Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
God Comes to Zechariah - December 7, 2016 - Second Advent Midweek - Text: Luke 1:5-25
Last week we followed along as the angel, the pre-incarnate Christ, Jesus Himself in bodily form before His birth as a man came to reiterate His covenant with Abram whose name He changed to Abraham. This week we hear the angel announce to Zechariah that Elizabeth would have a son who would be the one who would make straight the way for the Savior of the world.
This evening we begin with the angels announcement to Zechariah. So, what do we know about Zechariah and Elizabeth? What is it that makes them so special that they should be the parents of the forerunner of the Savior? Our text tells us that they were both were descendants of Aaron (v. 5). That simply means that they were a part of the family of priests who cared for the Lord’s temple. We would probably all agree that is not something that would necessarily make them worthy to be a part of God’s plan of salvation.
We know that both Zechariah and Elizabeth were upright in the sight of God (v. 6), our text says that they were “walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.” They both observed the Lord’s commandments and regulations without fault. Yet, again we would probably all agree that still is not something that would necessarily make them worthy to be a part of God’s plan of salvation.
And we know that they had no children (v.7). This being without children was a sign of being cursed by God which would definitely rule out their being worth of having a part in God’s plan of salvation. Adding insult to injury, our text goes on to state the fact that they were both past child bearing years. As we look at these facts about Zechariah and Elizabeth we can see that there really was nothing on their part, that made them worthy to be a part of God’s plan of salvation. And we see that in and of themselves, it seems impossible that they would have any part. But, that is the beauty of the whole arrangement of God’s plan, for you see, God does not do things according to our own reason and logic. God chooses and uses the people He does to show that He is the one who is in control, that He is the one doing the choosing, indeed, giving His gifts when and where He pleases regardless of the one being given to, and so praise and glory are given to Him alone.
We might say that Zechariah and Elizabeth are a microcosm of our own lives. Certainly we are conceived and born in sin. We daily sin much and are in need of forgiveness and there is nothing in us deserving of what our Lord promised and was about to bring to fulfillment, the sending of the one who would take care of the punishment for our sins. Even though we are quite unworthy, yet it is by God’s grace that we too are chosen and saved.
We know that Zechariah and Elizabeth did not deserve what they were given, that is why it was given to them by grace. By God’s grace He chose them to have a part in His plan of salvation. With that fact established, let us move on to, what happened in the temple? First we are told that “coincidentally” Zechariah was chosen, by lot to serve in the temple. We know there is no such thing as a coincidence and we know that it was by the Lord’s hand (v.8,9) as He directed the choosing of the lot, that he was chosen for service.
While in the temple the angel, Gabriel, appeared to him (v. 11-12). Gabriel announced something that was humanly impossible was about to happen. He announced that Elizabeth would give birth to a son (v. 13-17). Zechariah and Elizabeth, though old and she being barren, would have a son.
To this announcement Zechariah shows his skepticism (v. 18). And here we will notice a difference between how Zechariah questioned the angel compared to, when next week we hear, Mary who asks questions of the same angel. Zechariah shows his true skepticism. He wants proof. He is old. Elizabeth is old. He cannot believe what the angels says and so he wants concrete proof that what the angel is announcing is true. Does not this remind us of why God tells us to have faith as a child, since children have not yet developed the skepticism that we adults have.
In response to his skepticism, Gabriel announces a sign (v. 19-20). The sign, the concrete evidence, the proof was that Zechariah would not be able to speak until the words which he spoke would come true, in other words, until the baby was born and named, Zechariah would be dumb, unable to speak.
When Zechariah finally came out of the temple, after what must have been quite a delay as we are told the people were waiting and wondering at his delay, since he was unable to speak the people realized that something had happened. Many believed he had seen a vision. It must have been quite frustrating for Zechariah to not be able to speak as he attempted to make signs and yet they did not understand.
So, our text tells us that Zechariah finished his work for the day, and for the week (v. 21-24) and then he went home. We are told that Elizabeth became pregnant according to the word of the Lord (v. 24). And we are told that Elizabeth hid herself (v. 25). She hid herself because in her great joy of no longer being barren she did not want people to continue to look at her with their looks of pity on her, because of her barrenness. She hid herself until she was showing because she knew if she did tell people that she was pregnant they would more than likely not believe, after all she was beyond child bearing years. Finally, after she began to show that she was pregnant she did show herself so they would not look upon her with pity any longer.
This evening we hear the beginning of the end. We hear the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise God gave to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. We hear the beginning of the promise of the birth of the way preparer for the Savior.
This evening we hear how God is intervening in human history to fulfill His promise. God is intervening with the preparations for the coming Messiah and as we will see He is intervening by being born in human flesh to give His life for the world. And yes we are seeing the beginning of the Kingdom of God entering the world, that is that as Jesus is born so He ushers in the last days. Yes, we are living in the last days as the events bring the last days to their beginning.
This evening we also hear how, with God, all things are possible. We may have a hard time understanding and believing the events that are being described and that are about to take place, but their taking place is not dependent on our belief. I remember seeing a church sign once that said, “Miracles happen to those who believe.” I wanted so bad to stop and correct their sign, to make it true. The person who put up the sign should have stopped after the second word, “Miracles happen.” They happen, not because you and I believe they happen, they happen because God makes them happen, when and where He pleases. Yes, all things are possible with God.
This evening we continue what we began two Sundays ago, preparing ourselves for our Christmas celebration as we get ourselves ready for the birth of the one who will prepare the way for the Savior, namely the birth of John the Baptist. We get ourselves ready as we bring to mind all those passages of promise that are beginning to be fulfilled. We get ourselves ready as we see the beginning of the end because it is Jesus who ushers in the end times. May the Lord continue to prepare your hearts and minds for the celebration of His Son. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.