As a rule of thumb, you don’t want to make an angel mad. But he did just that.
Honestly, it was so unlike this old priest. The Bible describes him as “righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.”
So what went wrong?
It seems the old man had his heart set on having a child before he died. He prayed earnestly to God year after year. Then suddenly, an angel appears to him in the temple and says, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard.”
The angel says his old, barren wife will give birth to a son and to name him John. “And he will make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
That’s where the trouble began—the holy man didn’t believe the angel.
It gets worse.
This was not your run-of-the-mill heavenly host. “I am Gabriel,” the angel announces.
Can’t you see him arching to his full height, spreading his massive wings as far as they will go? “I stand in the presence of God,” he says.
Oooooh. See what I mean?
You can hear the words echoing off the gold and marble of the temple. This old priest needed to know with whom he was dealing.
And here it comes.
“Behold,” Gabriel announces. “You will be silent, unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words?” Luke 1:5-20
Gabriel leaves, and six months later this angel is given the highest honor in heaven: Gabriel is sent with a message for a virgin. And what were Mary’s final words to him?
Mary says, “May it be done to me according to your word.”
Many think when Mary learns she will give birth by the Holy Spirit that she keeps quiet, only telling Joseph to whom she’s engaged.
Immediately, she hurries into the hill country to an old woman. When Mary steps inside her home, the woman shouts, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Luke 1:39-42
This is Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, who is married to Zechariah and now six months pregnant. Obviously, Elizabeth knows Mary is carrying the Messiah. The old woman’s words burst forth, coming from the Holy Spirit.
“And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Elizabeth asks.
These two women are similarly situated: one too old to give birth yet six months pregnant, the other a virgin, and also with child. The impossible made possible!
Mary will stay with her cousins, Elizabeth and Zechariah, until their child arrives. Six months later Jesus will be born.
Many believe this was a fearful time for Mary.
The Biblical accounts of those months don’t say this. On the contrary, Luke paints a vivid picture of Mary celebrating. He writes of her singing, “My soul exalts the Lord, the Mighty One has done great things for me!” Luke 1:46-55
And why not celebrate? Both women now know the prophecies, centuries old:
“A voice cries, ‘In the wilderness, prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'” Isaiah 40:3
“Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
Mary and Elizabeth now know when these prophecies will be fulfilled. They know when and where these things will happen and to whom. They know!
Yes, it’s an exciting time!
Can’t you see the two cooking and singing, dancing and praising God, chatting joyously?
And then there’s poor old Zechariah, who can’t utter a peep because he did not trust God.
Don’t make that same mistake. Believe! When you earnestly pray, believe!
Listen to the final words Gabriel speaks to Mary and write them on your heart.
“Nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
Copyright (C)2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved. Reprinted from the book “Reaching to God” with permission.
Write to Rev. Mathews at [email protected]