Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Luke 1:18, “And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this?  For I am an old man, and my wife in advanced years.”
Luke 1:34, And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

When God ended His centuries old silence to His people He did so in dramatic fashion.  He sent the angel Gabriel—who had previously spoke to the prophet Daniel of God’s plan for the ages (Daniel chapter nine)—to speak of the miraculous things that would soon come to pass.  Zacharias and Mary had both found favor with God (Luke 1:6 and 1:28), but were otherwise quite different.  Zacharias was an old and childless priest.  Mary was a young and engaged virgin.

Gabriel spoke to both--to Zacharias in the temple, to Mary in Nazareth--of the miraculous intervention of God on their behalf.  Elizabeth, Zachariah’s elderly wife, was to bear a son.  Mary, the virgin, was to bear a child too.  Both responded to the angel’s announcement with a question.  “Zacharias said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this?  For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years’” (Luke 1:18).  “And Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’” (Luke 1:34).

Zacharias question was met with dramatic consequences.  Mary’s was not.  Zacharias was rendered speechless for the duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy: “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” (Luke 1:20).  Coming out of the temple “he was unable to speak to them…and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute” (Luke 1:22).  His tongue was silenced for months until the day of his son’s birth.  On that day a discussion arose regarding what was to be the newborn’s name.  Zacharias “asked for a tablet, and wrote as follows, ‘His name is John.’” (Luke 1:63).  “And as once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God” (Luke 1:64).  Later, filled with the Spirit, Zacharias blessed God in a prophetic song of praise (Luke 1:69-79).

But Mary’s question to Gabriel did not lead to any similar repercussions.  How are we to account for the difference?  Zacharias’ question reflected unbelief in God’s word to him, Mary’s did not.  Mary was confident as to God’s ability to do that which Gabriel had declared.  She did not question THAT God could do what He promised, she wondered HOW.  She believed that which God has spoken, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).  Zacharias question reflected an element of unbelief: “How shall I know this” (Luke 1:18)?  The announcement of the God-sent angel was not enough, he wanted further evidence.  The evidence would come, God would fulfill His plan, but his unbelief worked to bind his tongue until the promise was fulfilled.

“For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).  God is able fill a barren womb or bear a child in a virgin’s.  Gabriel’s assertions were demonstrably fulfilled in both miraculous births.  It is ever and always a good thing to take God at His Word.  It is as we do that we fully experience His promised blessings to which we then can respond accordingly with thanksgiving and praise.  Amongst the consequences of unbelief is an incapacitated tongue.  Let us meet today’s’ challenges with this kind of faith in our great God and His sure Word.

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