Biblical People

Biblical People: Zechariah (22)

Elderly Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, have no kids. They’re past their childbearing years. From a human perspective, having a baby is impossible, yet they pray for one anyway. 

They’re a righteous pair, Zechariah and Elizabeth. They obey all God’s commands and follow his rules—all of them. They’re descendants of Aaron. In addition, Zechariah works for God. He’s a priest. 

Did you catch that?

They’re good people. They’re obedient and do the right things. They have the ideal heritage, and Zechariah lives to serve God. 

For all this devotion, shouldn’t God bless them with the child they yearn for? Yet each year passes and no baby. Still they continue to pray for a kid.

Then things change.

One day the angel Gabriel shows up at the temple, right when Zechariah’s supposed to burn the incense for church. How inconvenient. The people are waiting for Zechariah to kick off their religious ceremony. Couldn’t Gabriel have come a few minutes later?

But Gabriel has good news. God will soon answer Zechariah and Elizabeth’s years of prayers. They’ll finally have a baby, a son. “Name him John.”

And how does Zechariah respond? He says, “Really? Elizabeth and I are too old.”

Frankly, I’d say that too.

Gabriel takes this as a sign of unbelief. To make his point, he removes Zechariah’s ability to talk, which makes it difficult for the poor guy to lead worship. He gestures to let the people know he has seen a vision from God. Astonishing.

When his stint in the temple is over, Zechariah goes home, still mute. Take time to imagine what happens when he arrives, what he communicates through gestures, and most importantly, what happens next.

Elizabeth gets pregnant. God is good.

How long will we wait for God to answer our prayers and give us what we yearn for? Do we have faith to believe in the improbable? The impossible?

[Discover more about Zechariah in Luke 1:5–25.]

Read more about other biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at