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August 1, 2021 12:01 am
Zacharias the priest received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to offer incense in the temple of God. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his series in the gospel of Luke to describe an even greater privilege that Zacharias received: the visitation of an angel.
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Before the birth of Christ. God was silent for 400 years and no Luke tells us that silence is broken with the coming of a new prophet whose birth is being announced here in this episode, you mentioned not hearing from God through some truth. That's the position Israel was in the first century when Angel was about to pay a special visit to an elderly priest named Zacharias was his message and how does it pertain to the birth of our Savior. That's what were going to learn today on Renewing Your Mind in a sermon by Dr. RC scroll from the Gospel of Luke, there was in the days of Herod the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abidjan. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blame. They had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years, so it was that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division according to the custom of the priesthood. His lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord, and the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense that an angel of the Lord appeared to him standing at the right side of the altar of incense and when Zacharias saw him he was troubled, and fear fell upon him, the angel said do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John and you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink, and he will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go also. Before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just to make ready a people prepared for the Lord and Zacharias said to the angel, how shall I know this from an old man and my wife is well advanced in years. The angel answered and said to him, I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings, but behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time and the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple when he came out he could not speak to them in the they perceive that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remain speechless. So it was as soon as the days of the service were completed, that he departed to his own house. Now after these days his wife Elizabeth conceived.
She hid herself five months, saying, thus the Lord has dealt with me in the days when he looked on me to take away my reproach among the people just heard Luke's account of the enunciation of the angel Gabriel to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. And this of course is the inspired word of God himself. Please receive it as such.
Last week when we looked at the introductory words of the gospel of Luke we read that Luke promise to give to us and orderly account of all of the things that came to pass, with respect to the person and work of Christ. Now when one is giving and orderly accounts of things that take place one has to make a decision as to where you begin.
What is the first matter in the order that you're going to look at and in Luke's perception he begin not with the birth of Jesus, not with the appearance of John the Baptist in his public ministry, but he began with the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist and of the gospel writers. Luke is the only one who starts at this point and gives this this information regarding the impending birth of John the Baptist. I've said many times that John the Baptist is the most underrated person in the whole New Testament that is underrated by us, certainly not by the biblical writers, and above all, not by the Lord Jesus himself who said of John. None. Greater is ever appeared above John the Baptist and that the law and the prophets rule until John, but a new era and new Epoque breakthrough with the birth of John the Baptist. He will be again before we look at the text. Let's remember that there had been 400 years since the last prophecy had been uttered in Israel that after many prophets had come to speak God's word to the people of Israel in the Old Testament. Suddenly, after Malachi, God became silent. Not for a year, not for 10 years for 400 years. That's a long long time for God to be silent, and now Luke tells us that silence is broken with the coming of a new prophet whose birth is being announced here in this episode, it takes place. We are told by Luke in the days of Herod the king of Judea.
That's not an incidental historical point that we should overlook because these were days of trial and days of darkness for the people of Israel.
Herod was not a Jew. He was a puppet king of the oppressing Roman empire, and he ruled for 36 years from 40 BC to four BC. He was to the Jews what Nero was to the Romans and so these were dark days.
Indeed, when this episode that Luke records takes place. We are told in the days of Herod the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abidjan, his wife being one of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. It's interesting to me to look at the meaning of some of the names of people that appear in Scripture of the name of Zacharias means God has remembered again. Remember David in the Old Testament in the Psalms. He says bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all of his benefits. It is our habit to forget the things that God has done for us and so David reminds us that our soul should bless the Lord, and not be given to forgetfulness because God is a God who never forgets. And here after 400 years. The people were beginning to think that the Lord God omnipotent in his omniscience had laid that attribute aside and had suddenly become forgetful babies forgotten the promises that he made to Abraham. Where is that Messiah. He promised us centuries ago has he forgotten that he forget the promises that he made to the people of antiquity. Now this priest comes along, whose name means God has remembered again. Now in this 400 years of silence.
Zacharias appears on the scene is called a priest of the division of Abidjan and his wife was also from a priestly line and her name was Elizabeth and Zacharias and Elizabeth are described here is being both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless so that in God's sight. There righteous, not through the righteousness of Christ. But as I said, compared with other people. They The law. They love the law they were devoted to the things of God, and God was pleased with them but there was one unsolvable problem they had no children.
Elizabeth was barren, just as Sarah had been barren, Hannah had been barren, the mother of Sampson had been barren in their old age, and in those days as Elizabeth mentions later people would consider women who were barren with a sense of reproach.
The assumption they made us there must be some dark secret that lurks in the souls of this couple some hidden sin that nobody knows, because God has shut up the womb of Elizabeth and that's stresses whose divine displeasure with the Scripture says otherwise. There is no hidden sin. They were godly, blameless, nevertheless, to their own surprise, they were old and they were childless, and so it was were told that while he was serving as a priest before God in the order of his division according of the custom of the priesthood. His lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord, and the whole multitude of people was praying outside at the door outside at the hour of incense. Now what happened is the prayers were offered for the nation. On these occasions, both in the morning and the evening, but the vast multitude would come in the afternoon late afternoon. At dusk for the offering of these prayer and they would gather outside the temple and they would pray and they would watch they would watch the smoke came out of the temple because when the incense was made and burned the smoke would sprout up out of the roof of the temple, and that was the signal for the people fall on their faces in the courtyard and Thanksgiving that the prayers of intercession than their behalf had been offered the only thing I can think of the parallels that is in the Roman selection of a new pope. Recently we were in Roman on the square there of St. Peter's. Looking at the Vatican at that chimney were hundreds of thousands of people gather when it's time for the election of a Pope in when the bishops are gathered, they write their names on balance secret ballots and if there's not enough votes to elect a new pope.
