03 Luke 1.57-80
Open to Luke 1:57-80 (pg. 1589)
Some missionaries were home on furlough staying with a church family. When dinner came the missionary children were called and reminded to wash their hands. The little boy, resistant to wash his hands, turned toward the bathroom and was overheard saying, “Germs and Jesus, germs and Jesus. That’s all I hear, and I’ve never seen either of them!”
v RQ: Have you ever felt like this little boy?
Ø Have you ever had a lapse in your faith?
§ Or perhaps you are like me, lapses in your faith!
Ø Have you ever had a time when you questioned the workings of God?
Ø Have you ever doubted the Word of God?
§ We all would love to be able to say “No” to this question
· But I bet if we were all very honest, we would have to respond “Yes”
v There is a very short list in Scripture of people who had the gift of faith
Ø And perhaps some of you here today have it
§ That gift from the HS that enables you to have the Hebrews 11:1 kind faith
· Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
§ That gift from the HS that enables you to have the kind faith that Mary did
· “May it be as you have said”
v But we read in Scripture over and over again about people who doubt God’s Word from time to time
Ø Who act like that little missionary boy, “I’ve never seen Him!”
§ Who act like…
· Abraham & Sarah ~ Isaac
§ Who act like…
· Solomon ~ Turning to the idols of the Canaanites
§ Who act like…
· Zechariah in the temple
¨ And his lack of faith was displayed in the Temple when he asked for a sign
v Here we have to be very specific
Ø Doubt is not a sin
§ The opposite of Faith is not doubt
· The opposite of Faith is Disobedience
¨ What is a sin is acting on that doubt
Ø That is what Zechariah did…
In 1887, Henry Drummond preached a sermon in Northfield, Massachusetts, entitled Dealing With Doubt in which he made the following observations:
Christ never failed to distinguish between doubt and unbelief. Doubt is can't believe; unbelief is won't believe. Doubt is honest; unbelief is obstinacy. Doubt is looking for light; unbelief is content with darkness.
Loving darkness rather than light, that is what Christ attacked and attacked unsparingly. But for the intellectual questioning of Thomas, and Philip, and Nicodemus, and the many others who came to Him to have their great problems solved, He was respectful and generous and tolerant.
But how did He meet their doubts? The church says "Brand him!" Christ said, "Teach him."
When Thomas came to Him, denied His very resurrection, and stood before Him waiting for the scathing words and lashing for his unbelief…they never came. They never came. Christ gave him facts.
v We all have doubt from time to time…
Ø Honest questioning looking for light
v But it is when we act on that doubt…
Ø when we act in unbelief
Ø When we are content with the darkness…when we say can’t
§ That is when God says, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test”
· That is what Zechariah did in the temple
¨ And he was given 9 months to think about his disobedience
v And then the day came when he was given another chance to act in Faith…
Ø And that day was a very important day…
READ V. 59-63
The Act of Faith
v You can imagine Zechariah on this day
Ø Silent, for he cannot speak
§ Thinking of what the angel told him in the temple 9 months previous
§ But also thinking of the meaning of his child being circumcised
· It was not a cleanliness ritual
· It was a covenant rite
¨ I’m sure Zechariah being a priest had in his mind the very text that explained what this rite meant
Ø Gen 17:10-12 (pg. 23)
· The sign of the covenant was going to be administered
¨ That outer mark that symbolizes a spiritual reality
Ø The mark that points to God’s eternal promise to be faithful to His people
§ That symbol of God’s faithfulness
v The circumcision completed, the relatives assume that the child’s name will be Zechariah after the father, as was the custom of the culture
Ø Elizabeth states an emphatic “NO”
§ GK text construction almost yells it
v The relatives are stunned
Ø How can this be? This is not how it is done? This is unheard of!
§ So they turn to Zechariah to overturn Elizabeth’s decision
v The moment has come for Zechariah to act in faith
Ø The rite of God’s promised faithfulness has just been administered
§ RQ: Will Zechariah respond in faith?
v He asks for a block of wood covered in wax and writes…
Ø “His name is John”
There's a special relationship between flyer and catcher on the trapeze. The flyer is the one that lets go, and the catcher is the one that catches. As the flyer swings high above the crowd on the trapeze, the moment comes when he must let go. He arcs out into the air. His job is to remain as still as possible and wait for the strong hands of the catcher to pluck him from the air.
Here is the very important principle…The flyer must never try to catch the catcher. The flyer must wait in absolute trust for the catcher will catch him, but he must wait.
v At that very moment, Zechariah raises his hands and trust God’s Word
Ø At that very moment, he raises his hands and trusts God to catch him
§ In the face of the pressure of the crowd and culture
v And that is what God asks of us too!
