Share This Episode
Wisdom for the Heart Dr. Stephen Davey Logo

Anticipation!

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
May 24, 2021 12:00 am

Anticipation!

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1324 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.


May 24, 2021 12:00 am

The Christmas story is full of singing. From Mary to Zechariah, to the angels themselves, songs and hymns of praise echo throughout heaven, heralding the coming of the Messiah on earth. Today, let's explore the meaning and impact of one of these songs. What caused a lowly, faithful priest to explode into heavenly, prophetic singing? Join us today to discover Zechariah's song.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Summit Life
J.D. Greear
Summit Life
J.D. Greear
Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer
Beacon Baptist
Gregory N. Barkman
A New Beginning
Greg Laurie

Isn't this a bleak yet very realistic description of the human race throughout human history, living in darkness and despair, facing inevitable death and judgment, unable to seize, to hold on to any kind of inner peace and satisfaction. The world is being described here in this song, very realistically, darkness, death, and despair.

That's it. But the sunrise is about to burn. From Mary to Zechariah, to the angels themselves, songs and hymns of praise echo throughout heaven. Music heralds the coming of the Messiah on earth, and today we're going to explore the meaning and impact of one of those songs. What caused a lowly, faithful priest to burst forth in heavenly, prophetic singing? Well, stay with us as Stephen Davey explores Zechariah's song, here on Wisdom for the Heart.

We're in a series called Good News of Great Joy, and it comes from Luke 1 through 3. If I could take you back in time to some rather difficult days for a rather aged, and for the most part, many thought, finished composer. He'd recently suffered a stroke. His health was broken by an anxious and difficult season.

The stroke had paralyzed the left side of his face, causing intense pain. And one night in 1741, he was rather depressed. He couldn't sleep.

He went out on the streets around his neighborhood just walking. He eventually, rather frustrated, returned to his home where an envelope had been dropped off by a friend. The friend had wanted to encourage him and had simply copied off a number of texts of scripture and just stuffed him in the envelope.

He read through them, somewhat disinterested, then tossed them aside and crawled into bed, but couldn't sleep. Some of the phrases he'd read kept coming back to his mind, like, the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. George Handel got up from bed and went to his piano, and for the next 24 days, without stopping, composed, stringing one of those passages after another.

Hardly stopping to eat or sleep, refusing any company, until finally a friend managed, at the end of 24 days, to get inside the apartment where he found George just wrapping it up, surrounded by sheets of music everywhere on the piano, the bench, the floor around him, 53 movements in all. And when the friend walked in, there were tears coursing down the cheeks of George Handel, who looked up at his friend and said, and I quote, I do believe I have seen the greatness of God. And his composition, we know as the Hallelujah Chorus, or the Messiah, was completed. And I thought about that because as I'm studying this scene before us in Luke's Gospel, mindful of the fact that for 400 years in Israel's history, there has been really nothing to sing about. The days have grown dark, despairing, following the prophecy of Malachi.

Between Malachi and the opening of the Gospel account, there has been no word from God, no prophet from God, no music composed by the people of God. It's been what we call now the 400 years of silence. But then the most amazing things begin to happen.

We've begun exploring them together. Angel sightings, supernatural events, mystifying conceptions, surprising joy, and music is being composed again. And frankly from the most unlikely places.

In one village overrun by a garrison of Roman soldiers, renowned in that area was Nazareth for its immorality. And yet you have a teenage girl who's composing a song rich with Old Testament passages she had evidently memorized. And she sings of God her Savior in relation to her virgin conception. In fact, as Luke's Gospel opens, just in the first two chapters, you have one song after another, as many as five. I mean the music has begun once again.

And the theme running throughout them all is one of joy. I like to think of it as the chorus of the Hallelujahs is being heard again throughout the land. Following Mary's song, there's this old priest well past his prime.

