And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time." (Luke 1:19-20)
I always laugh when I get to this part of the story. Zechariah demands proof that God will keep His promise, and the angel more or less rolls his eyes, points to himself, and says, "Hello! You are talking to an angel right here, right now, sent from God! What more do you need? But you want another sign. Fine. How about this: You get to be quiet for a little while. Just about ... nine months."
Laughter has a place in the Christmas story, because our God is a God of surprises—and a God of mercy, too. When we fall into sin and doubt, God doesn't zap us. He calls us back to Himself. When necessary, He disciplines us, but He does it for our good and for our eventual blessing. It must have been hard for Zechariah to endure silence for nine months—but what joy was at the end of it!
We, too, fall into sin and doubt—and how greatly we need God to call us back to Him out of our darkness. This is why Jesus came for us—to find us and to bring us back, patiently and lovingly and joyfully, and to restore us to God the Father. "Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, 'The Lord has done great things for them.' The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad" (Psalm 126:2-3).
THE PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for all the great things You have done for me. Amen.
* Have you ever really "put your foot in your mouth," as Zechariah did?
* Does it surprise you to think of God as a God of laughter?
* Name one great thing the Lord has done for you.
Advent Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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