Privates shouldn’t question a general’s command.
Errand boys shouldn’t challenge a CEO’s decision.
And evidently, humans shouldn’t doubt an angel’s words.
After appearing to Zechariah in the temple, the angel Gabriel delivered a lengthy message to the elderly priest. The detailed description of what was about to happen even included the name heaven picked out for the coming baby — John. A plain name for an extraordinary infant. According to the angel, the baby would be
“great in the sight of the Lord“,
“filled with the Holy Spirit“,
and “in the spirit and power of Elijah“.
This child would do great things.
“He will go before the Lord“,
“turn the hearts of the fathers to their children“,
and “make ready a people prepared for the Lord“.
Since Malachi prophesied the final words of the Old Testament, there had been silence from God for 400 years. No “thus sayeth the Lord“, no angel visitations, no visions. Gabe’s big moment had finally arrived and it was met by questioning unbelief. In Zech’s mind, this idea (and baby) was inconceivable.
“How will I know this is going to happen?” CEV
“By what shall I know and be sure of this?” AMP
“How can I know that what you say is true?” Exp
“How shall I know if this is so?” GN
“Do you expect me to believe this?” Message
Unfortunately, Zechariah didn’t stop there, but felt he needed to explain to the heavenly being the facts of the situation. “I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” What did he expect the angel to say? “Oh, I didn’t know all that. Well then, never mind”? Actually, Gabriel got a little irritated with the human being and put him on mute for the next nine months. Very effective. “Zechariah paid a price for his unbelief. His unbelief did not make God take his promise back; it just kept Zechariah from enjoying it. When we do not believe God’s promise for our lives, we do not necessarily destroy the promise; but we do destroy our ability to enjoy the promise. What made this such a severe punishment was that Zechariah had such great news to tell.” David Guzik
Mary also got a visit from Gabriel with equally startling news. Mary also asked a “how” question — “How will this be?” But she received a straight-forward answer and no reprimand because her question was not laced with doubt. “Mary’s question is logical. She asks basically the same question Zechariah asked but his question was asked in skeptical unbelief, her question was asked in wonder-filled faith.” David Guzik
Lord, may my questions be free from skeptical unbelief
and filled with awe-inspired faith.
And go ahead and shut me up when You need to.