We've been introduced to already. He's had a surprising visit from Gabriel, his elderly wife in her late 70s or early 80s, as we put the clues together, is expecting they live out in the country once again. God in his sovereign plan is just sort of bypassing all the movers and shakers of the world, past the religious pomp and ceremony, and to a young girl in Nazareth, to an old priest out in the country delivering the news of the coming Messiah. And he's going to compose a song of his own, and that's where we're going to pick up our storyline, the narrative. So if you go back to Luke's Gospel in chapter one, it's 80 verses long, by the way. I mean this could take a long time, but we're getting through it in just three sermons.

As I've said, this is your Christmas miracle. So we're at chapter one, now at verse 57, if you'll look there. And we go now to the home of Elizabeth, the elderly wife of Zechariah. Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.

I mean, they're saying, Hallelujah, too. And on the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child. This was customary according to the law. This is the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant, the mark of a Jewish male, special sign to the Israelite nation. This is going to give John, the baby, the necessary credentials as an Israelite prophet. And we're told here that everybody's shown up for this ceremony, this time of celebration, which traditionally included on this eighth day the naming of the boy. And it's customary, I'll tell you at a time, to name a son after his father or grandfather, especially in the nation, especially if this was a highly esteemed father or had a highly esteemed grandfather, maybe a priest or a rabbi.

And who would have been more highly esteemed than a faithful priest of many decades who happened to have an angel visit him while in the holy place, burning incense to God, that the Messiah's on his way? So if anybody's going to be named after the father, it's going to be this boy. I mean, this boy is destined. He's going to be Zachariah, Jr., right?

In fact, notice the family drama that's going to break out. If you have your Bibles at verse 59, it tells us that they, that is all of the neighbors and all of the relatives who've gathered, they would have called him Zachariah after his father, Zachariah, Jr. But his mother answered, no, he shall be called John. And they said to her, none of your relatives is called by this name. That's the biblical way of saying, are you crazy?

Are you out of your mind? Nobody's in your family named John. Where'd John come from?

There's nothing in John that even sounds like Zachariah. The neighbors, they're in an uproar. The family.

I have to wonder, who gave the neighbors the right to vote here? But they're all gathered around Elizabeth. I see her uncles, aunts, Uncle Henry, Aunt Myrtle, all the cousins. It's got to be Zachariah. She said, no, it's John.

She's refusing to budge. And Zachariah, remember, he can't speak. I don't know what he's doing. He's probably hiding, but he can't talk yet.

In fact, he can't hear because of the disciplining hand of God for his earlier unbelief. So here's Elizabeth absolutely outnumbered and unmoved. I mean, this is a firecracker of a woman here. In spite of the entire family, you're not going to tangle with me even though I'm an 80-year-old new mother. Love this. Love this woman.

Why? She's learned earlier, evidently, obviously. Her husband probably wrote it all out for her over the course of these nine months. Gabriel arrived. Gabriel said, God has chosen the name, and the name is John. John means God is gracious. This is a message to the nation. His ministry isn't just going to be a message of repentance, but it's going to be a message that God hasn't kicked you to the curb.

God is a God of grace. Get ready for the Messiah. But they're convinced that she has stepped out of line here, and we know that because of what they do next. Verse 62, they go to Zechariah. Notice, and they made signs to the father, his father.

Remember, he can't speak or hear. So they're making signs, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. So obviously, Elizabeth wants him to be named John. This doesn't even fit. It doesn't rhyme with anything in the family name.

So obviously, she's out of line. So now, sir, what should he be named? And, notice, he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, his name is John.

It's already settled. And with that statement by Zechariah of obedience and humility, God reopens his mouth, his ears, and immediately begins to speak. The narrative doesn't include all the details, but with what happens next, it's obvious that he lays it all out. It talks about Gabriel.

I'm in the holy place. He just goes through the whole wonderful narrative of what had happened. And I love what happens next. Verse 65, it reads, and fear came on all their neighbors. Don't you love that?

That's the last time they're ever going to try to name somebody else's baby. Fear fell on them all. Well, actually, the word is translated awestruck. Awestruck.

