you from first hand experience through his song that God remembers you and will fulfill every single one of his promises to you at the proper time!
So be faithful!
“God often gives in one brief moment that which He has for a long time denied.” ~Thomas A` Kempis
What If God Took Over?
What are you waiting on God for? Are you getting discouraged that the answer hasn’t come. Are you a little upset, even angry with him that he hasn’t provided what you’ve asked for? Make this declaration of trust in God as an act of faith right now: “God, I believe in you, I trust your timing, I declare your love, and I wait patiently for your answer.”