This is part #2 in an advent series on the Songs of the Incarnation…
Men have never had much success winning quarrels with the angels. It got Jacob a dislocated hip and Zechariah was 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 godly response to the work of the Lord on her behalf.
You can imagine Zechariah, after nine months of being unable to speak, opening his mouth to prophecy after the birth of his son. In this piece of prophetic poetry, he uses Old Testament language to express how God is worthy of praise because he has acted according to his promises (Gen 22:16-18) to deliver his people through a descendant of David. In the second part of the song (verses 76-79) Zechariah addresses his newly born child, with literary allusions to Isa 40:3 and Mal 3:1.
When we sing the songs of Advent, in many ways we are singing the song of Zechariah. We are singing songs founded on the images and promises of hope and expectation. By the time of Zechariah, the Jewish people hadn’t heard from a true prophet of God in four hundred years. (Knowing this, you can start to understand Zechariah’s hard heart in the face of Gabriel’s message of good news.) For us, it has been over two thousand years since we have heard from the living Jesus. Every year we remember his birth, and the advent of the good news of his work. As we remember, we also hunger and long for him to return to complete the work of redemption in our lives and in the created world.
Mike Crawford – The Dawn Will Break Upon Us