Numbers 19:1‐20:29; Luke 1:1‐25; Psalm 56:1‐13; Proverbs 11:8
Zechariah’s Non-Routine Encounter
Zechariah was a Jewish priest and was of the division of Abiathar, one of the twenty-four divisions of priests carrying out responsibilities in the temple. Each day one priest from the division of priests on duty was chosen by lot to go into the Holy Place of the temple and burn incense on the altar of incense.
On one particular day, as accounted in Luke 1:1-25, the job of entering the temple fell to Zechariah by lot. So, in accordance with procedure, after preparing himself for his work, he entered the temple. However, what he encountered was quite unusual and unexpected. He met an angel in the temple. Luke states that Zechariah was “gripped” with fear. It seems that the word “gripped” was chosen to reflect that Zechariah felt such fear that he thought he was about to die (See Judges 6:22-23).
In our daily lives it is hard to imagine such fear but for Zechariah it became a reality. It is not hard to imagine that Zechariah, while preparing himself for entry into the temple, paying attention to the details of caring for the house of God, probably did not expect to actually encounter God’s messenger and to experience such fear at that particular time.
Eventually, we will all encounter fear to one extent or another. When we do, we need to remember the comforting words of promise that applies to those who trust in God and as heard by Zechariah and others of God’s family: “Do not be afraid,” “Peace, do not be afraid,” “…I shall fear no evil for You are with me…” (Luke 1:13; Judges 6:23; Psalm 23).
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
Lake Mary, FL