Zechariah muted

This devotional is written by Emma Jones.

Luke 1:18-25

18 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." 19 The angel said to him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time." 21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. 23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 "The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people."


A visitation from an angel isn't an everyday event, especially one that's got a message straight from the mouth of God.

However, Zechariah is like many of us I suspect, in doubting even even a shiny angel who has dropped from heaven, standing right in front of him, telling him he's going to have a son.

Zechariah immediately points out the earthly flaw. He says how? How is this possible?

Zechariah looks at the human barriers to what God wants to do. In this particular case, the obstacle is that Zechariah and his wife are getting on. Zechariah and Elizabeth must have longed for a child for years. She calls it a 'disgrace' because in those days it was that, for a couple to have no children. And now God says He's going to do it - when all natural hope is gone? Zechariah's response isn't necessarily just down to failing to see beyond the natural - a lot of dashed hope and disappointment informs his question.

I always imagined Gabriel's reply as an angelic hissy fit - flouncing off having not been believed. But in fact, Zechariah's short-lived enforced silence is a reminder that there are always consequences for failing to believe God when He says He wants to do something, and we don't act on it.

But what's wonderful is that God keeps His end of the promise despite Zechariah's reaction. The son, John, is conceived and delivered. God says it, and God does it. He doesn't look for someone else, He doesn't un-choose Zechariah and Elizabeth. He fulfils what He says He's going to do.

Unpromising circumstances are nothing for a supernatural God.

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