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13But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.

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13. Fear not, Zacharias The glory of God, it ought to be observed, is not so appalling to the saints as to swallow them up entirely with dread, but only to cast them down from a foolish confidence, that they may behold him with humility. As soon, therefore, as God has abased the pride of the flesh in those who believe in him, he stretches out his hand to raise them up. He acts differently towards the reprobate; for at whatever time they are dragged before the tribunal of God, they are overwhelmed by absolute despair: and thus does God justly reward their vain delights, in which they give themselves up to the intoxicating wantonness of sin. We ought, therefore, to accept this consolation, with which the angel soothes Zacharias, that we have no reason to fear, when God is gracious to us. For they are greatly mistaken who, in order to enjoy peace, hide themselves from the face of God, whereas we ought to acquaint ourselves with him and be at peace, (Job 22:21.)

Thy prayer is heard Zacharias may seem to have acted an improper part, and inconsistent with the nature of his office, if, on entering the Holy Place in the name of all the people, he prayed as a private man that he might obtain offspring; for, when the priest sustained a public character, he ought, in forgetfulness as it were of himself, to offer prayers for the general welfare of the Church. If we say that there was no absurdity in Zacharias, after performing the chief part of the prayer, devoting the second part of it to private meditations about himself, the reply will not be without weight. But it is hardly probable that Zacharias did, at that time, pray to obtain a son, of which he had despaired on account of his wife’s advanced age; nor indeed can any precise moment be drawn from the words of the angel. I interpret it, therefore, simply that his prayer was at length heard, which he had poured out before God for a long period. That the desire of having children, if it be not excessive, is consistent with piety and holiness, may be gathered from Scripture, which assigns to it not the lowest place among the blessings of God.

Thou shalt call his name John The name was given, I think, to the Baptist in order to heighten the authority of his office. יהוהנן, (1 Chronicles 3:15,) for which the Greeks employ ᾿Ιωάννης, signifies in Hebrew the grace of the Lord Many suppose that the son of Zacharias was so called, because he was beloved of God. I rather think that it was intended to recommend not the grace which God bestowed upon him as a private individual, but that grace which his mission would bring to all. The force and weight of the name are increased by its date; for it was before he was born that God inscribed on him this token of his favor.




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