We should always be aware of our heart attitude when God speaks to us.
According to the Gospel of Luke Chapter 1:5-38
The angel of The Lord, Gabriel, sent by God appeared twice and spoke to two would-be parents.
In the first appearance, Gabriel visits Zachariah, a very important Priest. In fact, was chosen to be the High Priest for the Jewish people. Zachariah is married to a righteous woman named Elizabeth, who is descended from the daughters of Aaron, the Israelite tribe who were to be trained as priests for the temple. This extraordinary couple had known many years of faith and law and had prayed for a son, because Elizabeth could not conceive. The Angel, Gabriel, visits Zachariah and tells him that his miraculous prayers have been answered: Elizabeth will conceive a son and his name will be John. However, Zachariah’s heart then doubted God’s Word. He says “How is it possible? I am an old man and my wife is beyond her years.” (v.18)
The consequence for Zachariah’s unbelief:
Zachariah was silenced and unable to speak until the day all of these miraculous things take place. (v.20)
Even though he should have been held up as a lasting example of God’s partnering with those who follow His laws because of his training and heritage of Biblical knowledge and familiarity with the Lord, his response was the cause of his family’s lineage dying with his only son. Zachariah’s first reaction to a messenger directly from God was disbelief and scorn.
Six months later, the angel of the Lord appears to a young virgin girl named Mary. The same messenger, Gabriel, tells Mary she is favored by God and will conceive and give birth to the son of the Most High and his name will be Jesus. Mary’s first reaction was telling and her heart didn’t doubt God’s word. She merely asked a question for explanation of the mechanics of how it would work, since she had never been with a man. Gabriel tells her the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her. Mary’s response is complete submission and says” I am the Lord’s slave. May it be done according to your Word. “ (v. 38)
It is an interesting paradox. Here are two examples of righteous, godly people. The one who had the most training in God’s word, yet doubted, was Zachariah, a longtime righteous God-fearing Priest, married, and praying for a son. He was settled and had waited long enough to begin to question God’s timing. He was the very one who knew the Word and the Law inside and out. He would have been familiar with the story of God providing this exact thing for His chosen friend, Abraham. Zachariah would not only have known the story, but would have by this time taught it to his flock at the temple many, many times.
The one who should have doubted God‘s Word but believed was Mary, a virgin peasant girl, who had no religious position or training, was already engaged, and had everything to lose. She took into account the potential loss of her fiancée and social standing. She would have been facing potential death or at the very least a future with no prospects, no protection and no means to support herself. Here is a person who would only have known about God from a second-hand report. At that time, only males were taught the Torah, which was the first stories of the Bible and God’s laws. It was taught at the temple, but she had to remain in the Women’s Courtyard. She would have only known about God by what she was told. Her sense of expectancy that God could be personally speaking to her was incredible. There must have been a yearning in her heart towards more of God and for an encounter with Him. Obedience and trust are a powerful combination when placed before the Lord.
Consequence of Mary’s Belief:
Mary had the unique privilege of being the mother to the God’s son. In that time period, it was every Israeli woman’s dream to be the mother of the Messiah. She was present at his birth and at His death. She saw him arrive as a helpless baby and watch him die as her Savior. No other woman in history was afforded this physical closeness to the Messiah.
Mary’s obedience cemented her legacy. Today her name, faithful trust and obedience are still being applauded in the modern-day church. Her right reactions to God’s voice have stood the test of time. She is spoken about more than any woman in the gospels or religious people of her time.
Flip through both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and you will see many contrasting responses to God’s plan and instructions for our lives. Our response to God‘s demands should not be laughter or doubt in God’s ability to carry out His plan, but instead obedience with a willing submissive heart. We must always be on guard against the sin of unbelief.
So the question is: Has there ever been a time you doubted God‘s word like Zachariah or do you have a right, submissive heart like Mary?
When God speaks to our heart and demands something from us, our heart attitude should be like Mary’s “Yes, Lord!” Otherwise, like Zachariah, there could be a consequence of our actions of saying ” Yes but…”
~Angela Lipe-Pattengill / Ordained Minister