“Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.’” [Luke 1:11-13]
An angel appears, a terrified priest is commanded not to be, a heartfelt prayer is miraculously answered, and the forerunner to the Messiah is announced. Quite a busy three verses then! But it’s the word “startled” that draws my eye. Zechariah was carrying out his role as priest in the holiest place – yet is startled when God makes an appearance in the person of an angel. Why was Zechariah there, but to stand before God? It would be comic if it wasn’t a sobering picture for you and I. We try and spend time with God, we pray, we imagine we long for God. But do we actually expect Him to reveal Himself to us? To be fair, pre-Pentecost, the Holy Spirit had not been poured out into individual believers lives, so we might forgive Zechariah. But those of us living now, in the age of the Spirit, should absolutely expect God to speak to us. And, rather than gawp in astonishment and fear when He does so, we should respond with joyful obedience. A daily walk with Jesus will be neither predictable nor comfortable.
Father God, please open my eyes to see You, my ears to hear You, my heart to accept You, and my will to respond in obedience to You. Today. Amen.