Have you ever considered how we respond to God's voice?
There are many ways God speaks to us.
He speaks through His Word.
He speaks to our spirit.
He speaks through our prayers.
He speaks to us in dreams and visions.
He uses other people to speak to us with a word from Him.
These are not the all-inclusive ways God speaks to us. In Biblical times He spoke through angels. He spoke through the angel Gabriel.
What do we know about the angel Gabriel in the Bible?
We know that God used the angel Gabriel to deliver some crucial messages. As far as I know, Gabriel appears three times to three different people. First, to the prophet Daniel, in (Daniel 8:16); next to the Kohen Zechariah to announce the miraculous birth of John the Immerser (Luke 1:11-20), and then to Miriam (the mother of Yeshua) to tell her that she would conceive and bear a son, referenced in (Luke 1:26-38).
For purposes of this teaching, I want to focus on Zechariah and Miriam. I want to highlight the differences in their attitudes and responses once they heard the voice of the Lord from the angel Gabriel.
11 An angel of Adonai appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 Zechariah was in turmoil when he saw the angel, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give birth to your son, and you will name him Yochannan (John). 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 He will be great before Adonai; and he should not drink wine and intoxicating beverage,[a] but he will be filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh just out of his mother’s womb. 16 Many of Bnei-Yisrael will turn to Adonai their God. 17 And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to the children and the disobedient ones to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready for Adonai a prepared people. 18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? I’m an old man, and my wife is well-advanced in age.” 19 And speaking to him, the angel declared, “I am Gabriel, the one standing in God’s presence. I was commissioned to tell you and proclaim to you this good news. So look, you will be silent and powerless to speak until the day these things happen, since you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their time.”
Can you imagine Zechariah was performing his priestly duty in the holy place, and much to his surprise, he gets a visitation from the angel Gabriel? There is no way of knowing how old Zechariah and Elizabeth were. The Bible states they were old, past childbearing age. There are accounts of anywhere from 60 to 90 years old.
Gabriel appears with a message from God letting him know that he and his wife will have a child who will be called Yochannan (John). He hears the news, and yet he doubts. His lack of faith caused him to question the angel, but it was his attitude that was offensive. He wondered how it would be possible to have a child at their age. (Never mind that this whole exchange was supernatural! And never mind that God sent Gabriel to bring good news to him that his prayer had been heard. WOW!) Yet, he chooses to doubt.
I wonder, do we doubt when we hear God speaking to us? It is okay to question, but it's the attitude of the heart that matters. Now let’s look at Miriam and her reaction to the angel Gabriel.
26 Then in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by Adonai into a town in the Galilee named Natzeret27 and to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Miriam. 28 And coming to her, the angel said, “Shalom, favored one! Adonai is with you.” 29 But at the message, she was perplexed and kept wondering what kind of greeting this might be. 30 The angel spoke to her, “Do not be afraid, Miriam, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you shall call His name Yeshua.32 He will be great and will be called Ben-Elyon. Adonai Elohim will give Him the throne of David, His father. 33 He shall reign over the house of Jacob for all eternity, and His kingdom will be without end.”34 Miriam said to the angel, “Howcan this be, since I am not intimate with a man?” 35 And responding, the angel said to her, “The Ruach ha-Kodesh will come upon you, and the power of Elyon will overshadow you. Therefore, the Holy One being born will be called Ben-Elohim. 36 Behold, even your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son in her old age; and the one who was called barren is six months pregnant. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”38 So Miriam said, “Behold, the servant of Adonai. Let it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel left her.
In these passages, we see Gabriel visiting Miriam, the mother of Yeshua.
She is perplexed by his greeting, but that does not cause her to doubt. The angel prepares to tell her that she will become pregnant and have a son; he even tells her what his name will be and who he is. He announces that his kingdom will have no end. Then she asks a question. Her attitude and words are curious but not doubting. He explains how it will happen and informs her about her relative Elizabeth, who is six months pregnant. He says that nothing is impossible with God. Wow. We all need to hear that! Nothing is impossible with God.
All that the angel said was good enough for her. So she answered, "Let it be done according to your word." This response is opposite to that of Zechariah. Her attitude was faith-filled, and doubt was not an issue. She had faith, hope, and trust. She did not understand all that was said, but she still believed. Zechariah let doubt lead his response.
In comparing these two, it occurred to me that there are two ways we can react when we hear a message from God. We can choose to believe — or not.
My whole point in bringing up these two stories is to remind us that we must keep watch on our thoughts, words, and the condition of our hearts. When the Lord speaks to us, our decision to respond rightly will bring about the greatest glory.
Psalm 119:11 "I have treasured Your word in my heart, so I might not sin against You."
As we approach this Resurrection and Passover season, let us remember how we react and respond when the Word is spoken to us and over us. Let us remember the price Yeshua paid for us not only during this season but always.
Dear God, help us to respond to You in trust, hope, and faith — understanding that, in time, You will make known to us the path of life and the good plan You have for us. Amen. God Bless you all,
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from The TLV Holy Scriptures: Tree of Life Version Author: Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society Publisher: Baker Print Publication Date: 2015