The Silence is Broken

The Advent season is a time of anticipation, waiting, and preparation. During the month of December, Time With God will break from its regular format to explore selected passages and characters connected with the coming of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with Us.


Silence can be deafening. Sometimes it can also go unnoticed. At the start of today’s passage, Israel had not heard from the Lord through a prophet in over 400 years. Bible scholars call this period the “Intertestamental Period.” It was just quiet. For some, it was a time when they were looking for the quiet to be broken. But most people had adjusted to the silence.

Then a word from the Lord came through a priest, Zechariah, saying the Lord was going to come and pay a visit…


57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,

for he has visited and redeemed his people

69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us

in the house of his servant David,

70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

71 that we should be saved from our enemies

and from the hand of all who hate us;

72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers

and to remember his holy covenant,

73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us

74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,

might serve him without fear,

75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people

in the forgiveness of their sins,

78 because of the tender mercy of our God,

whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high

79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


It wasn’t the first time God had paid Israel a visit, but there is always the question—why? Is it a visit of judgment or mercy? Zechariah quickly revealed that the Lord’s visit was to be one of redemption and grace.

And this would not be just any visit. It would be because the Lord, in spite of the silence, had compassionately remembered his people. He had raised up “a horn of salvation” to be the sole agent of Israel’s redemption. He had not forgotten his promise to his people—his promise of protection and mercy.

Zechariah gave an additional word that ought to pull us into action and not just adoration. He said the Lord had provided all these things so that “we might serve him without fear.” The Lord has visited us in his compassion and power—“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel!”—in order that we might serve him without fear. Our service is not the end goal, but it is a part of the adoration and worship of the Messiah, of Immanuel—God with us. He has visited us because he has remembered us. And during his visit, he has redeemed us so that we may serve him fearlessly.

Fearless service to a compassionate God—it’s the call of Advent, the coming of God with us.