When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Adijah, and his wife Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God's eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord's commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old. One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying. While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. But the angel said, "Don't be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John." (NLT)
It is almost like this is one of God's favorite miracles. How many times has he brought life to a womb, that is long past the age of motherhood. The God who spoke from mountain is able to open and close wombs at his pleasure. There is no human explanation for the birth of John the Baptist. His parents had long given up on having a family of their own. They were old, and the hope must have died in then long ago. They found favor in the eyes of God for their righteousness. They were chosen by God to parent the messenger that had been foretold by the prophets. He would make the path straight for the Lord.
Can you imagine the shock of Zechariah. He is in the sanctuary burning incense. He had probably done this numerous times before. All of sudden, an angel appears to him. If that weren't the most shocking thing, the angel tells him and his old wife are going to be parents. The verse said he was shaking in fear. What if we were to have an encounter like this? How would we look at the world differently? If we have a shocking face to face encounter with something beyond this earth? We have that ability. The Spirit has come. When we encounter the Spirit of God, how can we do anything but tremble in fear before him?