Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. Luke 1:11-12 (NIV)
We may be holding off the thought of the Presence and existence of God until we have a little more information about Him. We may want to give time for the weight of understanding on our part has grown sufficiently in a positive direction. But as we begin to read the book of Luke, we come quickly to this text on the appearance of an angel. What can we do? Are we forced to make a decision now whether or not to embrace the idea of all supernatural events and entities? Shall we attempt to draw more light on the subject? Can we study the situation and the reaction for a moment?
Luke tells in the account of Zechariah that the angel appeared to him next to the altar where he was to burn the incense before God. It is described as a reverent moment of worship. The people were outside praying. The lot fell to Zechariah to enter before the altar dedicated to the Lord to burn the incense. This messenger that appeared to him is explained as being of the Lord. As Zechariah saw him, he got scared. Here is a man, devoted to the worship of God and serving the people, and as he realizes that a messenger actually appeared to him personally, he was gripped with fear. Should we think that in a similar situation it would be similar for us?
Can we imagine that it is us who are to approach the Lord in reverent worship? We are aided along by the sincere prayers of others. Then as we are there to offer up our sweet fragrance of worship, there comes to us a messenger from above! Our reality is torn apart in an instant! We are facing something that science cannot help us prove! Our grounded earthly mentality is ripped away and we are faced with the uncertainty of unlimited possibilities! Perhaps we ourselves cannot explain it. Is it an apparition? Is it real? Is it in our head? Whatever the case, what do we know? It is frightening! It leaves us unstable and overwhelmed! But should these be appropriate reactions of mortal beings that just made contact with some small contact from God above? Would it be right for us to be left completely blown away when confronted directly by an expression to us from the Almighty? The moment God moves into our conscious awareness, do we think that we will be extremely affected and quite certainly afraid? Would it be scary to finally see what limitlessness is? Does it frighten us to lose the fixed laws of nature which we depend upon in our world for security?
Do we need a comforting thought as we consider the weight and fear of actually being confronted by the All-knowing and All-powerful God? Could we cling to the fact that He has conveyed to us His concern for us? Should we remember that He says He made us and that He is working for us to be together? Could we think of His gesture of love as He sent His only Son to us to live with us, teach us of Him, then to die for us? Could we remember that His gesture of connecting with us in this instant is also part of that great plan to bring us to Him?
Dear Lord, we may not know how to take the thought of being visited by angelic beings. But please allow us to accept Your gestures of goodwill towards us. It may terrify us to think that there is an unlimited reality just beyond our powers to detect. But as we consider it, let us be reassured by the nature of Your love. As scary as it may be, allow us closer to You and to understanding we pray.