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December 11, 2021 3:00 am
The Christmas story centers around the birth of Jesus was born in a stable wrapped in a cloth placed in a manger. Jesus came to be our Savior, but afford to grasp the full impact of Christ's birth. We need to step back into history and today on Truth for Life weekend. Alastair beg examines God's eternal plan through a song from Jesus uncle Zachariah. Our study begins in the first chapter of Luke's gospel. Verse 67, his father Zechariah.
That is the father of John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel because he has, and has redeemed his people.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David as he said through his holy prophets of long ago salvation from our enemies from the hand of all who hate us to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant.
The oath he swore to our father Abraham to rescue us from the hand of our enemies and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days and you my child will be called a prophet of the most high, for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him to give his people, the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace, and the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. Amen. I don't know about you but whenever I go to a new city.
I like to take the bus to her.
I know there is a bus to her in every city but in the major cities. There are usually bus tours. Most recently I did it in San Francisco. I've been there many times but no one would let me take the bus to that is my family said oh no, not the bus to her again and sometimes I've had to go on my own.
This date still memorable occasion when we had flown transatlantic Lee arrived in London early in the morning to the fast train into the city left our bags in the railway station for our onward journey and then by my leadership. I convinced.
Soon the kids that it would be a fantastic thing to take a bus tour of London was probably about 8 o'clock in the morning after the overnight flight and we got on the blast.
It was actually quite sunny. It was summer, and we all got earphones given to as the children were small at the time, and they duly put earphones on, as did Sue and then promptly. We took off and somewhere around the Houses of Parliament as I was exulting in the sight of the Houses of Parliament in the great statue of Winston Churchill.
I turned to see how well the family were enjoying this only to discover who they were all sound asleep, and pretty well Chuck for things some time free or prior to that, and there really were not interested. It was very bad timing on my part and I admit that, but it was poor form on their part, and they have never been prepared to admit that and consequently they have an aversion bus tours, but I I am a great fan of the bar stewards because you get a general layout you get an overall view of the city both geographically and historically, allowing you then when you return to particular places and points of interest to better understand what it is you are seeing and experiencing.
I mention that because in many ways. We need if we are going to come to terms with the Bible to take the bus tour of the Bible, we will find that we benefit far less from select an individual passages of the Bible. If we have not taken the tour.
If we do not have a grasp of the big picture of the overall perspective of the scheme of things that is represented to us in the Bible. So for example we just read this passage. I wonder what did you make in verse 69. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David. If you're not very familiar with the Bible. And even if you are, you might find yourself saying I'm not sure that this is good any possible relevance for me, a tall, or even verse 73. What is this all that he swore to our father Abraham, and whose father is see probably not my father you find yourself saying I'm not sure just what this means. This will give us an indication of what I mean and there's a long introduction to a fairly short study this morning and I would like you for a moment to turn to the end of Luke's gospel to chapter 24 so that we can understand this essential point.
The Old Testament is a story in search all of or in anticipation of an ending.
The Old Testament is anticipating the ending.
And when we read of the event in Luke 24 where Jesus has now risen from the dead, and he meets with a couple of individuals who find their hopes have been dashed. They had been hoping they say to Jesus, not knowing that it is Jesus you see this in verse 21 that we had hoped.
They said to Jesus that he that is Jesus was the one who is going to redeem Israel. It had all these expectations and they had all come to a crashing halt, not realizing that it is the risen Jesus with whom they are speaking and eventually Jesus says to them in verse 25 foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all of the profits of spoken and otherwise have you read your Bible's have you read the Old Testament in the Christ have to suffer these things and then to enter his glory and beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. He gives a mistress gigantic Bible study he takes them back over if you like the high points of the Old Testament story and he explains that the only way you can understand the sounds. The only way you can understand the books of Moses. The only way to understand the prophetic writings is if you see them in relationship to the Messiah and in verse 44. Subsequently, he said to them, this is what I told you while I was still with you. Everything must be fulfilled that was written about me written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the sounds and then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures that I just say in beginning what I want to say at the end and that is simply this, that the Bible makes it clear to us that we cannot understand the Bible unless he opens our mind. No amount of perspiration on my part or pleading on my part or explication on my part will be able to convince anybody from a purely rational perspective from an intellectual perspective of the truth of the Bible come here thinking perhaps that will be the case.
I want you to know that it is impossible I will be able to do it.
