|Father bless this chat room and the people in
it. We pray that You, Father will enlighten us with new light from Your Holy Word tonight.
Open our hearts and minds to the richness of the Gospel of Luke.
Father we bind satan and kick him from our presence in the Holy name of Jesus.
Father God for those who desire to conceive a child as Elizabeth and Zachariah did, cleanse the mother's womb and prepare it for the child that is coming in Jesus Name. Grant the desire of her heart as you granted my mom's desire, and so many barren women in the Bible! Father God as we begin the study tonight, we pray that you will anoint ears to hear and eyes to see the miracle you gave Elizabeth those many years ago. Increase the faith of all of us we pray. We lift the barren ones up to You that you might lift this infertility from them and we give them to You for Your healing power to flow over them tonight. Father, thank You for restoring them. In the name of Jesus. AMEN
We pray that your Comforter and Counselor, the Holy Spirit, will be our teacher and guide us into all truth.
Praise the Lord. Last time we were talking about Zachariah going into the temple to offer incense to the Lord, which was symbolic of the prayers of the people. He and his wife Elizabeth were both descendents of priests and lived holy and blameless lives before God. The word "elderly" literally translates to "bent over", well advanced in years. They were childless and felt that there chances to have a child were long gone. All of a sudden an angel appeared to the right of the altar and begins speaking to Zechariah. Zechariah is filled with fear but the angel speaks:
A son must have been the desire of his heart for many years, and a prayer often prayed. As the incense that symbolized the prayers of the people went up, God literally sent down an angel to answer then. The prayers of the people for deliverance and the prayers of Zechariah for a son. And this angel gave some awesome news. The elderly Zachariah and Elizabeth were to have a son named John. John (Hebrew Johanan) means "God is gracious".
Luke 1:14-15 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth [from his mother's womb].
Notice that John would be a joy and delight not only to his parents but to many and would also be great in the sight of the Lord. Further, he would never take fermented drink and would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth.
A Nazirite (Numbers 6:1-4) was a person who took a special vow to abstain from alcohol and from cutting his hair as a special act of dedication to God. Along with John, Samson (Judges 13:4-7) and Samuel (I Samuel 1:11) were dedicated as Nazirites from birth. Remember how Samson was overpowered when Delilah had his hair cut? It was a sign that he broke faith with God and therefore lost his strength. Samuel, however, kept his vows, and was a mighty prophet before God during the reign of King Saul and King David.
Nazirite is Not to be confused with NazARENE, which meant "coming from the hill country of Nazareth", as in Jesus the Nazarene.
Not only was John to be a Nazirite from birth, but was filled with the Holy Spirit literally "from his mother's womb". Later on we are told when he was filled - his mother was 6 months pregnant. This ought to give the pro-abortionists something to think about!
Gabriel goes on to give more information about John's mission:
Luke 1:16-17 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
John was to be a preacher of repentance, to prepare the way of the Lord, and brought back many to their faith in God. There had been 400 years of prophetic silence between the Old Testament and the coming of Jesus, and the Jews were suffering under the political domination of Rome. So God's people were longing for deliverance and for a word from God!
Could you imagine - 400 years without a spokesman for God? It seemed as if they had been forgotten by God, and many had become discouraged. But John was going to be the forerunner of Jesus " and he will go on before the Lord" and begin to announce the good news of Christ's coming.
"In the spirit and power of Elijah" Elijah was an Old Testament prophet that other prophets predicted would return to earth to proceed the coming of the Messiah. In fact, every Passover, the Jews would set a cup for Elijah at the table with an empty chair, and later in the celebration, send their children to open the door so Elijah can come in and announce the Messiah has come.
So for 400 years of prophetic silence, they had been setting that place at the table, pouring that cup of wine, and opening the door for Elijah to come in and say, "Messiah is here!" Now expectation of the Messiah was at fever pitch and many were earnestly looking for him. Kind of like today, as 2000 rolls around, a lot of people are expecting Christ to return. The last prophetic words written in the Old Testament were:
Malachi 4:5-6 "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."
So the people were expecting Elijah - and Gabriel says that John was to come in the "spirit and power of Elijah" What does "to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" mean?
Does anybody have an opinion? Look at today. Divorce is at an all time high. Fathers are abandoning their children, not showing them love and attention, not fulfilling their roles as priests and leaders of their households. And the children, not having discipline or restraint, lose all respect for authority, particularly their fathers, and are rebellious and hard hearted.
And it must have been the same in that day. According to the Law, husbands could divorce their wives for any and every reason by simply saying "I divorce you" three times. What chaos that must have caused! And without stable families, the community suffers and the nation. So a key element of the restoration to godliness in that day (and ours) began in the family. So I think it included: Renewal of family bonds, return to religious heritage, stablity of the family, renewal of moral teaching, renewal of proper spiritual authority, return from rebellion.
Gabriel also says "the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" John would have an awesome and a glorious responsibility - to be the forerunner of the Messiah and to make the Jewish people ready!
This verse from Malachi was the last inspired word of God for 400 years! And the angel prophesied that the birth of John would fulfill it. Why do you think God been silent for 400 years? Probably because when He had spoken, the people had not listened. And isn't that how it is today? All the knowledge we have of God's Word and how many listen? This is what Malachi said
Malachi 3:14-15 "You have said, `It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.'"
