Previous to today’s passage, we had learned that Zechariah was a priest and it was his time to go and serve in the temple. He was married to Elizabeth, who was barren, and they were both old as in beyond the years of having children. The angel Gabriel had appeared to Zechariah while in the temple and told him that Elizabeth would have a child and their son would be called John. God has a marvelous plan for John’s life as he was to announce the arrival of the Son of God, Messiah, and prepare the people’s hearts through repentance. As today’s passage opens, Gabriel allows Zechariah to speak to him. Luke 1:18-22
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.
Who was this angel, Gabriel? The Bible refers to Gabriel by name 4 times. Twice in Daniel when he was delivering prophecy and helping Daniel to understand the things revealed to him. Twice in the New Testament book of Luke, here to Zechariah and then to Mary. Angels were used by God to deliver important messages to His people. The angel Gabriel would have been known to Zechariah because he was a priest who knew and studied the Old Testament. He would have known that angels were God’s holy messengers and being sent from God their messages would be true. We know from other Bible passages the angels were involved in heavenly warfare. In this case, Gabriel shows the ability to punish or deliver consequences for Zechariah’s unbelief. Unbelief always brings consequences. Why then did Zechariah show such unbelief? Perhaps like many of us, he was stuck in the here and now. He knew he was old. He knew Elizabeth was old and could not have children. The physical obstacles were beyond his ability to make them happen in his mind. Having a child was just incomprehensible. He did not remember the case of Abraham and Sarah. Instead of choosing faith and belief in God’s Sovereignty and Omnipotent power he settled for rationality, for what was believable in earthly terms. Isn’t that what we do when we refuse to accept miracles by faith, refuse to consider the possibility that God can overcome earthly obstacles?
We need to remember whenever there is unbelief, there is a price to pay. Zechariah’s price was silence for 9 months until John was born. Those who refuse to believe in Jesus and his saving power pay with eternal separation from God. Scripture tells us that God rewards faith with eternal life, indwelling of His Holy Spirit, a life of connection and peace with Him. However, unbelief results in eternal death from sin. Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? If not, turn to Him today and confess your sins and accept His free gift of eternal life. John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Which will you choose today, belief or unbelief?