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Summary: The story of Zechariah reminds us that God promises amazing things and he always keeps his promises.

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“An Amazing Promise”

December 2, 2007

God: The Christmas story is a story of an amazing birth that changed the world forever. However, it is also the story of another birth that ushered in the beginnings of Jesus’ kingdom.

Zechariah was a priest in Israel. He was getting to be an old man and it was finally his turn to be the officiating priest in the temple. His job was to enter the temple, burn incense and pray for the nation of Israel. This was an incredibly high honor, and it was something you only got to do once in your lifetime. This is the highest moment in Zechariah’s ministry.

Zechariah was married to Elizabeth. They were both past the normal age for having children and they had never had a child. They had resigned themselves to the fact that they would be barren forever.

As Zechariah is in the temple lighting the incense and praying, an angel shows up and gives him a crazy promise from God.

"Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 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 from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1:13-17 (NIV)

God’s promise to Zechariah was that his son would be a prophet to the world announcing the arrival of the Messiah.

The only problem for Zechariah was that he did not have a son.

God is able to provide more than we can physically see.

Sometimes God’s plans and designs don’t make sense to us. God works according to his time, his plan and his purpose.

"I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” Isaiah 55:8 (The Message)

God’s plans are greater than we can ever imagine. When what we hear God say is different from what we can visibly see, we can be assured that something better is going on.

This may be the hardest reality that we have to live in. God’s design and plan for our life is for good. Sometimes, it doesn’t always feel that way. However, through allof life’s issues and struggles we can hold onto the promise that God gave to the nation of Israel.

“For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

We often feel like life is nothing but one disaster after another. Nothing seems to make sense. What is so hard for us to hold onto from our human perspective is that God is at work at a deeper, unseen level.

Zechariah doubted tht God was really at work. He questioned God and doubted what the angel had said.

“Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time." Luke 1:19-20 (NIV)

Because Zechariah doubted God, he was not able to speak the entire time Elizabeth was pregnant. God does not always give us a disability like he gave Zechariah, but we need to make sure that when God says something is going to happen that we are receptive to what God is going to do.

The gospel of God always requires a response of faith.

Of all people, Zechariah should have known that when God says something it is going to happen. But his humanity got wrapped around his belief.

The name Zechariah means God has remembered.

Even in the midst of the uncertainty of life, God has not forgotten about you.

As always, God made good on his promise. Elizabeth is found to be pregnant and ultimately she gives birth to a boy.

When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John." They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name." Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, "His name is John." Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, "What then is this child going to be?" For the Lord’s hand was with him.” Luke 1:57-66

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