Fathers of the Bible: Zacharias, the Righteous Father

Zacharias and Elisabeth are an older couple, who are childless. Their season of childbearing had passed by.

We do learn something about their character. 

Zacharias and Elisabeth:

“And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”  {Luke 1:6}

Elisabeth is from a priestly family and Zechariah is a priest, who has received the highest honor of offering the sacrifice in the holy of holies. 

“according to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to enter into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.”  {Luke 1:9}

Entering into the holy of holies was a special honor that most priests were lucky if they were given the opportunity once in their lifetime.

Zecharias and Elisabeh were barren

While he is burning the incense an angel appears to him and delivers the most unbelievable news.

“And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of altar of incense” {Luke 1:11}

One can imagine the disbelief and shock which came upon Zechariah when the angel suddenly appeared.

 “And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.”  {Luke 1:12}

“This is the first messenger of the New Dispensation.”   {Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament.}

Zecharias and Elisabeh were faithful to the Lord

“But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: because thy supplication is heard, and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John”  {Luke 1:13}

Imagine after all these years, receiving word that his wife is going to have a son.  This isn’t from a prophet or sorceress but from an angel.  An angel sent by God.

After years of praying and hoping and believing, his prayer was finally coming true.  He couldn’t believe it.

“And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.”   {Luke 1:18}

Zacharias did not believe

Although an angel was before him, Zacharias wanted a sign.  It was too good to be true.  He had trouble processing and believing the truth.  How many times have we seen concrete proof and had trouble believing?  Maybe, like Zacharias we are in shock and disbelief.

Gabriel isn’t happy about his unbelief and strikes him mute.  This only enforces the fact that Zechariah is an unbelieving father.  However, he won’t stay this way forever.

“And behold, thou shalt be silent and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall come to pass, because thou believedst not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.”  {Luke 1:20}

Imagine when Zacharias appears from the holy of holies and can’t speak.  He is gesturing wildly and writing about the revelation.  People are wondering what happened.

Zacharias wrote his name is John

Then Zacharias goes home and tells Elisabeth about the unexpected messenger.  We can feel her heart jumping with joy!

Elisabeth became pregnant and the child grew within her.  During this time Mary visits and learns of the visit Zechariah received.  He would have had to write out all he wanted to say or depend on Elisabeth to share his heart.

Elisabeth’s time comes and she gives birth to a son.  When they take him to the temple, the people want to name him after his father, but his mother insist his name is John. But, the unbelieving father is about to become the believing father.  So, what happens?

The people asked Zacharias

“And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.”  {John 1:63}

“He shall be called Johanan, or “Gracious,” because he shall bring in the gospel of Christ, wherein God’s grace shines most bright.”   {Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary.}

And they marveled.   “Being surprised that both parents should thus unite upon an unexpected name.”

“ And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, blessing God.”  {John 1:64}

Zacharias was immediately able to speak, upon writing down his son’s name.  after months of being mute, his tongue was finally loosened.

Zacharias began to praise God

“The remarkable circumstances attending the birth of John, and the fact that Zacharias was suddenly restored to speech, convinced them that God was there, and filled their minds with awe and veneration.”   {Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament.}

He became the believing father.

Zacharias and Elisabeth are old when their son is born.  We don’t know how old their son was when they passed away. 

By the time John the Baptist takes his place as a forerunner for the Christ, he comes from the wilderness.

Zacharias and Elisabeth with John

“John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” {Mark 1:4}

What we can be sure of is his parents instilled a great love of the Lord within their son and probably told him about the miraculous account of his birth {and possibly the Messiah’s birth}.

So while Zacharias went from an unbelieving father to a believing father, we can be sure he was also a righteous father.

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