I can tell you that you will understand the Bible of God opened your heart shall need to be humble enough to acknowledge that you need God to do that was disputed in the sentence showing at the good news of Jesus is the key to understanding the Bible and when we move from the Old Testament into the new. When we move from the things that are foreshadowed when we think in terms of their fulfillment from the original and the literal on into the person of Jesus. We often discover that, although it is customary for people to talk about believing in the Bible being fulfilled literally when we moved from the Old Testament into the new, we discover that more often than not it is fulfilled. Krista logically rather than literally so, for example, all of the promises concerning the temple and how the temple would be what it would represent finally find their fulfillment. When Jesus says you can destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it again. And in that moment he moves the understanding forward significantly for those who can understand and look uses the Old Testament as a frame of reference for understanding Christ and he introduces us to Christ as the interpretive key for understanding the Old Testament is quite striking when you realize that all the four Gospel writers. Only one of them is a Gentile and it is look in here the Gentile writer does not set aside the emphasis and the central features of the Old Testament story, but rather he brings them to the four we might've expected that he could have said well I am a Gentile and many of the people that will read my gospel will be Gentiles. So why don't I just leave out some of this Hebraic stuff doesn't do so why because we can't really understand Christ without the Old Testament and we can understand the Old Testament without Christ said to you again as well. We cannot really understand Christ without the Old Testament and we can understand the Old Testament without Christ. I just pause and point this out to you. This is why the Christmas story for many people seem so unbelievably trivial, if not horribly sentimental, and if not almost entirely irrelevant because the drop down into the gospel narratives concerning the birth of Jesus without any point of reference at all. And what happens is the people come in at Christmas time and very often the pastor wanting to placate the people because after all it was so nice and they showed up for you and are Sunday out of the year. You don't want to really offend them because there's a chance to get it unity might increase it to do Sundays a year and so you descend to the level of the lowest common denominator and you tell them about the baby in the manger and they they leave with thoughts of camels sticking their head into troughs and all kinds of things and are no further for them when they came in and they just say to one another. What is exactly why I haven't gone for the other 51 weeks. One of the world was that all about.
I understand and I appreciate that entirely. And that's why this is a very long introduction to a very short sermon because I believe that if you get something of this. If you are genuine, honest seeker after truth if you will begin to consider this and apply your heart and mind to it with a humble heart, then you may make great progress and you will be held I think by what my Sunday school teachers taught me and what I've tried to teach the congregation here and reminding ourselves that the Bible is a book about Jesus. And when we take our eyes off Jesus, we lose our way around the Bible so that in the Old Testament. Jesus is predicted in the Gospels, Jesus is revealed in the acts of the apostles Jesus is preached in the epistles. Jesus is explain and in the book of Revelation, Jesus is expected. So in the same way when you come to this song of Zachariah. It is imperative that somebody helps us to stand far enough back from it. To understand why it is that Zachariah sings as he sings, and it is because of all of the history that precedes this song we don't have time to do it all. This morning, but there are number of high points that help us get the picture. For example, if we know anything of the Old Testament. We know that there was a man called Moses and the people were all stuck in Egypt and that somehow or another. This man Moses was used together people out of Egypt and it we've heard something about that. We don't really know how it fits or what it means, but nonetheless they were in bondage in Egypt and the they got out the cross the Red Sea and it was just a wonderful terrific experience with Aristotle. What is the story what is that if is a story of redemption. What possible significance doesn't have we come into the New Testament. And as I will point out to you. It points forward to the wonder of redemption that is provided in Jesus.
The people come out and live in the promised land, but when they get into the promised land. They make a hash of things they disobeyed God they begin to doubt his word. Everything begins to collapse from the inside. God can't tolerate that he has to bring judgment to bear.
He has to execute his love upon his people and so judgment and mercy are interwoven.
The Babylonians come in and snatch them up and take away their sons and daughters and bury the people in exile for a long time and Judy nighttime in exile. The people hang their harps on the on the willow trees and they say, how could we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land. God overseeing the events of history raises up Cyrus the Persian.
He comes in topples the Babylonian Empire in Cyrus begins a program of repatriation and he begins to say to the people of God. You can actually go back up to Jerusalem and you can begin to repair the destruction that is represented there and that is exactly what happens and that's what you find in the story of now, my, and the rebuilding of the walls and so on and in that period of time. The people of God were still looking for the great fulfillment of his promises. In terms of the kingdom and they were thinking and kingdom terms with a real-life king who would overturn the Medo Persian Empire as well, but that didn't happen and what they discovered was that there had been enough of a restoration or reestablishment to realize that God was still in control of their history that he hadn't forgotten none but the word aware of the fact that whatever the film and all of his word to them was it wasn't represented in what they were finding their behind if you like the structure but they didn't have the substance and when you read these, the little books called the minor prophets because they're shorter not because there any less important. Hi guy, Zachariah, and Malachi. Those prophecies are written to the postexilic people of God, reminding them that you still have to look forward God is active in history, but God will come, and you can look forward said the prophets to a brighter day when the rising sun will come to us from heaven, and if you still have your Bible open in front of you. I want you to notice, that is exactly what what is said here in verse 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven, so they were looking forward to that.
But by the fourth century BC it was now the turn for the Greeks, and Alexander the great comes in overturns the Persian Empire and the Jews now live for a long period under the domination of a culture that is still alien to them.
