Advent Devotional: Week 4, Part 2

By Bruce Benedict & Elliot Grudem  /  

week four of advent

The Darker Side of Christmas #2 – The Disbelief of Zechariah

Men have never had much success winning a quarrel with the angels. It got Jacob a dislocated hip and Zechariah struck dumb. In response to Gabriel’s incredible speech about a son that will be born to him, a son who will be great before the Lord, and will bring joy and gladness to many souls, Zechariah, a man that served God with his whole life, finds a quick word of disbelief falling easily from his lips.

Zechariah’s mind should have been cast back to the faithful women of the Old Testament who gave birth when they were “advanced in years” because of the goodness of the Lord. Instead he is struck dumb and exits the temple waving his arms like a fool. His wife Elizabeth(as we read a few verses later), has a much godlier response to the work of the Lord on her behalf.

Luke 1:8-23
8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “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. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, 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.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

Shedding some light...

God wants us to know that even those in the inner circle of God’s miraculous work were confounded by their own sin and lack of faith from hearing the “good news.” God is a patient Father and a long-suffering teacher in regard to his message sinking into our hearts and minds. Think about the places and reasons you find it difficult to believe God.

Children’s Prayer

God, help us know you better. And help us believe you better.

Adults’ Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, the news that you bring to us in the story of Jesus is hard to hear; it is beyond our full understanding. Give us faith to grasp the will of heaven and joy to live in the work of the Spirit.

Advent Singing: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent

Advent Devotional Guide Download

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Compilation and Text
Bruce Benedict

Elliot Grudem

Ladye Jane Vickers

Amelia Reynolds

PO Box 10095 | Raleigh, NC 27605
919-546-0515 |