Once a year a favored priest was selected to enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. He prepared himself for seven days before entering the hallowed room of the temple. This was a once in a life time moment to be chosen as Israel’s anointed mediator—an experience very few people could claim.
Zachariah was richly blessed with the privileged to enter in the Holy Place and stand before the presence of God. The other priests prayed from within the Temple and the crowd of worshippers confessed and offered praises outside the temple walls. The thoughts, attention and energy of all God’s Chosen People were directed to God and the honored high priest on this holy day.
Not only had sanctified rituals made Zachariah’s duties in the Holy of Holies exceptional on this special Day of Atonement, but an angel of the Lord appeared to Zachariah face-to-face. And not just any angel! This was Gabriel the angel who terrified Daniel with his very presence (Daniel 8.17), who explained the prophetic secrets of God’s coming kingdom (Daniel 8.19-26) and who was delayed by the forces of evil 21 days when he was bringing a message to Daniel (Daniel 10.13).
There is 400 years between the Old and New Testament, which are called the silent years, and Zachariah is the beneficiary of God’s first message to His New Testament people! The promise that Gabriel gives him sets the stage for the coming Messiah, the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus, the age of the Church and the time of the Holy Spirit!
When most people exposed to God’s glory fall flat on their faces with a deep awareness of their inadequacies, what does Zachariah do with God’s message? He questions it! Gabriel reveals to Zachariah that God is giving him and his barren wife a son, but he is filled with disbelief: “Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years’” (Luke 1.18 NIV).
And what does Gabriel do? He tongue-tied Zachariah, so he could no longer talk until his promised-child, John the Baptist, was born. “The angel said to him, ‘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 appointed time’” (Luke 1.19-20 NIV).
The power of the tongue speaks life and death, and if Zachariah couldn’t speak life over His promise from God, then Gabriel acted in Zachariah’s best interest when he silenced his mouth (Proverbs 18.21). Zachariah had become his own worst enemy. If it were not for Gabriel, Zachariah’s tongue could have been the strongest force fighting against his God-given destiny, his eternal purpose and the happiness of his family.
This is a powerful truth for us today! When we question God, mistrust His leading and disbelieve His promises, we are actually fighting against our God-given destinies, our eternal purposes and the happiness of our families! If we can’t decide to turn our disbelief into belief, our fear into faith and our death-giving words into life-giving words, we are better off silent!
So before we speak today, we must consider our words. Are we speaking life or death? Are we building up or tearing down? Are we giving God praises or complaints? Are we speaking God’s Truth or the enemy’s lies? We must learn to take captive every thought and submit it to God’s authority, so we can claim God’s promises and fulfill our God-given destinies!
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10.5 NIV).