Our story is coming to a close, at least with Zechariah. He was a common priest, who lived in a common place and served a common function, but was visited in a most uncommon way. God broke His silence to speak to Zechariah, announcing that the Lord was coming.
Zechariah, surprised by the angel Gabriel, was taken aback by what he heard. God had heard his prayer for a son and was going to grant him his desire. Even more so, God was going to give him a son far greater than any other son of man. He was going to be the herald of the only Son of God.
The news was too good to be true—in Zechariah’s mind. He couldn’t see past the obvious: he was old in age and his wife was barren. So he disbelieved, “How shall I know this?” (Lk. 1:18). In other words, “Prove it to me!” Zechariah rejected God’s Word.
To add to the terror, the angel rose up in strength, no doubt in a thundering voice, and confronted Zechariah, saying, “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” (Lk. 1:19).
Disbelief Brings Disapproval
The angel gave Zechariah what he wanted—proof. “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” (Lk. 1:20). This was not exactly the kind of proof Zechariah wanted, I’m sure.
The consequences could have been worse. He didn’t believe God’s Word. Is there a worse sin than this? No. Gabriel, no doubt in the Lord’s permission, showed mercy to Zechariah. After all, he was a righteous man living blamelessly before God (Lk. 1:6). It was an act of correction by a merciful judge.
Disbelief Brings Disappointment
The people outside were still praying. Priests were usually in and out of the Holy Place. So the delay caused the people to wonder, maybe even pray more diligently (Lk. 1:21). When priests exited the Holy Place, they typically prayed a blessing before the people, but not Zechariah. He was mute. Rather, he “kept making signs to them” (Lk. 1:22).
They realized something happened. But poor Zechariah could not tell them. It was a climactic moment in history, more so in his story, and it ended with disappointment. Luke records it as such: “And when his time of service ended, he went to his home” (Lk. 1:23). What a sad ending.
How do you typically respond to God’s Word? Remember, Hebrews 1:2 tells us God speaks to us today through His living Word, and it is no less significant than if it came from an angel directly to you. Whenever and however God speaks, it is always Scripture.
With the coming of Christmas, consider your response when God speaks—is it belief or disbelief? Let Zechariah’s story encourage your response to God’s Word.
Download or purchase God Breaks His Silence, a study guide for Christmas.