This post is a continuation of yesterday’s devotional, which you can find here.
In spite of Zechariah’s unbelief, God still kept His promise to him. Gabriel’s pronouncement to the elderly priest, even after his unabashed articulation of doubt, was “My words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time” (v. 20b, NLT). Sure enough, around nine months later, Zechariah was holding a miracle baby in his previously empty arms. His very own son!
I find this extremely encouraging. Even when you and I fall short of trusting our loving Daddy as He deserves to be trusted, He never breaks His word. He always keeps His promises, whether we are full of faith as Mary was, or tossed to and fro by disbelief as Zechariah.
When fulfillment time came, aging Zechariah and teenage Mary suddenly had a whole lot in common. They both were overflowing with joy! Listen to the praise for God that burst forth from each one:
Exhibit A: “And Mary said, ‘He who is mighty has done great things for me… He has helped his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.’” (Luke 1:46a, 49, 54-55, bold emphasis mine).
Exhibit B: “Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, because he has come to help… He has done this to show mercy to our ancestors, and to remember his holy covenant – the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham” (Luke 1:67-73, NET, bold emphasis mine).
Again, these passages are just a few verses apart. The parallelism continues. The contrast in Zechariah and Mary’s stories serves to illustrate God’s expansive, unconditional faithfulness. In the end, whether or not we have fully believed God’s word to us, He always brings it to fulfillment!
Doubting Zechariah and trusting Mary both learned, firsthand, that the Mighty One is a covenant-keeping God. He never forgets a promise He makes. Ever. This is one of the most essential themes running through the Christmas story. The eternal Word of the Father stepped out of heaven and into human skin, to fulfill His covenant oath to His children. God swore, and God delivered. This is how it goes with our God, because this is who He is.
“Even when we are too weak to have any faith left, he remains faithful to us and will help us, for he cannot disown us who are part of himself, and he will always carry out his promises to us” (2 Tim. 2:13, TLB).