Scripture makes clear that God does not take unbelief lightly. The New Testament gives an example of this in the story of Zacharias. In Luke 1, God promised the aging priest a miracle child, a son who would be a forerunner to the Messiah.

The angel Gabriel appeared to him, saying, “Your prayer has been heard, Zacharias. You will have a son, and you will call him John.” Zacharias, a godly, faithful servant who had prayed his whole life for the coming of the Messiah, was burning incense in the temple when he received this news.


Zacharias knew that since he and his wife were well past the age of conceiving a child, this was a heavy promise. He had to wonder, “How can this be? Elisabeth and I are both advanced in years.” He was stricken with unbelief.

Yet God did not excuse Zacharias’ lack of faith. He had no pity for his age or his service of devotion in the past. The fact is, God was not about to overlook unbelief even in such a dedicated servant. Instead, the angel told Zacharias:
“Behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season” (Luke 1:20).
This was a grievous punishment for Zacharias. His own son was going to herald the coming of the Messiah, but the priest himself would not be able to celebrate the news for the duration of his wife’s pregnancy.