But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. …
And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God: and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings.
And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he tarried so long in the temple.
And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. … And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived. – Luke 1:13-25

*   *   *

The conception and birth of John the Baptist parallels those of Isaac and Samuel. The fathers are astonished. After all the times their hopes had been dashed, they had solid grounds for questioning the news.

Even if he was being silenced for a season, Zacharias had good reason to tarry with the angel. It was a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

*   *   *

And this his Spirit by which his People are led, is an infallible Spirit. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)

 

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