This morning I read Luke 1 and was struck with how similar I am to Zacharias. Let me give a rundown of this story:
A priest goes into the Holy of Holies.
An angel comes.
The angel tells the priest he and his wife are going to have a kid.
The priest doesn’t believe him.
The priest is silenced for nine months while he watches the angel’s words come true right before his eyes.
Think about that (very simplified) version of the story. Maybe I should elaborate.
Picture an old man going into a place so very holy that if he had one unconfessed sin, he would die on the spot. They tied a rope around the priest’s ankles before he went in, just in case God decided to strike him dead, because no one was holy enough to go into this room and get the dead body out.
So anyway, the old priest goes in there, and a giant angel shows up. An angel who is so fearful that his first words are “Don’t be afraid.” An angel who has probably just come from the presence of God Almighty Himself. (And he’s probably huge.)
So, when the giant angel delivers an important message to Zacharias in this holy place, what does Zacharias do?
He doesn’t believe him.
His words as recorded in the NASB: “How will I know this for certain?” (verse 18)
You might say he got what he deserved for backtalking an angel (and essentially God). He couldn’t speak for nine months. (Actually more like ten.)
This may seem like a radical story, but I find myself so much like Zacharias. How often have I opened up a certain holy book, and read words spoken by a certain awesome, all-powerful God, and responded with “How will I know this for certain?”
He promises that He will never leave me, but I doubt that. He promises that He will work all things together for my good, but I’m not so sure. He promises that He has completely paid the price for my sin, but I like to try to work some of it off myself. He promises that He loves me, but my response is “How will I know this for certain?”
What I love about this story is that it doesn’t just end with a mute guy and a childless lady. No, even though Zacharias didn’t believe God’s promise, God just did it anyway. Elizabeth got pregnant. The baby boy was born. Just like God said.
And after all that, when it came time to name the baby, who had the most faith? Who was the most eager to do what God had said? Zacharias, writing those words, “His name is John,” just like God said. And at that moment, his tongue was loosed, and what did he do with it? He praised God.
When I distrust that God will do what He says–He does it anyway. I doubt whether or not He will always be with me, but He stays anyway. I don’t trust that His plan is always good, but He does His good plan anyway. His Word stands, whether we believe it or not. He does what He promises.
And sometimes He has a way of sidelining me (like when Zacharias couldn’t speak) so I have an opportunity to stand by and see Him fight on my behalf. And then, when He shows me everything He’s done for me, how can I respond but in praise?