December 7 - Zechariah's Doubt

Sunday, December 7, 2008

December 7 - Zechariah's Doubt - Luke 1:18-25

When I was a child, I got Zechariah and Abraham mixed up. I knew that one of them became unable to speak when he doubted that God could cause their older wife to get pregnant. It took a few years of learning to anchor it in my mind that it was Zechariah. But, the thing that finally helped me was in thinking about Zechariah in the Holy of Holies.

When I read Luke 1:18, I am shocked at Zechariah's question posed to the angel. It seems incredibly surprising to me that he could see an angel and not be willing to accept everything that angel says to him! But he asked the angel for assurances. Wow!

I can definitely imagine expressing shock that my family would be chosen for that honor and I can imagine being dumbfounded, but I can not imagine questioning the motivation and asking the question, "How can I be sure of this?"

God had moved beyond the physical limitations of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 18:9-15) and surely God the Creator could move beyond that age and physical limitations of Zechariah and Elizabeth.

However, before I question Zechariah too much, I have to look at my own lack of faith in God's commandments. I spent too many years ignoring God's hand in my life, not believing that it was really Him telling me to move on. I didn't know how to listen to Him! What are you missing because you don't believe that God is really speaking to you?

Gabriel identified himself to Zechariah. My heart is warmed as I read the words in Luke 1:19 "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God ..." I stand in the presence of God. Just think about that for a few minutes. I stand in the presence of God. Wow. I suppose I am a little envious, I can hardly wait to stand in the presence of God. And since the day that Gabriel was created, He was able to be there, in the presence of God. I'm overwhelmed.

I suspect that Gabriel was a little surprised at being questioned by Zechariah. As the angelic spokesman for God, I can't imagine that doubt was something he encountered very often. His power is shown when he is able to strike Zechariah dumb. Punishment for disbelief, but the promise of a child is still in place.

Luke 1:21 tells us that Zechariah had been in the Holy of Holies for a bit longer than normal. According to Numbers 6:22-27, he should have given the blessing upon leaving the Temple, but because he was mute, he was unable to do even that. He was in Jerusalem to perform his duty at the temple and had to wait to go home. We see in Luke 1:39 that he lived in the hill country of Judah. As soon as he was able, he went home to his wife and soon after, she became pregnant.

Elizabeth was in seclusion, because as an older woman who had not had children, she was in disgrace (Luke 1:25). Until her pregnancy was certain and it was obvious that she was going to have a child, she did not leave her home.

The child who was to prepare the way for the Messiah was conceived, the plan is now in motion.