You could add the word wonder. They're filled with a sense of awe, as Zechariah, no doubt, tells them all that has happened. They're filled with awe. They are, we would say, completely blown away. Their minds are blown with this account of Zechariah's encounter with Gabriel. This supernatural work where this late 70s, early 80s, your old woman conceives, and these two have a baby.

Let me tell you, they're completely wiped out. Messianic music now is also going to be heard from this home because Zechariah has been composing his own song, his own Hallelujah chorus. It's loaded with Old Testament passages and allusions.

Some scholars believe it contains at least 33 allusions to the Old Testament text. And he begins to sing. Now, that singing would sound more like chanting in that rabbinical or priestly style. This is his chanting these Spirit-inspired lyrics.

Now, I want to look at it with you rather quickly. There are several stanzas in this composition, depending on how the hymn is outlined. I'm going to break it down into three stanzas, not four, because if it were four, we'd have to skip the third stanza. You only sing the first, second, and fourth in the church, right?

So only three here for us to look at. We'll call the first stanza the prophecy of Zechariah about God's salvation. Verse 68.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant the oath that he swore to our father Abraham to grant us that we being delivered from the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. That's one sentence. How's that for a stanza?

I don't know when Zechariah breathed. Here he is chanting this incredibly loaded stanza. And by the way, you might have noticed, you might circle in your text if you go back to the first few lines that he's singing about events as if they are already past tense. Notice he has visited us. He hadn't been born yet. He has redeemed us. He has raised up a horn of salvation.

These are called prophetic past tense verbs. He's singing about the future as if it's already happened, as if it's already in the history books. It's as good as done. That's the idea. It's as good as done.

It's guaranteed. So I'm going to sing about it as if it's already happened. Now in stanza number two, you'll notice Zechariah turns his attention directly to his newborn son and sings to him.

What a tender moment this is. This is the prophecy of Zechariah about the ministry of his son. Notice verse 76.

And you child will be called the prophet of the most high for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways to give knowledge of salvation to his people and the forgiveness of their sins because of the tender mercy of our God. Now, you know, let's just not race through it. Think about it.

You imagine this scene. There hadn't been a prophet for 400 years. And now Zechariah is holding the next one. Man, not a word from God until these days. He's holding a prophet, the prophet of God. He sings directly to him. And you child, you're going to be the prophet of the most high. You, you son, you're going to prepare the way for the one to come. I can't help but believe that Zechariah is interrupting this stanza with tears of joy, of amazement. Elizabeth too. Maybe even some of those nosy neighbors.

This is quite a scene. Now, as ministry has described, you notice here is one of preparing the way that expression is rooted in history where good roads. He's talking about preparing the road. Good roads weren't the norm. Most roads were simply tracks across fields. Dirt roads turned to mud leading into towns and through towns, carts and their wheels often mired down and stuck. However, if a king were traveling to a town, if royalty was on its way, they would all spring into action and they would level that track.

They would drain it. They would even raise it and pave it with stone pavers for that royal carriage. In fact, early in the Roman Empire, those raised roads that were paved with stone pavers were higher than the byways or the bridleways, they called it. They were called the highways. They were calling them highways long before we were calling them highways.

That allowed for easy, clean access. We take it for granted today. We get a little frustrated when it isn't perfectly paved or they haven't widened Holly Springs or Tryon or some of those critical arteries. By the way, they're just a mile from my home.

I can drive by and see where they've leveled it, they've cleared it. They're putting on a portion of Interstate 540, that loop, which is going to be absolutely fantastic if they finish it before the Rapture. I'd like them to so I could enjoy a little bit of it, but I'm going to be able to hop on it right there and not in 30 minutes, but in 15 minutes, I'm going to be able to swing up and around to that airport exit. They're going to take me 30 minutes. It's going to take me 15 minutes to take that exit, turn left, and pull into Cracker Barrel. I mean, that's going to be fantastic.

15 minutes. Nothing like a good road. Think about John being in construction. He's into spiritual road construction. He's preparing the road, as it were, for the king is on his way. John is going to build a highway with his preaching for the Messiah to effectively ride into the heart of the one who will believe. He's going to pave it.

