Nothing to Say
The angel had announced that a baby boy would be born to a geriatric couple. At first sight, Zechariah's question seems very reasonable. He and his wife knew that their biological power of reproduction had gone. But that was not just a function of their old age; they had never produced any children. Yet the angel rebuked Zechariah's unbelief and struck him dumb for nine months.
Compare the old priest's question with that of Mary's, "How will this be ... since I am a virgin?" (see Luke 1:34). The man was rebuked while the girl was blessed. Obviously God knows the motives in every heart, but looking more carefully we can also see Zechariah's problem. He said, "How can I be sure of this?" He may have been a priest, but he was not prepared to accept God's Word as being true. When God's ministers doubt God's Word, then in God's eyes they have nothing to say. So Zechariah's speech was removed. That was both a punishment and a sign. Mary, however, believed the angel's words but was very interested to know how God was going to do it!
God's Word is 'true and for you'! Refusal to believe that leaves you with nothing to say which is of any value to God's Kingdom. Religious leaders who follow Zechariah's example would be better keeping silent, than obscuring God's wisdom by words without knowledge (see Job 38:2): Jesus called them 'blind guides', 'whitewashed tombs' and 'a brood of vipers' (see Matthew chapter 23). Don't be like them! If you have any responsibility to lead God's people - in the home, church, community or workplace - be warned: God's Word will always be done but only those who embrace it can announce it with confidence.
© Dr Paul Adams