Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Like Zechariah

"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come to His people and redeemed them.  He has raised up a horn of salvation for us...to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and enable us to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days."

These words are from the song Zechariah sings when he finally gets his voice back after the long silence during his wife Elisabeth's pregnancy.  He didn't take God at His word when he was told a son was coming, so the voice with which he raised in doubt was stripped away for the duration.  All those months, while she grew large with child, that belly was a 'told you so' right in his face, and he couldn't say a word about it.  Couldn't argue, couldn't defend his own doubts, couldn't even say he was sorry.  Nope, he just had to be about his business, pondering what had happened, what would happen, what it might mean.  God had sent an angel straight to his door, and he'd questioned him. 

Not the done thing, my friends.  That's what this story tells us.  An angel shows up and tells you something will happen, it behooves you (yes, I just used that word, and I meant it!!!) to stand at attention.  More like...
well, more like young girl, Mary, than the aged man, Zechariah. Zechariah asks,"How can I be sure of this?" Mary asks a similar question of the angel, you know.  She asks, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" there's a world of difference between the two questions.  Mary's question was a process question.  Zechariah's--'How can I be sure?' is clearly a matter of  disbelief--I don't trust you.  Give me some kind of sign.

But what is fascinating is that God was already on the move.  And He did give Zechariah a sign. Two, actually.  The baby was already growing, and the silence had only begun.  Each lasted about the same length of time, I'm guessing.  And who knows, maybe Elisabeth didn't mind the silence all that much. 

But baby is born and Zechariah, who won't doubt God again, writes on a tablet that he shall be named John. And with that obedience, he gets his voice, and immediately begins praising God.  Then he just can't contain himself and breaks into song, the way the holy people of God always do at such moments.  It doesn't make a whit of difference what kind of voice they have, whether they're trained, are pitch-perfect or can't carry a tune in a bucket, they just have to use melody to give God the glory.

But this Song is full of profound truth.  The horn of Salvation, which is the Messiah--Jesus, saves and transforms and gives us power to serve Him in holiness and righteousness. He enables us, via His Spirit to do this, without fear.  Fear, as we know from many other scriptures, is NOT of God. Of course. But beyond that, we are given Holy-Spirit-ability to BE holy and righteous. We need not/must not settle for almost holy, or simply live as forgiven sinners, which we were to begin with.  We get to move beyond that. By Him, we are enabled to be much, much more.  Holy as He is Holy.  All the righteousness of Christ is in us.  This is a profound promise.  Almost beyond comprehension in the flesh.  But here it is.

In my work, holiness.
In my conversation, righteousness.
In my thoughts, Godliness.
In my habits, Christlikeness.
In all things, glorifying.  Glorify Yourself in me.

I don't ask for much, Lord. Simply this: help me to sing like Zechariah every day of my life.