An Old, New Thing

“But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.’” Luke 2:13-4 (NASB)

God is unchangeable, and yet, he surprises us all the time. We think he works one way; he proves us wrong. We believe him to be more of one quality than another—as an example, we think him to be more loving or more vengeful than he is—and he reveals he encompasses both qualities equally.

Zacharias joins us in our misconceptions, suspicions, and uncertainty. He, a priest in the service of God, knew God’s actions intimately. He would have heard the stories, studied them, and spoken God’s word to the people. He, of all people, should have remembered how God worked in Abraham and Sarah’s lives. 

Zacharias, however, questions the angel’s announcement. “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years” (Luke 1:18). He is surprised by God’s action, despite the blessing of a child coming to Abraham and Sarah years and years before. Zacharias questions the promise, and yet—God fulfills the promise in spite of him. 

That fact should comfort and assure us. God answers our prayers despite our misunderstandings, doubts, and fears. He accomplishes his purposes because he is God, and we, fortunately, are not.

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