And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time. (Luke 1:20)
Let’s start with the obvious. In this narrative, we see some very tangible and unusual consequences for not believing God’s words.
Most consequences for disobedience (ignoring God) are simple cause and effect, easily predictable. Choose to lust and you’ll ruin your attitude towards the opposite sex. Choose to gossip and you’ll never really connect with others and eventually be known as untrustworthy. Choose to not believe God and you’ll live by your own power and be distanced from God.
Back to this narrative. Reading it makes me wonder if I’ve blatantly ignored God’s voice and have suffered unusual consequences. I remember learning this principle for interpretation in school: “narrative isn’t normative.” An event in history isn’t an eternal principle that applies to every context.
After all, Jesus once fell asleep on a cushion on a boat (Mark 4:38), does that mean we must always do the same when we are on a boat? Maybe we’re supposed to only do this when we are on a boat while in a storm…
Certainly we can learn from this event: I don’t want the same mistake he did!
The words he didn’t believe were words about the future, a future that was hard to accept… but if it was easy to believe, God wouldn’t have sent an angel.
For Zachariah, the angel left no question about the following: (a) what would happen (silence), (b) why it happened (unbelief), and (c) how long it would last (until the original words came true).
Finally, the words he didn’t believe came to him in a spectacular way. Holy Smokes (literally), an angel appeared to him while he in the Holy of Holies!
After looking a little deeper at this event, I don’t think anything like this has happened to me…although I know I’ve definitely ignored God too many times in the past! To be sure, when God speaks, I want to respond with, “SPEAK LORD, YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING.”
BIBLE STUDY DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
When you clearly hear from God, and it’s not what you are expecting, what is your first response? When was the last time you were told what you didn’t want to hear?
How do you normally hear God speak? How do you know what he wants?
How many of your daily decisions–both small and large–are influenced by what God wants?