The UnexpectedPosted: December 18, 2012
This is the second of a multi-part series about “the unexpected.” We are taking a look at the Christmas story and the many unexpected things that happen throughout, trying to draw lessons from them. Yesterday we looked at the diligence of Zechariah as he performed his bi-annual priestly duties of travelling to Jerusalem. He was an old man and never chosen to enter The Holy Place to make an incense offering. Until now.
Today is Zechariah’s day! How exciting! He was chosen to enter The Holy Place, stand just feet away from the curtain that separates The Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, and make an offering of incense to God. He entered The Holy Place while the other priests waited outside praying. Then the truly unexpected happened!
An angel of the Lord appeared, standing beside the altar of incense. Zechariah was excited to simply offer the incense, I am sure he never expected to see an angel as he performed his priestly duties. After the obligatory angel greeting–“do not fear”–the heavenly visitor informs Zechariah: “your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.”
Could Zechariah’s day get any better? First, the lot was cast for him to offer the incense. Next, an angel appeared to him. And now he will have a son! Wow!
Zechariah has been praying. Presumably, Zechariah’s prayer has been for a child, as that is the prayer that God is answering according to the angel. Zechariah must have believed that God would be able to answer this prayer in some way, else he likely would have stopped praying this prayer. No doubt that Zechariah was familiar with the story of Abraham and Sarah, that God gave them Isaac in their old age. But that God could do the same for him and Elizabeth, that is unexpected.
“How can I be sure of this?” We are old, beyond our child-bearing years, how do I know you’re not pulling my leg, Gabriel?
Gabriel’s response is simply this: “You can be sure, Zechariah, because the Lord sent me. And because of your disbelief, you will be silent until the birth of your son.
Have you ever gotten into a rut of prayer, simply praying for something out of obligation? Perhaps you have been praying for an unsaved family member and instead of it becoming a true petition to God, that prayer has become a routine. You do it out of habit and forget that God can truly answer that prayer. What ever your prayer is today, God is still listening, just as He still heard the prayer of Zechariah and Elizabeth. I encourage you to expect the unexpected. Expect that God will meet you where you are. He is still able to answer that prayer and He will answer that prayer! Be ready! Expect the unexpected!