The arrogant of this world - don't we call them blessed today? think about Donald Trump and all the deceitful politicians. And it does seem that evildoers prosper - and those who hate God, and blaspheme His name, and worship devils - they seem like they are escaping God's judgement. God help us NOT to have this attitude! But NOW in our study, God HAS begun to speak - first thru Gabriel to Zechariah.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
So picture Zechariah standing beside the altar listening to the angel break 400 hundred years of silence, making all these wonderful promises. What do you think you would have said? We too probably would put our foot firmly in our mouth like he did!
Luke 1:18 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."
What was wrong with Zecharaiah's question?
Right, he was speaking in unbelief. Zecharaiah was asking for a sign in disbelief, although as a priest he certainly had knowledge of scriptures where God had given aged couples a child - Abraham for example. Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90 when they conceived Isaac - and as a priest Zechariah should have known that. Paul said in I Corinthians 1:22 that:
Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom.
And Jesus said in Matthew 12:38-40:
Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, "Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you." He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Mom, you're right! Let's learn how to leave our burdens on the Lord's altar! Not bring them home. Leave them there!!!
This is awesome, think about it. Gabriel was standing in the presence of God Almighty, and God said, "Go down to earth, visit this old priest in the temple, and give him a message from me" Nowadays all kinds of people are claiming that all kinds of angels visit them, but a REAL visit from the throne of God is actually quite rare! Gabriel continues:
Luke 1:20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."
Why do you think Zechariah was punished by silence?
Yes he was punished for unbelief, but why with SILENCE? Why would the angel of God not want Zechariah to talk until the baby was born?
To keep him from speaking words of doubt and unbelief. To keep secret what was about to happen until the time came for it to be fulfilled. To give him time to meditate on God's Word in silence until he understood it and was ready to speak God's Word in faith!
What did Jesus say later about the Pharisees, who were always yapping first and thinking later?
Matthew 12:34-37 "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."
When we speak doubt, we speak in unbelief and are unable to receive the promises of God. When we speak words of faith and blessing, we are agreeing with God's Word, and it will come to pass in our lives.
Since Zechariah doubted even Gabriel, the angel who stood in God's presence and brought Zech. a message directly from God's throne, Gabriel wasn't gonna give him a chance to speak out in doubt, fear and unbelief and mess up God's plan!!!
Wonder how often we mess up God's plan for us by speaking out in disbelief, fear and doubt?
Luke 1:21-22 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
The Bible doesn't tell us how long Zechariah stayed in the temple, but it was way longer than usual. The people were waiting outside for him to return and SPEAK a blessing to them. But when he came out, he couldn't do that! They realized something awesome had happened, that he had had a vision, and he tried to explain by signs what had happened, because sure enough, he could not speak. How would you explain by signs that you'd seen an angel???? I believe I would have gone home right away, but Zechariah stayed and performed his duties.
Luke 1:23-25 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. "The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people."
Why do you think Elizabeth remained in seclusion?
Athie, they weren't as public about it as we are now, but the passage seems to imply that she actually hid from everyone. The Bible doesn't say for sure - but perhaps she wanted to hide herself until she could PROVE she was pregnant before making the announcement. What did she mean by "he has...taken away my disgrace"?
Because God had made her "with child" which took away the stigma of her being barren It's hard for us to understand perhaps in this day of birth control and overpopulation, what a shame it was not to have children. But now, even as old as she was, she could hold her head up high. Even the pompous Pharisees could no longer look down on her and perhaps accuse her of some secret sin.
But she gave glory to the Lord! She recognized the source of her gift! Now Gabriel had another task. There was another message that God had for a very special girl.
In those days, betrothal was a contract as binding as marriage. You had to have a divorce to get out of it. And Mary was promised to Joseph and she was a virgin. Every Jewish woman wanted to have a son, because he might be the promised Messiah! But no body, but nobody, expected the Messiah to come from lowly Nazareth! It was a tiny town, and no great leader or prophet had ever come from there. " "Nazarene" was practically the same as "despised".
John 1:46 "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip.
Now the Messiah was predicted to come from the house or lineage of David, and Joseph did fit that description. But there were many in Israel who also did. Gabriel greeted her:
Luke 1:28-29 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
Imagine a humble jewish girl from a tiny despised town being visited by a mighty angel, spokesman for God! And to say that she was highly favored of God. She was probably asking herself, why would God favor ME?
Amplified But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled and disturbed and confused at what he said, and kept revolving in her mind what such a greeting might mean.
That's right ES, it was her very humility that made her a vessel God could use. And the Bible also bears out that God uses the weak, the humble the little things that He might get the glory and not man! What the angel said next must have confused her even more:
Luke 1:30-31 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
Jesus is the English form of Joshua, Yeshua in the Old Testament, which means deliverer or savior.
We need to stop here tonight. But be thinking about the question that Mary asked the angel, "How will this be since I am a virgin?" as compared to Zechariah's "How can I be sure of this?"
Father God we thank you for Your Holy Word and praise you that you have blessed us with it. Help us to have the humility and faith of your servant Mary who was willing to do your will no matter what it might cost her. Bring your word to our remembrance Lord and help us to put it into practice this week. In Jesus Name. AMEN
Father I ask that you give each and everyone gathered here tonight a secure, blessed week. Father, we praise you for your son, our lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins. Father we praise you for the rich blessing of this Your Holy word. In Jesus name.AMEN
Grace and peace and blessings to you all from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. AMEN
Remember, whenever God
gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate
on what you've learned!
|*Picture Source: Unger, Merrill F. The New Unger's Bible Handbook. Revised by Gary N Larson. Moody Press, Chicago, 1966: 1984.|
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