We were looking forward to high school! We were so done with Prince Charles Public School. We couldn’t wait to move on and move up. That was until the day came. The excitement was pushed aside by fear and anxiety. What we had been anticipating we weren’t ready for!
The priest Zechariah had a similar experience. He had been longing for the coming of the Messiah, even praying for it. But when the angel appeared, announcing that he and his wife would have a son, who would be the forerunner to the Messiah, he wasn’t ready to believe. Zechariah’s trust in God had been displaced by what was doable and realistic. Becoming parents in old age didn’t fit Zechariah’s understanding so he wasn’t ready to receive the good news.
I don’t want to be too hard on Zechariah. I am ready to trust God, if things make sense to me, but if they don’t, well I am slow on the uptake. What I need to remember is that God is trustworthy. Scripture makes it clear that He is actively engaged with caring for his people, he is a God who blesses and fills and he is a God who keeps his good promises. That is why we can trust Him, before we understand His ways.
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute.23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”