It is Greek, and his religion and his cultural expressions and challenges entirely God's people's trust in God's promise.
You can understand why would be given all of the promises that were represented to them they now find themselves in this period of time in which everything seems to be against everybody believes something different than they do their children go about their business.
Aliens and strangers from the surrounding world and still they hang on to the whole that God will come and redeem his people Israel. Somehow or another. This Messiah will come somehow or another.
This person, this forerunner that is mentioned in Malachi will appear on the stage of history, but he would've said to one another.
How long will it go on like this.
Hence the song we sing come thou Long expected Jesus, hence the Carol come and ransom your Tooth people Israel. That's what they're saying and in 63 BC and it is a turn of the Romans and Pompey comes in vanquishes the situation and once again the people of God, find themselves living as aliens in another province under the jurisdiction of the Roman empire get up in the other serial go to work from home go to bed. The priests of God and the readers of the Old Testament. Satan, the remnant people of God hang on. He is mindful he is merciful. He is mighty and they say to one another is a walking to work why Noyes says that but I can see it. It looks a lot to me like he is forgotten is entirely and then into that darkness a light shines into that shadowland. There is the penetrating impact that is recorded for us here in Luke one as the supernatural breaks into the natural and is the angelic messenger of God comes first. In this way and in speaking both to Mary and to Elizabeth declares that the prophetic expectations are now finding their fulfillment, and it is in that context that Zachariah then responds to the angelic visitation which I need to leave for you to read for yourself and when on the eighth day, the circumcision day of their boy John his tongue is loosed as soon as his tongue is loosed. He sings he blesses God in verse 67 tells us that filled with the Holy Spirit.
He then prophesied and what you have, then, is this declaration of the coming of the Lord's salvation foreshadowed in the birth of John. That's really what this whole song is declaration of the Lord salvation that is foreshadowed in the birth of John the son of Zechariah, it is if you come from an Anglican background what you know from your prayerbook as the Benedictus because in the same way as Magnificat is the first word of the song of Mary and the Latin translation Benedictus is the first word in the Latin translation of the song of Zechariah Benedictus Astro Domino's dance Israelites that is exactly what it is. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel. Now when I grew up trying to understand the Old Testament in light of the new and vice versa. The people are trying to help me did so by way of tying individual verses in the Old Testament individual verses in the New Testament now. There's nothing wrong with that was helpful to me to a point. What I discovered was that a bit like the challenges of algebra and geometry. For me once I got removed from my cheat sheet. I do know where I was so once you got me away from to file our to whatever else you wanted to take me to. I was completely at sea because even to this day I can never remember which is the circumference in which is the area and in the same way I listen to people explaining the New Testament light of the Old Testament. Some of you look at this verse and you look at that verse in verses 11 to make much sense to me and a person is pointing out says to themselves inside their heads ago finally did make much sense to me either and I we got a real problem on our hands because you see the issue is the comprehensive nature of things. It is having a large enough and big enough grasp of what God is doing throughout all of history as it involves both secular history and redemptive history and many points. The two things are fused. Now I want to give you just an outline which will then be the basis for your further study. If you even care to think these things out so that when you take your children and your grandchildren up on your lap.
You're not simply start with the with the trivialities of a sentimental Christmas. Nor are you going to be so profoundly distressing to them that they say grandpa. I am not clue what you're on about whether you're able, just simply to say listen honey this is do you realize all the things that God did in order to to make it possible for Jesus to come to realize how much God controlled in the whole universe to realize how wonderfully in charge. He is of things and you know that this God knows you and made you and made you for a relationship with himself and you know that in Jesus you can know him and meet him. Zachariah seems out of the fullness not only of the spiritual filling, which she enjoys, but out of the fullness of his grasp of the comprehensive purposes, we can have a certain God has orchestrated the events of history listing to Alistair Begg untruthful life weekend will continue this message next week. Alister reminded us today that the good news of Jesus is the key to understanding the Bible and it's that good news that we want to share with listeners not just here in the United States but all around the world. In fact, teaching the Bible in a way that's clear and relevant is our mission Truth for Life. God's word shines a light into the darkness of our world. It transforms unbelievers in the committed followers and helps believers grow deeper in their love and commitment to Jesus would like to help strengthen your faith in God to do that were recommending a book of sermons titled Spurgeon on the power of Scripture. The purpose of this book is to give you a higher, more confident belief in the God of Scripture. Spurgeon likened the Bible to a lion in the cage. He said it doesn't have to be defended. You just let it out of the cage and it defends itself. Find out more about the book. Spurgeon on the power of Scripture. When you visit our website at Truth for Life.I'm Bob Lapine. Be sure to listen again next weekend when Alister concludes the message we heard today by explaining how we make too little of Christmas Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life Learning is for Living