Ø To place our trust in Him and in His Word regardless of what the crowd says or the culture dictates
§ And that is difficult to do…
· Our culture says respect everybody’s individual spiritual beliefs
¨ Be tolerant
¨ Don’t challenge
¨ Don’t push your beliefs on someone else
· The Bible says there is only one way to eternal life…Through Jesus Christ
¨ And that we are to share the hope that we have within us (1 Peter 3:15)
¨ We are to do this in spite of what the world thinks
Ø In spite of what your friends, neighbors, family think
§ RQ: Are you willing to lose you life to save it
· RQ: Are you willing to raise your hands and wait for Christ to catch you?
· If you are in School, the crowd says blend in, do what others around you are doing, swear, smoke, drink, do drugs, make fun of those who don’t fit in, gossip about your classmates…
¨ The Bible says (2 Cor 6)
Ø What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.
§ RQ: Are you willing to stand out and be different in your school
§ RQ: Are you willing to lose you life in order to save it?
§ RQ: Are you willing to raise your hands and wait for Christ to catch you?
v And as soon as Zechariah wrote those words, “His name is John”
Ø As soon as Zechariah acted in the faith
§ As soon as Zechariah raised his hands in faith
· The Lord caught Him
¨ And the results of his faith was His tongue was loosed
Ø And the first words to come out of His mouth were not what people expected…
The Result of Faith
v These were unexpected words for two reasons
v 1) They were unadulterated praise to God
Ø Here he has been struck deaf and dumb for the last 9 months
§ Very easily bitterness could have taken root
· RQ: Has anyone here ever been out of work?
¨ Zech was out of work for 9 months
v So easy to be bitter when life does not go the way you would like it
Leonard Holt was a paragon of respectability. He was a middle-aged, hard-working lab technician who had worked at the same Pennsylvania paper mill for nineteen years. Having been a Boy Scout leader, an affectionate father, a member of the local fire brigade, and a regular church attender, he was admired as a model in his community. Until that image exploded in a well-planned hour of bloodshed one brisk October morning.
A proficient marksman, Leonard stuffed two pistols in his coat pockets and drove to the mill. He walked slowly into his shop and began shooting with calculated frenzy. He filled several co-workers with two or three bullets apiece, firing more than thirty shots, killing some men he had known for more than fifteen years. Refusing to give himself up, Leonard was eventually shot and killed by the police.
Puzzled policemen and friends finally found a train of logic behind his brief reign of terror. Down deep within the heart of Leonard Holt rumbled the giant of bitterness. His monk-like exterior concealed the seething hatred within. The investigation yielded the following facts. Several victims had been promoted over him while he remained in the same position. The man was brimming with bitterness, resentment & rage that could not be held in any longer. Beneath his picture in Time, the caption told the story: "Responsible, Respectable, and Resentful.”
v Heb 12:15 states
Ø See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
§ It is so easy to let bitterness get a foot in the door of your life
· So many of life’s twists and turns keep us off balance
v That is what is so surprising about Zechariah’s first words
Ø Being deaf and dumb, he could not perform his job as a priest
§ He was out of work for 9 months
§ He could not communicate to anyone
v Yet his first words are…
Ø “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.
And these words are unexpected for another reason…
v 2) They were not about his son
Ø We would think reading this story that Zechariah would praise God for his miracle son
§ Yet only two verses are devoted to even mention him
· V 76-77
Ø The rest is devoted to proclaiming that the time has come for the long awaited gospel of the coming messiah!
§ Zechariah in verse 78 metaphorically describes this time as the dawn of a new era
· The rising sun will come to us from heaven
¨ At this time in redemptive history, there is finally a break in the darkness
Ø Just like when the sky turns that deep blue color just before dawn
§ The first indication that the night is over and the sunrise is imminent
Ø Zechariah looked beyond the blessing of his son, that was to be the long awaited and foretold Elijah
§ To the person he has come to prepare the way for
v Zechariah is proclaiming that with the coming of Christ there will be a new era
Ø An era that is described as…
§ V. 72 ~ Mercy
· By sending His one and only son
§ V. 69 & 71 ~ An Era of Salvation & Rescue
· Through His son coming and dying on the cross for our sins
§ V. 79 ~ An Era of Peace
· No longer will there be enmity between man and God
§ V. 75 ~ An Era of Holiness & Righteousness
· Christ comes so that we can live in a pure and right relationship with God
v And after Zechariah spouted these words of prophecy
Ø After he had basically proclaimed the Gospel to the people
§ Those words had a profound effect on the people
The Effects of Faith
v After Zechariah sang these great words of faith
Ø The people had various reactions
v And just as in Zechariah’s day…
Ø There are basically 3 effects when you speak the Gospel to someone…
v People filled with Awe
Ø GK word phobos
§ We get our word “fear” from it
· But in this context it means…
¨ religious awe because of contact with the supernatural
Ø The words of Zechariah had an impact on these people
§ Impact the same when we speak God’s word!
