She had spent her life watching the Lord give other women beautiful children while she remained childless. And then the miracle came. An angel came to her husband and said that she was not only going to have a baby, but that her son was going to have a special role in God’s great, unfolding plan to save humanity from itself. When the time came for Elizabeth to give birth she had a son, just as the angel Gabriel said.
When the people learned that gracious, old, barren Elizabeth had finally had a baby, they knew he had to be a gift from God, and they celebrated! God used the circumstances of Elizabeth’s life to demonstrate that this child was special and set apart for a very high calling.
The time came for the baby to be circumcised just like all little Jewish boys were. It was a great day in the life of Jewish families. It showed that their sons were set apart for the Most High God. It meant they belonged to His family. God had given a law commanding that this would be the sign of Israel’s covenant with Him. Zechariah and Elizabeth were being faithfully obedient to their Lord.
A knife was taken, and a small flap of skin was cut from the boy’s private part. It would hurt for a moment, and it might even bleed, but from that point on, the child was marked in his flesh for the Lord. As the relatives and friends of Elizabeth and Zechariah celebrated this beautiful moment, they began to ask what they were going to name the boy. In Jewish homes, they almost always named their children after their ancestors. They wondered if they would name him after his father, Zechariah. But God had already told Zechariah what to call him. Zechariah still couldn’t speak, so Elizabeth spoke up for him. She said, “‘No! He is to be called John.’”
Everyone thought that was odd. Nobody in their family had ever been called that before! They argued against Elizabeth. This was too strange, it was a break from family tradition! They turned to Zechariah. What name did he want for this baby? He motioned for someone to bring a tablet to write on. True to the words of the angel Gabriel, Zechariah wrote, “‘His name is John.’”
At that very moment, God opened Zechariah’s mouth so he could speak! Zechariah began to praise his good and glorious Lord! The neighbors were amazed, and word about these remarkable events spread. Everyone all over the countryside was talking about the strange and wonderful things that were happening around the life of this baby. They asked, “‘What, then, is this child going to be? For the Lord’s hand was with him.’”
The Holy Spirit filled Zechariah, and he gave this wonderful prophecy about his child;
“‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because He has come and has redeemed His people.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.
As He said through His holy prophets of long ago,
salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us-
to show mercy to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant,
the oath He swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve Him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
And you, My child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him,
to give His people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.’”
Zechariah had grown into a man with fullness of faith.
The son of Zechariah grew up and became strong in the Spirit of God.