Thursday, December 03, 2009

Christmas Reflections..God’s Faithfulness in the Midst of Unbelief



Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.   And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.  And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.  For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.  And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.  He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”

And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time. – Luke 1:11-20


Zacharias may have thought that it was by lot that he was chosen to go before the Lord and burn incense in the temple.  But instead Zacharias had a divine appointment with God.

Zacharias and Elizabeth had prayed for many years to have a child, yet God was silent.  Perhaps now their prayers were more out of habit, rather than out of belief that God could still give them the desire of their heart.  God may have been silent, but He had indeed heard their prayers. 

Now, at the appointed time, God would answer their prayer and give them a son.  A son who would be great in the sight of the Lord.  One who would be filled with the Holy Spirit from before birth.  Their child would have the privilege of preparing the way for the Lord.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to announced what God would do, Zacharias was filled with fear.  He questioned how it would be accomplished.  Did Zacharias have his eyes on circumstances and human limitations?

God is not glorified, nor pleased, with our unbelief.  Unbelief is what kept the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years.  Zacharias' unbelief resulted in him being struck mute and silent until after the fulfillment of God’s prophesy about John’s birth.  Thankfully, God’s miraculous work was not contingent on Zacharias' belief. 

As Zacharias emerged from the temple, he beckoned to the people so that he could tell them about the angel’s glad tidings.  But Zacharias was speechless…and would remain mute for the next 9 months.  Can you imagine hearing the best news of your life and not being able to share it? 

When Zacharias returned home, God was faithful and answered their prayer.  He brought forth a child from a barren couple well advanced in years.  God can do the impossible with that which is weak, frail and even as good as dead.

As I read about Zacharias and Elizabeth, I’m reminded that I am called to persevere in faith, continue to trust God and know that He is able to accomplish much more than I ask or imagine.  When I pray, am I willing to wait upon the Lord and trust His perfect timing?  Do I view my problems from my vantage point or do I look at them from God’s perspective, knowing that nothing is too hard for God?

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