Luke 1:18-21 is the source of our Bible study this morning. Zacharias questioned Gabriel about what God had just told him. Here is the outline that Jackson Maya and I developed and a sermon below:
- Certainty is not the only reason to question.
- Confusion is from us, and may be more rebellion than reason
- Consequences will follow our unbelief
Questions, Confusion, Certainty, and Consequences (Luke 1:18-21)
I ask a lot of questions. A lot. All the time. So if the point of Zacharias getting shut-up for asking a question is for me to never to ask questions again, there is little chance I can apply this message very well. So, obviously, that is not the point. God doesn’t fault us for asking questions, so there is more to it than that. But what? (see, that is a good question.)
It is not the question, but the motive behind questioning. Out of all the questioning that I do, I know that sometimes it really is not about knowing an answer; it is about disagreeing with someone else’s answer. Zacharias’ situation will explain…
(1.) Certainty is not the only reason to question
Zacharias questioned Gabriel, saying “How shall I know this for certain?” The NASB adds the for certain to help us understand that Zacharias’ attitude was demanding and doubtful. Zacharias even shares the reason for his skepticism.
Zacharias wasn’t searching for understanding, he was insolent.
Gabriel responded to Zacharias’ tone well. The angel told Zacharias who he was–one who stands in the presence of God, Himself–and clarified that this message came straight from God. In other words, Zacharias should not doubt the message of God because God is God!
If we are ever to have certainty about anything, you will find it best in the presence of God. Our best reason will never produce certainty if it stands against what God has told us.
(2.) Confusion is from us, and may be more rebellion than reason
The situation is very understandable to us because God’s thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts. An honest objection may still linger, “But sometimes what God says confuses me.”
The first thing to help us deal with our honest objection is the verse which says, “God is not the author of confusion.” Therefore, confusion is from us and must be examined. We must consider if our being confused is because we are rebelling against what God has made clear.
Is it that we simply don’t like what God has declared? Is it that we are stalling for time, until God maybe will change His mind? Are we questioning because we really believe that we should get a say-so in the matter?
Questions about how God will do what he declares is not sinful, but unbelief is sin. We see this demonstrated as we contrast how Gabriel fielded Zacharias’ question versus how Gabriel responded to Mary in Luke 1:34. Mary also asked, “How this be?” But study all that was said and you will see that Mary trusted God, His message, and the messenger. She demonstrated what Jesus called, “childlike faith,” that is taking God at His word even though you don’t understand it all.
God is not the author of confusion, so we need to know where our confusion is coming from. Very likely, we may find that our questioning over any confusion is closer to rebellion than childlike faith.
(3.) Consequences will always arise from unbelief
Finally, we see that consequences arise from our unbelief. In Zacharias’ case, his impertinence demanded consequences. Zacharias was punished, struck mute until what God declared would come to pass. How this must have made Zacharias all the more eager to see God’s plan accomplished!
There are times when we all are skeptical, but realize that it may not be okay if we are being sinful in unbelief. Perhaps we don’t get punished every time we are arrogant and prideful toward God. But God is fully just and able to bring consequences to our sin. And it is for certain that we all will receive the final consequence of trusting in Jesus as our Savior or refusing to completely believe.
The consequences to believe God even when we don’t really see how God can do what He declares are amazing! We get to see God at work in surprising and even miraculous ways.
But what if you’re even a person who is a Christian, but you’re skeptical of God and His ways. Well then, you are probably very sad and conflicted in your religious practices. Zacharias was an upright priest, continuing to worship God throughout his life. But we also see how he snapped cynically even at the notion of good news. Do you say that you trust God, but are always questioning God?
Knowing the answers to life’s questions is not more important that trusting God. So stay open to God’s message and believe God with the faith of a child.
Pray, Jesus, help me to question my questioning heart, and not question Your goodness and love for me. Please remind me that when I sense confusion in my life to bring those feelings to You for examination. Jesus, I am yours. I want to believe what you’re telling me today.