Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard ... Luke i, 13.
God’s timetable does not necessarily agree with our schedule, expectations, and presuppositions. God is in heaven and He does what pleases Him. He answers our prayers. But He responds to our requests in his own time and in his own special ways!
The old man Zechariah was shocked to see an angel in the temple of God where he ministered. He was struck with disbelief when the angel told him that God was pleased to answer his prayers for a son. Zechariah must have wondered: “But that was a long while ago. I don’t even remember my prayers for a son. Did it take God all these decades to answer my prayers? And why now? I am an old man. My wife too is long past the age of childbearing. Now, let me talk sense. If you indeed are an angel from God, give me a sign before I buy your suggestion.” Before we criticize Zechariah, let’s consider these scenarios.
If God should send an angel to an aged childless couple among us to say: “Do not be afraid. Your prayers for a child has been answered,” how do you think they will respond? I think they’ll say something like this: “Sorry. We are not interested in having a baby in this old age. We’ve grown accustomed to being childless. We’re old and weak. We don’t think it’s wise to have a baby now. God will have to respect our personal freedom of choice in this matter.”
Here’s another scenario. What if God should send an angel to an elderly Christian man and tell him: “Do not be afraid. Your wife will bear you a son and you shall name him John.“? I can imagine the man’s response. “What? You want us to have another child? Are you crazy? We completed our family 40 years ago. If I were to tell this to my wife, all hell will break loose. I am sorry. This is an entirely private matter. I am not willing to entertain this option.”
God’s message to Zechariah was both a promise and a command! Zechariah doubted God’s promise and demanded a sign. God indeed gave him a sign! But we should appreciate Zechariah’s willingness to obey God. He went home to his wife. Without uttering a word, he convinced her to have a baby. The elderly couple acted on God’s word. The result? A man whom Jesus Christ would call ‘the greatest among those born of women‘ was brought forth into the world.
Have you given God total control over your life? Are you prepared to obey God even if He asks you to attempt something ‘ridiculous?’ Do you dictate terms to God or are you submissive to his will?
Be careful of what you ask God. He might send it your way when you least expect it!