TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
Loving Lord, I’m so grateful that each day you treat me with your mercy, patience, and unfailing love.1
Read 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 favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Come, thou long-expected Jesus, / born to set thy people free’.1
Good news is not always immediately believable, as Abraham and Sarah had found.2 So now does Zechariah. Even for this godly priest, the appearance of an angel and the news that he will have a son is too much. Not many angels are named in the Bible. Gabriel is one and Zechariah would have been familiar with the book of Daniel, where Gabriel uses the same phrase as he uses here, the ‘appointed time’, in an interpretation of a vision concerning the end and God’s final victory.3 The significance would not have been lost on Zechariah. As Luke relates these incidents, he wants us to understand the joined-up nature of God’s plans. God’s faithfulness is seen at the personal level – they will have a child – and at the overarching level – the Savior of the world is coming.
The message from Gabriel does not seem to have convinced Zechariah. He may have to go through a difficult period of silence – probably a confirmatory sign rather than a punishment – but he will still be the father of the forerunner; doubts and questions are not the end of the story. We too may have doubts and questions, but that does not mean that God will not work in us and through us.
Elizabeth, and no doubt Zechariah with her, rejoices in all that God has done for her – but the rejoicing has more to it than that. In Elizabeth’s words there are echoes of other childless women whose sons were key in God’s plan: Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah. Zechariah and Elizabeth are already aware that their son will have massive significance for the future of Israel. Dare we believe that God is still at work, fulfilling his purposes in unexpected ways and through unlikely people?
Recall points where God has shown his faithfulness to you. Give him thanks and praise and rejoice in his faithfulness in redeeming the world. Let that give you confidence.
Faithful One, you are just in all your ways, and faithful to your promises. Help me to trust you in the difficult times when things don’t seem to be working out for me.
1 Charles Wesley, 1707–88 2 Gen 16:1–3; 18:9–15 3 Dan 8:19
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