We Cannot Afford Not to Trust the Lord

We Cannot Afford Not to Trust the Lord

End of year 2023 meditation

Author: Daniel Amari/Saturday, January 6, 2024/Categories: Christianity, The Bible, New Testament, Luke, Christian Life, Article, English

We Cannot Afford Not to Trust the Lord

End of year 2023 meditation

Daniel Amari

 

Luke 1:57   Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son.

 

The Lord made a promise to Zechariah, and He fulfilled His words exactly at the appointed time, not a moment before. Matthew Henry, in his commentary on Luke 1:57, emphasized that the Lord's fulfillment of His promise was precise and in accordance with the predetermined schedule.

 

58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord  had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.

 

Note that the abundant mercy of the Lord became evident not only to Elizabeth but also to her neighbors and relatives. The people who may have previously dismissed Elizabeth were now made aware of the profound mercy of the Lord, and it was not just any mercy but rather great mercy.

 

There will come a time when others around you will hear of the great things that the Lord will do in your life. The blessings of the Lord will not be confined to your private experience but will be known to others, and they will come to rejoice with you.

 

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.

 

Let us discuss an essential point. It is evident that Zechariah communicated with Elizabeth in writing. Zechariah had the ability to write, and either Elizabeth could read, or she enlisted someone else with that skill.

 

In the preceding text, Elizabeth made a resolute statement, declaring, "No, he shall be called John." Elizabeth exhibited notable strength by openly opposing Jewish customs and community expectations in naming the child. Two questions arise concerning the nature and source of this strength.

 

The nature of Elizabeth's strength can be articulated in the following points:

 

  1. Elizabeth first believed her husband. The angel did not appear to Elizabeth; he only appeared to Zechariah. Before Elizabeth believed the angel, she trusted her husband.
  2. Elizabeth then believed the word of the Lord. She believed the word of the Lord that the angel delivered to her husband.
  3. Elizabeth took ownership of this revelation. She did not dismiss it as merely concerning her husband. She did not insist that if the angel had a message for her, he would have appeared to her directly. Instead, she acknowledged that the word, the promise, the accountability, and the ministry given to her husband were equally applicable to her.
  4. Elizabeth stood with her husband when he was incapacitated in defense of the word of the Lord. She emphatically declared to her relatives: No.
  5. Elizabeth compelled her community to respect her husband. Initially, her relatives attempted to bypass Zechariah when deciding on the child's name. However, Elizabeth's insistence led her relatives to consult Zechariah.

 

What kind of strength is this? This is not the modern version of 'strength' where a person boasts of their independence, insisting that they can say whatever they want and do whatever they like. In fact, this is not strength but utter weakness. It is the sinful nature that boasts of rebellion, independence, and pride.

 

Elizabeth is strong because she chose to believe the word of God and stand by her husband. This is the essence of Elizabeth’s strength.

 

The second question: where did that strength come from? In reading the text, I believe that Elizabeth came to the conclusion that she could not afford not to trust the word of God. She saw firsthand the ramifications of not believing the word of God. She witnessed the silence that Zechariah endured. She said to herself, "We cannot afford it. We have no choice but to trust the word of God." In other words, she feared the Lord.

 

Earlier in verse 6, they were both described as following all the commandments of the Lord. However, this new attitude of theirs represents a different level of the fear of God. Elizabeth came to a point where she not only followed the commandments of the Lord, but she also trusted in the promises of God for her life.

 

In other words, there is a difference between following God’s commandments, and also trusting the promises, providence, protection, and goodness that the Lord has for her life and her family. The latter is a higher form of the fear of the Lord.

 

God has many wonderful promises for His children. For example, the Lord teaches in Romans 8:28 that He works all things for the good of His children. To fear the Lord is to believe in the promises of the Lord. In this case, to fear the Lord is to trust that the Lord works all things for good. It signifies reaching a point where we are reluctant to entertain doubts about the goodness of the Lord in our lives.

 

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.

 

Commentators emphasize Zechariah's use of the present tense rather than the future tense, underscoring a significant point. Zechariah did not write, "His name will be John," but rather, "His name is John." This choice signifies Zechariah's firm conviction that the name John was decisively determined when the Lord first proclaimed it. In essence, Zechariah affirmed the absolute and conclusive authority of God's word.

 

Zechariah's attitude towards God's words underwent a remarkable transformation from his initial encounter with the angel. What brought about this change in Zechariah? Let Darrell Bock explain:

 

The key point is that Zechariah learned from his period of silence. The sign of silence worked; he, even as an already righteous man (1:6), learned to trust God’s word even more.[1]

 

During his period of silence, Zechariah had the opportunity to learn and reflect on the broader context of the blessings bestowed upon him by the Lord and the profound privilege granted to him.

 

James Edwards highlights that when Zechariah affirmed the word of the Lord, his silence was overturned, and he experienced restoration. This turnaround led to a continuous expression of praise to God.[2] The Lord wants words of praise coming out of our mouth and not disbelief. He silences us to teach us to trust and to praise.

 

But why praise when faith is restored? Because faith sees how awesome God is and the wonderful goodness He has for His children even during their low valleys. Praise is the fruit of faith.

 

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.

 

The specific experience of trusting God's word and having faith in the Lord instills a sense of reverence or fear. Why does this happen? The neighbors witnessed the presence and nearness of the Lord with the child. It is important to observe how the Lord worked in the hearts of Zechariah and Elizabeth, cultivating a deep reverence for Him. This, in turn, led to the fear of the Lord spreading among the people surrounding them.

 

The silence endured by Zechariah was seen by others as the end of his ministry and the end of the work of the Lord in his life. Nevertheless, when it was the time for restoration of Zechariah, due to his trust in the Lord, the Lord was feared by far more people at the presence of the Lord with the child, and the Lord’s hands were seen at work. The restoration of the Lord brought greater ministry. Zechariah had the greater ministry of raising the greatest prophet who prepared the way of the Lord.

 

 

[1]Darrell L. Bock, Luke 1:1-9:50, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1994), 169.

[2]James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Luke, Pillar New Testament Commentary. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015), 59.

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Daniel Amari
Daniel Amari

Daniel Amari

Researcher in Islam, Christian Apologist, Author, Speaker

Other posts by Daniel Amari
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Full biography

President of the Religion Research Institute, Author, Researcher in Islam, Christian Apologist, Guest, Host and Co-host of scholarly apologetics shows on TV and Social Media. President of the Religion Research Institute, an evangelical scholarly ministry dedicated to comparative religion, Islamic research, and Christian apologetics. Master of arts in New testament with focus on Biblical languages and Textual Criticism.

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