Monday: Psalm 140, 143, Numbers 25, Luke 1.57-80

from Lexi Carver

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.

Reading this passage in Luke, where Zecharias speaks again, I found myself drawn to the ideas of silence and sound.

There is a gap of several hundred years between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament (often named by Christians as a period where God has been silent - or where, at least, we don't have records of God bringing prophetic messages to the Jewish people). One of the first stories of the New Testament is about a man moving from muteness to speech; and when Zecharias' mouth is opened, the first words he speaks are praising God for something powerful that God is about to do.

What are we to make of this? To me, Luke's clever depiction of Zecharias' muteness mirrors this empty period in our Scriptures. Whether this was a literal 400-year period of silence or whether this is being used as a literary tool, I don't know. But I noticed anew that this period of silence - God's muteness, if you will - is first broken by a promise: God is visiting. God is rescuing. God is defending and protecting. God is sending a baby to prepare and lay the path for the Rescuer who is going to save his people.

I'm immensely encouraged by the idea of a huge promise breaking a period of muteness - a period of nothingness, where life has gone on with us wondering where God is and why we aren't hearing from him. During times in my life where God's voice seemed visibly absent, I have been frustrated, angry, heartbroken, and confused. I have wondered if the long silence means God no longer cares; or has stopped paying attention; or has gotten stuck in traffic, missed our appointment, and gone home without me. When these silences in my life have lifted, I have found myself relieved and glad at their completion; yet I often look back and realize that the silence was not actually empty of God's hand and work, even if my longing for his voice in my ear went unfulfilled.

The fact that this muteness is depicted in the Bible as lasting several generations (hundreds of years) does not exactly please me, but it does remind me of that last part. It helps me to have a longer view of the larger story that we are all part of; to remember that sometimes, God's voice is waiting just on the other side of a long silence.