I got a phone call the other day telling me I had won a free vacation! Before I even had a chance to ask, the person on the other end told me how it came to be that I was about to receive this gift. Simply by staying at one of their properties in the past, my name was drawn, over every other name, to receive this great gift.
Are you laughing at me yet? I know, you get these calls every few months too, right? It’s just a marketing ploy to try and get me to book a weekend at a resort and then subject myself to a sales pitch where someone tries to sell me a time share or membership in a vacation plan. Instead of being one of the few who had been chosen, the truth is, I was one of thousands who received a similar call. That phone call clearly falls into the category of “too good to be true.”
That’s likely how Zechariah felt when he “got the call” from Gabriel informing him that he and his wife, Elizabeth, would have a son. After all, they had been trying to have children all their married life with no success. Now they were getting beyond child bearing years and someone just drops in while he’s praying, and informs him that it is in fact going to happen. Yeah, right.
This was the day that Zechariah was on duty at the Temple. He was one of the priests who helped take care of the Temple, lead worship services, and pray on behalf of the people in their wait for the promised Messiah. Every day, about 1,000 priests would draw straws to see who would take the lead role for the day, and on this day, Zechariah was the man.
He knew his responsibilities and, according to Luke, Zechariah carried them out in such a way that he was described as being “righteous in God’s eyes.” This is an important distinction, because all the priests considered themselves righteous, but evidently not all were in God’s eyes.
Part of his responsibility was to pray for the coming of the Messiah, but little did he know that on this day, not only would that prayer finally be answered, but he would receive a bonus that he no longer thought was a possibility – he and his wife were finally going to become parents.
However, this bonus was something that seemed too good to be true. When Zechariah questioned the validity of this announcement, Gabriel disciplined him for a lack of trust. He didn’t rescind the promise, but he afflicted Zechariah with a temporary inconvenience – he couldn’t talk. This was a pretty significant occupational hazard, because when he emerged from the Temple that day, the people were expecting to hear from him what God had said, and he couldn’t deliver. There was no PowerPoint or Keynote presentation that he could whip up to communicate what his vocal chords couldn’t express. He was stuck.
I am sure that some who read this are fairly diligent and faithful to pray everyday to God about important needs in your life as well as in the lives of people around you, praying for our nation and world, and even now for those in Texas who are trying to recover from Hurricane Harvey and those in Florida who are bracing for Irma. The question is, are you prepared for God to answer your prayer? When he does, what are you going to do with the answer?
Zechariah may have goofed up his initial response to such a significant answer to prayer. But as we discover in Luke 1:23-24, he went home and acted in faith that it would actually happen. I would get more specific, but this blog is rated PG.
As a result of that obedience, he and Elizabeth conceived a baby boy, and when he was born they named him John. Their son prepared the way for his cousin, Jesus, to teach and model for all of us, how to live in a way that honors God with our lives.
So today, take time to pray. Ask God for His heart’s desire to be revealed to you. And then follow where that leads. And the funny thing that will happen – you will find His desire to be your desire, even if it seems to good to be true!