"How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." |
For centuries Israel understood through Toratic Scriptures that a Redeemer would someday come and rule supreme on the earth, governing the world by God’s Word. This coming Savior was the only hope of final lasting independence for the tiny Jewish nation. O how many have come that were thought to be the One; so many that it procured cynicism on the part of the people of Israel.
As he was serving his course at the Temple (Luke 1:5), Zechariah had an encounter with an angel. Angels did not necessarily appear as a flying entity or as an ethereal light. In the case of Abraham and Lot they appeared as people who could be hosted for a meal. No one but the serving priest was supposed to be in the Holy, the first room of the Tabernacle, so it was quite a surprise to Zechariah not only to have company there, but also to hear an oracle telling him that both he and his wife would conceive in their old age. He also received instructions concerning the coming child. Luke’s narrative tells us that Zechariah doubts the angel who therefore punishes him with muteness.
Throughout the whole Biblical narratives, God has always made a point to draw attention to certain individuals by making their birth the result of barrenness. Such was the case for many patriarchs, judges and prophets. First temple Judaism even considered that the Messiah would come from a young maiden who had not yet been with a man. Because of Torah though, Jews were trained to try the spirits demanding a sign to confirm prophecy even from angels. To ask for a sign was not a bad thing, it was the norm in testing prophecy (Deuteronomy 13), and I think we may do well to do a bit more of that today!. God Himself provided signs to help prove His points to people. The fact that Zechariah was not punished for asking for a sign, but for incredulity, and Gabriel being the angel of judgment didn’t seem to appreciate that. This attitude of incredulity was even pointed out by Yeshua later (Matthew 12:29). Notice the Yeshua did give the people a sign, the sign, which was the story of Jonah, a foreshadow of Yeshua’s death and resurrection.
Even today, as His return seems to be lingering, it is easy for us to become incredulous. Yeshua gave us signs where with to identify His return (Matthew 24), the biggest one of course being the restoration of the State of Israel. As we see them fulfilled today, let us not be incredulous, but we should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." … But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (1 Peter 3:2-9); and we are thankful for His patience in waiting for us!
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