Luke 1:67-80 (ESV)
67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, 68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” 80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

Luke records what Zechariah said after he was able to speak again. Remember, Zechariah was mute for nine months because he didn’t believe the angel’s message from God. The people who were with Zechariah and Elizabeth at John’s circumcision were afraid, wondering who this child would grow up to be because of the many unusual events surrounding his birth. So the Holy Spirit filled Zechariah, and Zechariah announced that his son, John, was the prophet spoken of in the Old Testament, the one chosen to go before Israel’s Messiah. God’s plan to redeem his people was moving forward. The Lord had not forgotten his children. Then, Zechariah encouraged the people around him to praise God because he had come to redeem his people. Zechariah explained how God would deliver Israel through her Messiah, who is called the “horn of salvation.” In the Old Testament, the horn was a symbol of strength and power. Just as the horn of an animal served to destroy the animal’s enemies while protecting its own head, the Messiah would destroy the enemies of Israel. In verses 76-79, Zechariah calls specific attention to the role of his own newborn son. As the angel Gabriel previously said, John would prepare God’s people for the Messiah. John was appointed to do this by proclaiming to the nation a message about sin and salvation.

As John grew up he became strong in his spirit, he secluded himself in the wilderness or the desert until it was time for him to appear to the people of Israel. It is encouraging to see the growth of John and the “growth” of Zechariah. God benched Zechariah for nine months because of his unbelief. But when Zechariah was called back up to the plate, he was stronger than ever. In verse 73, Zechariah boldly proclaims that God was in the process of fulfilling the oath he made to his people, even all the way back to Abraham. Zechariah learned, without a doubt, that God keeps his promises. If you have suffered a spiritual setback, don’t despair. Instead, use the season of discipline to grow even more confident of God’s hand on your life and the lives of his people. God doesn’t allow any circumstance in our walk with him to be wasted. Even in the “down time,” he is doing a work in the hearts of those who follow Jesus.