I stand in the very presence of God. (Luke 1:19 )
Have you ever said something you really wished you could take back? Ever thrown out a phrase that you’d give anything to be able to retract? If so, then I’m sure you can relate to Zechariah.
When an angel appeared to Zechariah to tell him that he would be having a son, he was completely caught off guard. At the time Zechariah was in the sanctuary burning incense to the Lord. He was an old man and had long since given up praying for a son. The last thing he expected to see was an angel of the Lord prophesying his future.
“Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! For God has heard your prayer, and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son! And you are to name him John …. He will be great in the eyes of the Lord …. He will precede the coming of the Lord, preparing the people for his arrival” (Luke 1:13-17 ). You and I know his son as John the Baptist. But Zechariah wasn’t sure what to think of this encounter. He said the first thing that popped into his mind: “I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years” (Luke 1:18 ).
Zechariah said what you and I might have said in the same circumstance. He knew that having babies was a young person’s job, and when you get old, you put away such foolish dreams. He probably couldn’t even remember the last time he’d prayed for it. I think you’ve got the wrong person, he thought to himself. And that’s when he uttered the phrase that could be taken as lacking faith, the phrase that he’d have given anything to be able to take back: “I’m an old man now.” Zechariah wasn’t trying to be disrespectful, just practical. But the reality he saw didn’t set too well with the angel.
“I am Gabriel!” the angel shot back at him. “I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news!” (Luke 1:19 ). And because of Zechariah’s doubt, the angel struck him dumb on the spot. Zechariah was unable to speak again until his son was born. The angel probably did it for his own good. It was the only way to keep him from speaking out even more curses on himself.
Zechariah defined his identity by his circumstances. The angel defined his identity by the One he served. The only question left on the table is for you and me. How are we going to define our identity? Who are we going to be in the eyes of the Lord? How are we going to see ourselves in light of God’s power and glory? How we answer that question makes all the difference for our future.
How do you see yourself in God’s great plan? How does it help you to see your identity as a child of God?