Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer.
“Do not fear” is a command given by God. Numerous people heard these words throughout scripture. God speaks similarly to us today. We must remember that these words are a command. They are not just a suggestion. It is interesting that God often follows this directive with a further revelation or interaction. When He requires us to do something, He helps us do it.
According to the Christian calendar, Advent will begin Sunday. This is a time of preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. May we also use this period as a time of preparing our hearts to gain insight of how not to fear.
Between now and Christmas, we are going to look at four Christmas characters who were told to not be afraid. Today we begin with Zechariah.
While Zechariah was in the temple burning incense, an angel appeared to him. Luke 1:12 says, “Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear.” I can’t blame him! An angel would startle anyone. There were two reasons for him not to be afraid. First, he was not to be fearful of this heavenly being’s appearance. Secondly, he was not to be afraid that God had not heard his prayers.
The angelic messenger told Zechariah that Elizabeth would finally have a child. According to verse 14, Zech and Liz would experience joy instead of fear.
We can be assured that God will also answer our prayers. Psalm 91:15, “He will call on Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” Calling is praying.
The Lord says in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Zechariah heard things he did not understand. He was not confident about what he was hearing. In Luke 1:18, Zechariah asked, “How can I be sure of this?” After questioning God, Zechariah was not able to speak until his son John was born.
During this time of silence, I assume that Zechariah’s fear was replaced with faith. He had a lot of time for quiet meditation. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” This verse applies to us as well as Zechariah. When we become anxious and fearful, let us be quiet and listen for the Lord. We must allow faith to overpower our fear.
Hebrews 11:1 NLT states, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” I also like the New King James translation which says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” A note in the Spirit Filled Life Bible points out that this is not a definition of faith. This is a description of how faith works. Faith is the assurance of what God promises. Faith is being confident that God is constantly working behind the scenes in our lives even when we do not see any tangible evidence.
An anonymous quote says, “Faith allows things to happen. It is the power that comes from a fearless heart. And when a fearless heart believes, miracles happen.” This was true for Zechariah. When he replaced the fear in his heart with faith, the miraculous birth of John the Baptist transpired with Zechariah and Elizabeth being the parents. God’s faithfulness was stronger than Zechariah’s fear.
Fear and faith cannot coexist. My Reader, may you not only hear God say to you, “Do not fear.” – also hear Him say, “Have faith.”