“The angel said, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth… He will turn many… to the Lord, and go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah…’
“Zechariah said, ‘How shall I know this? I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.’ The angel answered,.. ‘I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to… bring you this good news. You will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time…’
“The time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son… ‘He shall be called John.’ [Her neighbors and relatives] said, ‘None of your relatives is called by this name.’ They made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John…’ Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God…
“‘Blessed be the Lord God,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us…
that we… might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.'” Luke 1:13-14,16,18-20,57,60b-64,68-69,74-75
Zechariah was going about his duty when the angel appeared, and in an instant, an ordinary day turned into an extraordinary rest of his life. This aged priest and his barren wife would have the joy of bearing and raising a son great before the LORD? His disbelief at such a pledge rendered him nine months dumb. Nine long months of watching their God-given child change his wife’s body. Nine months of pondering the God who would do this, and the wonder of why. Nine months of voiceless communion, worship, and intimacy with the Lord like none other. (Luke 1:8-12,15)
Then, upon John’s birth and naming according to divine decree, Zechariah’s tongue loosed, and out flowed praise.
Small, yet powerful. Tongues that praise also- and quickly- utter dubiety, sarcasm, nonsense, criticism, and cursing. At times, God would have them struck inert. What a difference it would make if we more often held our tongues and pondered God over the moment: Lord of nations, King of kings, Father of the fatherless, Bread of life. Contemplating Him and His promises would silence worry, placate fear, immobilize unbelief, and soothe sorrow. (Psalm 68:5; Jeremiah 10:7; John 6:35,48; 1 Timothy 6:15-16; James 3:2-10)
And what if, when loosed, our tongues spoke only praise for all God has done, encouragement from His word, and gospel truth? When we take silence to think on the depths of God, His Spirit imparts His mind to inform and shape our message. (Mark 7:35-36; 1 Corinthians 2:2-4,9-13,16; 14:3)
Why might God want to silence, or let loose, our tongues today?
“O for a thousand tongues to sing
my great Redeemer’s praise,
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace!
My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim,
to spread thro’ all the earth abroad
the honors of your name.” ~Charles Wesley (1739)