As we gear up for Christmas, let’s cast our minds back to where it all began. Over a year before the scene in the stable, God in His heavenly throne room summoned an angel and gave him a special assignment.
And the angel went. He appeared to Zechariah at the appropriate hour and delivered his God-given message.
But then what happened? Zechariah doubted the holy message. He questions the possibility and probability of a miracle. And the angel lost his patience. He declared to Zechariah,
“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”
Picture the scene. In the Holy Place, where Zechariah was not expecting to see or meet anyone, there appears an angel. That alone would be frightening. Gabriel obviously had an intimidating appearance, for the first thing he tells Zechariah is “Do not be afraid.” But then Zechariah questioned the God-given message, and Gabriel boldly declares, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God.” In other words, “Who are you to question my words?!”
I wonder if angels ever get frustrated by us mere mortals. Gabriel obviously got exasperated with Zechariah. One moment the guy fears and trembles before him and then the next he questions the divine message. How frustrating! I imagine that Gabriel declared his identity and purpose rather forcefully and with a hint of just anger. But whether Gabriel stated his case with additional authority and outrage or not, I’m sure Zechariah was quaking in his shoes by the time Gabriel was done speaking. For an angel, frightening enough when coming in peace, would be terrifying when riled.
And Gabriel was riled. He reveals his position in heaven, his divine appointment, and his awesome power in his declaration to Zechariah.
I wonder if God told Gabriel to make Zechariah mute should he not believe the message? Or was it all Gabriel’s idea? The judgment of silence seems to come from nowhere. Without warning or preamble, Gabriel declared that since Zechariah didn’t believe, he would remain mute until the child of promise was born. We know the end of the story and that after John’s birth Zechariah regains his speech, but Zechariah didn’t know that. As far as he knew, he could remain mute indefinitely for he did not believe the angel’s message.
Next week we’ll look at the reasons why Zechariah received such a harsh punishment, but in the meantime, let’s ponder this thought.
Gabriel was awesome and terrifying in his splendor, majesty, and power. However, he was just the messenger. And even though he sentenced Zechariah to silence, his power was given to him by One much more powerful. And Gabriel knew that. Notice how he declares his authority. “I am Gabriel; I stand in the presence of God; I have been sent by God.” So even though Gabriel was a powerful, fearsome angel by his own right, he found his identity and purpose in God. How much more ought we to base our identity in our Creator, Savior, and good Father. For our position in Christ is much more powerful than the one Gabriel claims.
So will your declaration be like that of Gabriel, powerful and based off of your position and authority in Christ? I want mine to be.
“I am Kristin, a daughter of the Almighty, Most High God, an ambassador of Jesus Christ.”
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