“ In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees
blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.” Luke 1:5-7.
Not many people in the Bible (pre-Jesus’s death and resurrection) are called righteous. Zechariah and Elizabeth were therefore in a special class, yet in spite of their righteousness they had no children because Elizabeth was barren. They had waited and waited, prayed and prayed but God seemed to have shut her womb. They had accepted their fate and were now advanced in years.
From Zechariah’s interaction with Angel Gabriel (v. 11) it was clear that at some point they stopped believing that God would give them children. They understood that it just was not meant to be for them.
So, when on an ordinary day, Zechariah went into the temple to perform his priestly duty and an angel brought an answer to his prayer, his response was that of unbelief. The angel said “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.” Zechariah responded “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” If God did not respond fifty years ago, why would he respond now? Now that Elizabeth’s womb and breasts were dry, how could she carry and nurture a child?
See Zechariah being a priest not only knew about Abraham and Sarah, Hannah, Manoah and his wife, Isaac and Rebecca and even Rachel, but he must have taught it to the people countless times over decades. He knew how God caused all these seemingly barren women to conceive, some in their old age! I guess he never thought it could happen for him. Somehow the same God who did it for Sarah did not or could not or had somehow lost the ability to do it again. Perhaps the God of five hundred years ago, one thousand years ago, two thousand years ago was not the same God of his time.
I know you feel the same way too sometimes. You have many questions, you have given up on some dreams or declared them pipe dreams, you have accepted that some door for you will never open. Though day after day you show up in the Lord’s house, you sing of His goodness and dance to His glory and you shout about His faithfulness, deep down you have accepted that that job, that marriage, that child, that good health, that prosperity will just not happen for you. You look at all the dryness around you and you conclude that [good] things like these do not happen to people like you.
You cannot help but notice that all these children born to the people listed were more than great men in their time whose lives affected many and continue to affect us many generations later. Isaac. Jacob. Joseph. Samson. Samuel. John the Baptist.
Jesus once said ““Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist…” (Matthew 11:11). Yes, He was talking about the son born to Zechariah and Elizabeth in their old age. So wait for it, when God does it, it will be anything but ordinary!