You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other strong drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man in the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.
Can you imagine if you had just found out you were a father and someone told you all this before your child was born? Here is Zechariah. He is an old man. He should not be able to have kids. He would have felt blessed to have just been told he would have a son. God goes a lot farther than that. He is not only going to have a son, but his son is going to be a great man. His son is going to come in the spirit of Elijah. His son is going to call many Israelites back to their God! It is amazing. How does a person recover from all this? I would have liked to have seen the look on his face when he exited the sanctuary. He got a triple whammy from God. First, an angel appears to him. That had to be shocking. The text says that he was shaking in fear. Second, the angel tells this old man that he is going to have a son. That had to take his breath away. Third, the angel says this is not just any son. Your son will be the one that will be calling from the wilderness. His son is the one chosen to prepare the hearts of the people for the coming of the Christ. I imagine him leaning on something in the sanctuary as he tries to wrap his mind around what he has just been told.