Luke 1:8-12 :
Now it happened, while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to enter into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. The whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.
An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.
Luke starts his record by describing the eyewitness account of an angelic visitation. Some don’t believe in the Bible because it records supernatural events like these. It is extremely important for us to realize that just because things like this don’t happen very often, doesn’t mean that they never happen. God is the one who decides when He will do supernatural things and since the Bible is all about God, it actually makes sense that many supernatural things would be recorded in it.
God is heavily involved with the Jewish nation and supernatural events are common with them, just ask their enemies. Even in recent history, Israel has enjoyed, statistically unlikely success in wars and commerce. Even the land, which once was desolate, is now full of life since the nation came back together. The fact that an ancient people that had been so separated and persecuted actually came back together, is itself unusual.
Angels are not beautiful women or flying babies. People are usually frightened by their appearance. Zacharias’ fear was a common response to them in the Bible. We live in a natural world and things work best for us when things happen naturally. At times God needs to intervene on our behalf and He sends his messengers. The angels are aware of our terror and they almost always respond the same way when they are sent from God to righteous people as we see next. There were other reasons for a priest to be terrified, however. God could strike a person dead for not coming into his presence the right way. Sinners cannot enter God’s presence any way they want to. Zacharias was known by God to do things the right way as Luke had already mentioned, so we know that this wasn’t a bad meeting. If you want to study more about the rules in for Jewish priests and their activities in the temple, study the Old Testament book of Leviticus where it is described in detail. It is interesting that Dr. Luke records which side of the alter the angel stood. This shows us how much care he put into the details of his record. Not only was the angel really there, Luke tells us exactly where the angel was in the room.