On the eighth day they came to circumcise - See an account of this institution in the note on Genesis 17:10-14; (note). Had circumcision been essential to an infant's salvation, God would not have ordered it to be delayed to the eighth day, because, in all countries, multitudes die before they arrive at that age. Baptism, which is generally allowed to have been substituted for circumcision, is no more necessary to the salvation of an infant than circumcision was. Both are signs of the covenant - circumcision, of the putting away the impurity of the flesh; and baptism, of the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, producing the answer of a good conscience towards God. Confer 1 Peter 3:21, with Titus 3:5. This should never be neglected: it is a sign and token of the spiritual grace.
They called him Zacharias - Among the Jews, the child was named when it was circumcised, and ordinarily the name of the father was given to the first-born son.
The words of the angel, “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God,” show that he holds a position of high honor in the heavenly courts. When he came with a message to Daniel, he said, “There is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael [Christ] your Prince.” Daniel 10:21. Of Gabriel the Saviour speaks in the Revelation, saying that “He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John.” Revelation 1:1. And to John the angel declared, “I am a fellow servant with thee and with thy brethren the prophets.” Revelation 22:9, R. V. Wonderful thought—that the angel who stands next in honor to the Son of God is the one chosen to open the purposes of God to sinful men. DA 99.1
Zacharias had expressed doubt of the angel's words. He was not to speak again until they were fulfilled. “Behold,” said the angel, “thou shalt be dumb, ... until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.” It was the duty of the priest in this service to pray for the pardon of public and national sins, and for the coming of the Messiah; but when Zacharias attempted to do this, he could not utter a word. DA 99.2
Coming forth to bless the people, “he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.” They had waited long, and had begun to fear, lest he had been cut down by the judgment of God. But as he came forth from the holy place, his face was shining with the glory of God, “and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple.” Zacharias communicated to them what he had seen and heard; and “as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.” DA 99.3Read in context »