8 Once when Zechariah was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense.

10Now at the time of the incense-offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.

12When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him.

This would have been the highpoint of Zechariah’s life. Providence had smiled upon this priest. To be “chosen by lot… to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense” was something he had certainly longed and hoped for all his life. This was the fulfillment of Zechariah’s calling.

I suppose we all get these highpoints from time to time, moments when the stars seem to align in our favour. Everything flows; we know we are in precisely the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. What more could we hope for?

But, perhaps there is more. There certainly was more for Zechariah.

zechariah-angelAt this most holy and anointed moment Zechariah got more than he had bargained for. In the stillness, as the aromatic smoke rose from the altar, “an angel of the Lord” appeared “standing at the right side of the altar of incense.”

An angel is a messenger. This angel was an “angel of the Lord.” An “angel of the Lord” is a messenger of truth, a revealer of mystery. I do not know what Zechariah’s angel sounded like, what tone of voice he used.

The angels of the Lord in my life have usually arrived clothed as people who saw reality and spoke truth. They have emerged, always unexpected, and their words have cut through the dense haze of confusion that so often obscures my vision.

Like Zechariah, when I hear these unexpected words of truth, these “angels of the Lord,” I am often “overwhelmed,” stunned into silence. I am not sure I want to listen.

How do I hear angels of the Lord in my life?

Do I want to hear the truth they speak?

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