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Zechariah is promised a son

Zechariah is stuck dumb in disbelief about God's promise of a son.
Contributed by LUMO project
Story also available on our translated websites: Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Arabic, Simplified Chinese
In the time of King Herod, there was a priest named Zechariah who was married to Elizabeth. Both of them loved and obeyed God but they had not been able to have children. – Slide 1
They were now both too old to have a family. – Slide 2
Once, when Zechariah’s division of priests was on duty at the Temple, they cast lots to see who would go into the temple and burn incense in the inner sanctuary. – Slide 3
The lots were cast. – Slide 4
And Zachariah was chosen. – Slide 5
While all the assembled worshippers were praying outside, Zechariah made his way into the inner sanctuary ... – Slide 6
He burnt incense on the altar. The smoke rising was a picture of the prayers of God’s people rising up to Him. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, standing on the right side of the altar. – Slide 7
‘Don’t be afraid!’ the angel said. ‘God has heard your prayer and Elizabeth will bear you a son! You are to name him John. You will both celebrate his birth with great joy. Your son, John, will be one of the Lord’s great men and be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before he is born! He must never touch wine or alcohol. – Slide 8
‘The angel explained that John would help many Jews to turn back to God. ‘He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah, who will prepare people for the arrival of the Messiah,’ the angel announced. ‘He will get people ready for God.’ – Slide 9
Zachariah replied, ‘Do you expect me to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is an old woman.’ Then the angel said, ‘I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was He who sent me to you with this good news! And now, because you haven’t believed me, you will be unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly come true at the proper time.’ – Slide 10
Meanwhile the crowds outside were waiting for Zachariah to appear and wondered why he was taking so long. – Slide 11
When he finally came out, he tried to speak and explain what had happened but could not make a sound. – Slide 12
So he used gestures instead. The crowd understood from the signs he made that he must have seen a vision. He remained on duty at the Temple, unable to speak, until his duties were over and he could return home. – Slide 13
Soon afterwards Elizabeth his wife became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. – Slide 14
‘How kind the Lord is,’ she exclaimed, ‘to give me a child!’ – Slide 15
When the baby was born, just at the angel had promised, it was a boy. News of the birth spread quickly to her neighbours and relatives of how kind the Lord had been to Elizabeth. Everyone rejoiced. – Slide 16
When the baby was eight days old, all the relatives and friends came for the circumcision ceremony. They all assumed the baby would be named Zachariah, after his father. But Elizabeth said, ‘No! He must be named John!’ It was the name the angel had told Zechariah to give his son. ‘What?’ they exclaimed. ‘There is no one in all your family by that name.’ So they asked Zechariah, talking to him by gestures. – Slide 17
Zechariah motioned for a something to write on. – Slide 18
To everyone’s surprise he wrote, ‘His name is John.’ – Slide 19
Instantly Zachariah could speak again, and he began praising God. – Slide 20
Everyone was amazed and the news of what had happened spread through the Judean hills. They asked, ‘I wonder who this child will turn out to be? For the Lord is with him in a special way.’ – Slide 21
Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy. ‘Praise the Lord, for He has come to redeem His people. He is sending us a Mighty Saviour from the royal line of His servant David, just as He promised through His holy prophets long ago. He is giving us the privilege of serving God fearlessly, freed from our enemies, and by making us holy and acceptable, ready to stand in His presence forever. – Slide 22
‘And you, my little son, shall be called the prophet of the glorious God, for you will prepare the way for the Messiah. You will tell His people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. All this will be because the mercy of our God who is very tender. Heaven’s dawn is about to break, to give light to those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow, and to guide us to the path of peace.’ – Slide 23
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