Gripped with fear
Luke 1: 12 “When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.”
Whenever Gabriel appears there is the same response. Whether with Daniel in 8:17 or Mary later in Luke 1:30 or here with Zechariah, each one were greatly afraid.
Daniel described Gabriel’s appearance in 10: 6 “His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.” Reading that we can understand how Zechariah was paralysed with fear.
Today everywhere in the world ordinary people will get the fright of their life.
The doctor will call them with news. Their boss will say “Come into my office, we need to talk.” The list is endless. The outcome is either that the startled listener will run away, bury their head in the sand and not want to think about it anymore or they will react and fight with all their might with a rage that reveals this life is unfair and there is no justice in the world. Those 2 responses are common and understandable. We would never criticise someone who reacts like that. But there is another way. It is to be gripped with fear.
If today you are simply in shock, you are frozen, unable to think properly or move normally, if you are in auto-pilot, gripped with fear, then perhaps you are perfectly positioned to hear God.
God needs to give Zechariah a message. God has a plan, it is audacious, the greatest thing that has and will ever happen, it is for mankind and it starts with a prayer that Zechariah and his wife held on to. How does God choose to communicate that to Zechariah in order that the message is not aborted by Zechariah ruining it before it has begun? He does it by sending Gabriel knowing that if He does, then Zechariah has a number of response options. Zechariah has the opportunity to run through the curtain and out of the Temple at top-speed or try and hit Gabriel with the seven-branched golden lampstand which is at hand or and as we know what he decides to do, to stop doing what he is doing, be overwhelmed with what is before him and above all to listen carefully to what might be said.
To be gripped with fear is to try and ascertain what is before you, is it friend or foe?
To be gripped with fear is to stop doing life at the speed you were doing it at.
To be gripped with fear is to pay attention to what really does matter right now.
To be gripped with fear is temporary.
To be gripped with fear in the presence of Heaven is okay because the first thing that will happen is that the presence will work with you to lift off this fear so that you can hear revelation.
To be gripped with fear in the presence of Heaven is the safest place to be.
To be gripped with fear in the presence indicates you have been chosen and appointed.
Do you get it? We worship, we pray, we long for the presence and the majority of times the presence comes with a kiss. But there are days when Gabriel comes and when he comes the kiss turns to fear. And that is okay. Presence is all that is needed. He is here. He is with you.