Repent. He's coming. Get it ready. And then he announces it's coming. With that in mind, Zachariah's final stanza describes this Messiah's ministry. Notice verse 78, the prophecy of Zachariah about the coming sunrise. The sunrise. I love that expression of the Messiah.

Circle that. The sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death to guide our feet into the way of peace. So what will the Savior do? What will the Messiah do? He's going to release those captured in darkness. He's going to rescue those facing inevitable death and judgment.

He's going to give inner peace to those who have none. Isn't this a bleak yet very realistic description of the human race throughout human history? Living in darkness and despair, facing inevitable death and judgment, unable to seize to hold on to any kind of inner peace and satisfaction. The world is being described here in this song very realistically. Darkness, death and despair.

That's it. But the sunrise is about to break into this despairing world. The sunrise from on high is on his way. By the way, you can take that notation of light through the Bible.

I'll give you just a couple of references. 2 Peter 1.19 where the Apostle Peter wrote that Jesus Christ was like the day dawning and rising in our heart. It's a great expression. John in Revelation 22.16 called him the bright and morning what? Star.

We're very familiar with that one. In Colossians 1.13, salvation is described as being rescued from the power of darkness and being brought into the kingdom of his beloved son. Rescued from the kingdom of darkness, brought into the kingdom of light. And then our mission as believers is to do what? To declare the praises of him who has called us out of darkness and into this marvelous light. 1 Peter 2.9. And then we as believers, the redeemed are given the promise that in the end, in the consummation, in the eternal state of heaven, that we the redeemed will actually shine with the brilliant light like the sun. Matthew 13.43. John's gospel, of course, opens by giving us the three reactions to the dawning of the sun.

The same three reactions that are taking place today in our world around us. There are those who won't recognize him. He wouldn't recognize who he was. Get off the highway. Get on the byway.

Get on the dirt path. You're not royalty. We've never seen God, but if we did, you wouldn't be it. You're the son of a carpenter, born in fornication. There are those to this day who will reject him.

John writes, he came into his own, but his own did not receive him. So go out there in the world today and ask people, hey, would you like to live forever? Yeah, man, I would. Sign me up.

How do I do it? Ask them if they'd like to live without sickness and pain and sorrow, and they'd say yes. Ask them if they'd like to live in a beautiful paradise, and most religions have figured out a way to get there, and they'd say, well, absolutely, I want to live in a beautiful paradise forever.

And ask them, would you be willing to follow Jesus? What? No. I want all that, other stuff, but I don't want him.

If he's part of the deal, never mind. Rejecting the sunrise. But then there are those, thirdly, who recognize him for who he is, instead of rejecting him, receive him. And John writes in verse 12 of that chapter, and those who do are given the right to become children of God, not freed from the kingdom of darkness, brought into the kingdom of light. So, beloved, we have every reason to keep singing. Hallelujah. George Handel would take this song of prophecy from Zechariah, Isaiah, these other passages, and turn it into music. This passage right here, describing the ministry of the Messiah, he would turn into song, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light.

The sun is rising. No wonder the redeemed sin. Hallelujah. I hope this time in God's Word has encouraged you today as we've explored Zechariah's song from the Gospel of Luke. It's Stephen's desire to help you grow in your faith and learn to apply God's Word to your life.

Here's how one listener described it. I've been listening to Wisdom for the Heart since 2015, and I receive your magazine every month. The Gospel is made clear through the preaching of Pastor Davey, and I'm amazed at the peace that fills my mind as the program goes off and my day begins.

That came from Thomas in my home state of Michigan. By the way, the magazine that Thomas mentioned is a resource that we send as a gift to all of our Wisdom partners. We'd be happy to send you the next three issues for you to read and enjoy. Our number is 866-48-BIBLE or 866-482-4253. Thanks again for joining us. Please make plans to be back next time on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-15 01:32:11 / 2023-11-15 01:41:09 / 9

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime