The morning light from heaven is about to break upon us… Luke 1:78 (NLT)
These beautiful words are spoken by Zechariah the Priest once he gets his voice back. Do these words describe something of your sense of expectation this advent as we anticipate celebrating the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ? It is so often difficult to stay focused on what the season is really about. So many other things demand our attention. How many of us smiled wryly if we were in church when the advent candle representing peace was lit? Peace, in the run-up to Christmas? Aye, right! 1
Zechariah had an ‘Aye, right!’ moment at work the best part of a year before he uttered the words quoted above. In what was the high point of his career, he was burning the incense in the inner sanctuary of the temple – an honour each priest got only once in their working life. On that very day, in that very place, God broke his 400 years of silence and promised a son to Zechariah and Elizabeth: John the Baptist would be the forerunner of the Messiah. Zechariah’s ‘Aye, right!’ response was because they had been unable to conceive and were now too old. Not an unreasonable response.
We may speculate on several reasons why Zechariah was struck dumb after he expressed his doubt that God could or would do what the angel was promising. The angel’s response to his doubt was quite indignant (Luke 1:19).
The people waiting outside were distressed because the Priest was supposed to speak a blessing of peace when he came out of the sanctuary.
There seems to be a link between peace and promises. Zechariah doubted God’s promise and, therefore, could not pronounce God’s peace over the people. Do we find our peace in the promises of God? In the time between God’s promise being given and Elizabeth giving birth, Zechariah’s faith returned. He obviously faced his doubt and believed again that God can be trusted absolutely. May this Christmas be a time when our doubts can be transformed to faith and trust as we recall that God has kept his promise to send a Saviour. Therein lies our true peace.
Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. Luke 1:78,79 (NLT)
1 A Scottish expression where two positive words indicate a negative reaction.