They burn the ballots in a fire and the smoke comes out of the chimney and it's black and that means that a Pope is not in select the people groan. Then when finally the College of Cardinals come to a consensus and they agree upon a selection for the papacy, they put a certain chemical in the fire with the ballots that are burned. The turns the smoke from black to white and when the people in St. Peter's Square see the white puff of smoke come out of the chimney. They are elated at the time of jubilation. While we don't participate in that sort of thing, but it was not on or dissimilar to what the people were experience that they as they waited to see the smoke come out. Of the temple, and of course they were accustomed after they saw the smoke that in a very short period of time. The priest who had offered the prayers would come out all the temple and they would all rejoice together but this day something happened. Something went wrong.
It seemed to the watching multitude when an angel of the Lord appeared to sector standing on the right side of the altar of incense and when Zacharias saw him he was troubled, and fear fell upon that Zechariah and his service is suddenly and dramatically interrupt by the appearance of an angel, who tells us at the beginning that he's going to give us the facts. He's going to give us that which he is research the pure history of these things and up to the very first chapter here we are talking about Angels and in our modern era. This seems the smack of the mythological and is one of the supernatural elements of Scripture that the skeptics in the Centex repudiate.
I remember when I was a young man I can't remember whether I was in my late teens or early 20s, but there was a cave-in. One of the coal mines in the Western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia coalfields and several minors perished the center shaft metal pipe down into the shaft and they could detect the faint cappings on the shaft indicating that somebody at least had survived the cave-in was left alive down in the underground mine and so the workers frantically want to the business of trying to dig down and rescue anyone who may have survived in one day passed in two days past three days pass in the main new story every day was how much closer were they coming to whoever was trapped. Was there still any tapping on this to were not able to get food or water down to the survivors and so after a few days when they were not able to get to the minors have to be minors. People want to despair. Remember the families huddle around weeping for their lost loved ones and how the rescue operation now turn from a rescue operation to an attempt to simply recover bodies in about two weeks passed until finally they were able to get down to the place in the mind, and they discovered to minors alive on them. His name was fell in the other's name was thrown the joke went the one was thrown in and the other one fell in with SR 9 will never forget the story front page of the Pittsburgh post-Gazette when these minors are say they came out of the mine shaft and they said that they were ministered to by angels while they were underground and the headlines.
Minors say by miracle. That was the word the newspaper chose to describe their rescue minors say by miracle and then in the article later on.
There was a subheading. Minors supper hallucination while trapped underground. They considered it a miracle that they were saying but it must've been a hallucination that they saw an angel really, what is the function of Angel we think usually that the primary and only function of the angel whose word envelopes means messenger is to be someone who announces the tidings of God to various people but later in the New Testament or were told that the primary function of the angel is to minister to the people of God in times of severe crisis.
Luke the historian in just a few sentences into his history introduces the reality of the supernatural and introduces the reality of the intrusion of heaven and earth by these heavenly beings called angels remember the story of Elisha in the Old Testament adult fan when the armies were surrounding his cottage and his servant woke up in the morning, looked out everywhere I look to the east, the West, the North and the South ever surrounded by the soldiers that have been sent out to capture and kill the prophet Elisha. Elisha wasn't the least bit disturbed in the service of my Lord, Elisha surrounded with these chariots of the armies said no more to those that are with us are more than those who are against us, Elisha servant, have you lost your mind. Look at you and me. That's to look outside you will see thousands of Lisa enemy soldier surrounding Elisha began to pray use of Lord open his eyes let him see what I see.
And God opened the eyes of the servant, and behold, myriads of chariots the entire heavenly host roundabouts Elisha and of course the angelic host put the enemy soldiers to route, but Elisha saw through the veil, he saw reality that the servant could not see, but we live in a world that is owned by God and were not the highest creatures in it but the creatures above us of the Angels that are sent by the Lord to minister to us in times of trouble. I remind you that in the New Testament the word on the loss, the word for angel occurs more often than the word for love the word angel occurs in the New Testament more often than the word for sin. So in a numeric sense. At least the New Testament Scriptures speak more about Angels than it does about love and more money as it does about sink. That's an integral part of this book, which is supernatural from beginning to end with Zacharias are just like us is just like those newspaper reporters in Pittsburgh.
But Angel showed up.
He was on his face in her cousin.
His whole life he'd never seen you probably forgot that there even were such things as angels. Even though his name meant the Lord has remembered again. So the angel comes and he gives an astonishing message, a message that will change the course of Zechariah's life of Elizabeth life of Israel's life of our will. Next, the angel appeared to Zacharias, it demonstrated that God was no longer silent. He was going to announce the birth of John the Baptist and as we learned today from Dr. RC Sproul John the Baptist ministry would be critical as he was going to prepare the way for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will learn more about that ministry next week as we continue Dr. scroll sermon series from Luke's gospel, and as you study this gospel account with us here on Renewing Your Mind. We like to send you the ideal companion resource.
It's RC's commentary on Luke. It's based on his sermon series and features pastoral and theological insights on Jesus life and ministry and we like to send you the e-book version for your donation of hitting about the look in her ministries or offices are closed on the Lord's day, so this is an online offer only go to Renewing Your Mind.org to make a request in case you missed any of our recent programs.
We invite you to check out our audio archives on that website again. It's Renewing Your Mind.org letter, Zacharias was informed that his wife would have a baby. He was silenced by the angel, why did that happen and what other lessons can we learn from John the Baptist birth will find out as we continue Dr. RC's full sermon series from the Gospel of Luke next Sunday here on Renewing Your Mind