Zechariah didn’t believe the angel. So, now the angel must identify himself as God’s messenger. In the most authoritative tone that rises to insurmountable proportions, Gabriel utters a word that sets not just Zechariah, but all unbelief back on it’s heels:
“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God.” Volumes are bound up in these few words! It’s as if Gabriel were saying, “What? You don’t believe me? That’s the end of the matter. Who do you think you’re talking to now? What? Do you think that God is like everyone else, unable to see the whole picture? What? Is God’s mind so addled or his power so frail that he cannot perform this simple task? I’m not simply some “fly-by-night” messenger boy who just went through puberty. My knowledge of life didn’t begin yesterday. This message I bring to you was written on the parchment of eternity before ever there was a universe, much less an earth and sinners upon it. You imagine, do you, that your faithlessness can prevent the sure mercies of God? Can the Almighty not open the Red Sea and stop the sun in it’s path for a day. Has he not given life to the dead, and children to the childless, and salvation to the hopeless? What impossibility has the Lord God NOT performed that you should doubt him now? You are a mere man of few years and yet I cannot do as I say? I tell you, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God.” Rest assured, Christmas birth and Easter resurrection are my plan, and shall I not carry it out? In a universe of such complexity that boggles the minds of the wisest men, shall it be thought the least bit inconceivable that I have considered every possibility and planned out perfectly every detail and enabled every person in my will? Archimedes may have said, “Give me a lever and I can move the world.” That’s child’s play. I remind you again, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God.”
O dear Christian, what task looms so large before your eyes that God cannot change it? What sin has captured you from which this God cannot free you? What Katrina catastrophe or Connecticut* tragedy unseats our God from his throne of eternal wisdom and limitless compassion? When shall we learn like Job, to cup our hand over our mouth and say no more? Mysteries abound all about us. We have entered into a realm inexplicably outside our ability to understand. But, Oh, not one which we cannot appreciate. For he who formed all things beautiful has granted unto man the eyes to see it, so that both the beauty and our discerning eye swell our hearts for the Creator.
*Reference to the senseless slaughter of an entire kindergarten class with the principal and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, 14 Dec., 2012.