This story happened about 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, Israel. The Jewish people had a big building something like a church that was called the Temple. God had said that all the men who were descendants of Moses’ brother, Aaron, were supposed to work at the Temple doing various jobs. They were called priests. One of their jobs was to burn incense, something that smelled very nice, in an inner room of the Temple, called “the holy place.”
There were so many descendants of Aaron at the time of this story that they took turns doing the various jobs. It just happened that Zechariah was chosen to be the one to burn incense inside the Temple, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him. He was probably really excited to go in the Temple into a special room that few people ever got to see! Imagine how shocked he was when an angel named Gabriel suddenly appeared before him! Have you ever been scared in your own house when you suddenly saw a family member whom you didn’t know was in the same room with you? Think of how you’d feel if it was someone you didn’t recognize. What if it was someone who looked like an angel? No wonder Zechariah was “overwhelmed with fear” (Luke 1:12).
The angel told Zechariah some amazing news: In answer to his prayer, his elderly wife would have a special baby. Zechariah’s son would be a great prophet and preacher, and by the Holy Spirit’s power, he would persuade many people in Israel to quit sinning. That way, they would be prepared for another very special person who was about to come: God in the form of a man!
Zechariah didn’t believe what he heard because he thought he and his wife were too old to have a baby. They were as old or older than your grandparents! But nothing is too hard for God, and Zechariah should have believed what he heard. It was an angel who spoke to him, and that angel had just come from heaven to deliver the message from God.
God was a little bit angry with Zechariah’s unbelief, so He took away Zechariah’s ability to talk for about nine months! God expects us to believe what He says because He never lies. A lesson we can learn from Zechariah is that it is better to say nothing at all than to say something that disagrees with what God has said. God is always right in what He says.
Q. We learned today that many of the Israelite fathers weren’t very good fathers, but when they heard John’s preaching they repented and started to really show their kids that they loved them. What is the most important thing your father or mother could do to show you how much they love you?
A. Teach you about God and the Bible! (So you must have good parents!)
Q. When do you think Zechariah prayed to have a son?
A. Probably many years before when he was a younger man, since he didn’t believe it was possible for his wife to have a baby even after hearing the angel’s message. Our prayers are not always answered as soon as we’d like.
Application: God’s Word is always true, so we should never say anything that contradicts what God has said.