Ø We have to understand the power of the Word of God
§ Heb 4:12
· For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart
On the afternoon of November 22 1963 David Lodge was sitting in a theater watching a play that he helped write. In one scene a character switches on a radio that was to play in the background of a particular scene. They always used a real broadcast to give the play a sense of reality.
On this day, the radio was turned on only to announce the assassination of president Kennedy. The actors and audience sat stunned. The play was never completed that afternoon. Reality had broken into the façade of the play.
v That is the exact effect God’s Word has on people’s lives
Ø Although we many times don’t see it
§ We have to realize that the reality of God’s Word has that kind of power
The second effect that God’s word has is…
Ø Hill country talked about these things
§ The GK word here indicates an ongoing discussion
· When you share Christ with someone many times it will spark an ongoing discussion with that person
¨ Illustration: Jim Rushton (20 years)
This last effect of what Zechariah sang is perhaps the one that keeps the most people from sharing their faith…
Ø The people are described as asking questions about what Zechariah sang
v When you share Christ with someone, there are questions that arise…
§ What about all the other religions?
§ Isn’t the church just filled with hypocrites?
§ Is Christ really the only way to eternal life?
§ How can you be sure that Jesus was God’s son?
§ Isn’t the resurrection just a hoax?
§ Why do I need a savior, I’m doing just fine?
§ How can God be one and three at the same time?
v These and many more questions people are bound to ask once we come out of our Christian closet and share our faith
Ø And these questions keep many from sharing their faith
§ The reasoning is, “I’ll keep my mouth shut since I can’t answer them,”
v But we are missing the whole point when we do this…
Ø This is precisely when we should raise our hands and trust that Christ will catch us
v V 66
Ø The world says
§ “What a man thinks of Himself determines his fate” (Thoreau)
Ø God says
§ What I think of a man determines his steps
v There is also a list of People who did not doubt
Ø Joshua ~ Conquering Promised land
Ø The Apostle John ~ Believing Jesus was the Christ by following Him to the cross
v I’m sure Elizabeth’s did too
Ø When she was alone, no one around, maybe doing dishes, laundry
§ Looking down at her expanding belly
§ Remembering how the baby leapt in her womb when Mary came to visit
· But still…
¨ Is this the Elijah to come? Really?
Ø Spiritual Reflection
§ Good when people talk about God
· That is what we are trying to get people to do here in SWH
¨ Through Outreach lectures
Ø We should be reflecting spiritually as well
§ No time for it today, too busy
v I once had a patient, a sound atheist, who used to read in the British Museum. One day, as he sat reading, I saw a train of thought in his mind beginning to go the wrong way. The Enemy, of course, was at his elbow in a moment. Before I knew where I was I saw my twenty years work beginning to totter. If I had lost my head and begun to attempt a defense by argument, I should have been undone. But I was not such a fool. I struck instantly at the part of the man which I had best under my control, and suggested that it was just about time he had some lunch. The Enemy presumably made the counter suggestion (you know how one can never quite overhear what He says to them?) that this was more important than lunch. At least I think that must have been His line, for when I said, "Quite. In fact much too important to tackle at the end of a morning," the patient brightened up considerably; and by the time I had added "Much better come back after lunch and go into it with a fresh mind," he was already halfway to the door. Once he was in the street the battle was won. I showed him a newsboy shouting the midday paper, and a No. 73 bus going past, and before he reached the bottom of the steps I had got into him an unalterable conviction that, whatever odd ideas might come into a man's head when he was shut up alone with his books, a healthy dose of "real life" (by. which he meant the bus and the newsboy) was enough to show him that all "that sort of thing" just couldn't be true. He is now safe in Our Father's house.
Ø Q: At what?
§ Loosing of Tongue…No!
§ More importantly… Zechariah spoke Prophecy
· Text says in V. 66
¨ Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied…
§ So many people are confused as to what prophecy is
· Not future telling
¨ But telling forth
Ø Speaking the very words of God
§ In this small section there are some 33 references to OT texts
§ After 400 years of silence prophecy was back!
· Malachi was the last prophet Yahweh sent around 432 BC