When Zacharias learned that he was going to be a father, the angel told him several things about his son's life.
I want you to notice what Gabriel does not say about John. He does not say, and he will be great in the sight of his religious world. He will be great in the sight of his religious leaders. He will be great in the sight of his peers.
No. He may be great in the sight of the Lord, but he's going to be irritating and strange in the sight of the locals. Have you ever felt God was calling you to do something when the odds of success seemed stacked against you? Has God ever asked you to do something that simply seemed impossible? The story of Zacharias and his son John is a wonderful reminder that nothing is impossible for God. God calls us to walk by faith and not by sight. When we do, God will accomplish His work in us and through us, to the amazement of those who might be watching.
This is Wisdom for the Heart. Today, Stephen Davey has a message for you called, The Day That Changed Everything. For every one of us, we tend to measure life a number of different ways, don't we? We measure it probably first and foremost by years.
If someone says to you, well, why don't you tell me about yourself? More than likely, we're going to say, well, I'm 29 or 35 or 39 or some set of fibs along that line as we introduce ourselves. Or I just turned 16, or I'm going to be. Another way to mark our lives is by key dates, like wedding anniversaries would be right there at the top of the list if you're married. I was married on July 11, 1981. We're on our 30th year of marriage. I wonder how many couples, I've done this each hour, how many couples have been married longer than 30 years?
Let me see your hands. Okay, how about 40 years? All right, 50 years? Okay, 60 years? All right, 65 years? 70 years?
Okay, so somewhere between 67 and, anybody else? Wow, I'm not even halfway there. Congratulations, sir.
That's wonderful. I wonder, how many of you have been married less than five years? Let me see your hands. All right, all over. All right, four years, less than four years? Okay, less than three years? All right, two years? All right, one year? How many months?
You can go and ask her. I'm sorry? Is that right, sir? A little over six months. Congratulations there.
Now you've got an example of getting 60. Oh, did I miss somebody? I'm sorry. Over here, how many months? Yes, ma'am, you tell me.
Okay, all right, second place, runner up. Did I miss somebody? Okay, yes, sir? Five months? Wow, anybody?
Am I missing anybody? Over here. How many months for you? Three months. Yes, ma'am.
How many? Okay, all right, I think three months. Oh, no, no, over here. My wife's waving at me and I know it's not to say hi.
What a show off, I tell you what. Good, good man. All right, just don't forget, you know, when you get up to 65 years, 66 years, that's wonderful. I think those of us who are married measure obviously life before and after that event. Other people measure their lives, and I think we all do, by accomplishments. Maybe you can remember getting your driver's license, graduating from college or graduate school. For you, life was before that moment and life began after that moment.
Maybe some other accomplishment. I know some golfers whose lives are everything was before that hole in one and after that hole in one. Another way we measure our lives is by critical decisions. Maybe you can remember when you took that job.
Maybe you can remember when you moved here to the Cary area from New York, like 60% of you did, right? You can remember maybe stepping down from that job or maybe entering retirement. Hopefully, among the list of your critical decisions is the decision to accept Jesus Christ and his gospel for yourself, right?
That would be the top decision I have with me. In fact, I brought along, I usually keep this in my pickup truck. I had lost track of this little New Testament for many years. I can remember trusting Christ and giving my life to him when I was in my junior year, ending my junior year of high school. Then I came across this little Bible now that I keep with me.
Inside the flyleaf, in pencil, sort of fading, are the words, Conversion, May 18th, 1975. This, of course, for me is significant because my life before and after is now marked forever by that decision. Some of you remember and think about your life in terms of maybe a vocation you chose or a military stint that you did, maybe deciding for years to enter a mission field.
Maybe you took a trip and you came back and decided, as we've had several families leaving our church, to go over. You'll remember forever when that plane touched down. Life was different before that moment and it changed forever after that moment. Those are those defining moments. They mark us, don't they?
They stay with us. They say a lot about us as we relate them to other people and how we communicate about those events. I think all of us tend to mark our lives as well by significant trials, what we would call personal tragedies. Maybe you think of life as, well, you know, 10 years ago this month my child passed away. Or maybe it was four years ago today I filed for bankruptcy. Or maybe it's seven years ago this month we lost everything in that hurricane.
Perhaps it's like this, well, four years ago we got that diagnosis from the doctor. And life was one way until that moment and then it changed. Truthfully, I think all of us measure our lives by a combination of all the above, don't we? Decisions, ministry involvement, when we trusted Christ, major events in life, anniversaries, perhaps even graduations and certainly trials. They mark us.
They're defining moments in our lives. Well, if you've been with us last Lord's Day and for this month we have been looking at a defining moment which will change life forever for an old faithful priest, Zacharias. We're in the gospel of Luke and chapter one. And on this particular day that we looked at last Lord's Day and began our exposition through this chapter, he realized as he was in there offering his frankincense, that liquid perfume upon the coals of that altar of incense, that when that billowing perfume smoke went away he recognized in that holy place that he was no longer alone. He was looking into the face of an angel.
In chapter one we'll identify this angel as Gabriel. There has been 400 years of silence. There's been no word from God. There have been no angel sightings. The nation in their disobedience have not been able to hear or have heard from God. The prophet Malachi, when he put down his quill, that was it, until this angel appears and Zacharias, we're told, was literally terrified.
He's petrified. So Gabriel begins his message by saying what angels typically do say to human beings, stop being afraid. Now Gabriel has already appeared 500 years earlier to a prophet named Daniel. You may remember that encounter if you've studied the book of Daniel. And Daniel said, as a result of meeting Gabriel, it took my strength away and I literally fell down to the ground. Daniel, fortunately for us, describes Gabriel, which now Zacharias sees. Luke does not describe him.
So just as an overview, not turning there, let me just give you that description. Daniel described Gabriel as wearing a linen robe, which was significant because the high priest wore a linen robe as he entered the holy of holies that signified access to God. Gabriel informs Zacharias that he indeed stands in the presence of God. Gabriel is also described as wearing this belt made of solid gold, which no doubt reflected light from the candles burning in the holy place wherever he turned. Gabriel's face is described by Daniel as having an appearance as of lightning.
In other words, it's brilliant. And so no doubt, Daniel and Zacharias are looking at him like this, hard to concentrate or gaze upon someone so brilliantly as it were lit up. The eyes of Gabriel are described by Daniel as red coals burning, glowing red as if they are on fire.
That will only get your attention. And then as his arms and feet are described as polished bronze, his voice is described as a low rumble. You can now imagine why Daniel fell to the ground and why Zacharias is in there in the holy place all by himself, apart from the angel, trembling, petrified, overcome with fear. By the way, I was at the sight of only one angel. Gabriel is just one angel. Job chapter 38 informs us that the millions of angels were created, these angels were created before the creation of the world. They sang in fact together, according to Job 38, they sang together as God the Son, the Word spoke. Colossians tells us he was the creating agent among the triune God and the universe was created and they all sang while he spoke.
He, the logos, the Word of God. At that time, of course, all the angels were good. Sometime before or just after creation, the highest ranking among these created beings, Lucifer, his name, led an army of angels in a palace coup d'etat against the very throne of God.
They were judged and they fell from their high and privileged estate. And we in the New Testament era refer to these beings more often than not as demons. They're confirmed in their unholy rebellion and ever since then, they've been growing in their rebellion. They do everything possible to thwart the purposes of God and defeat the work of God and diminish the worship of God and they know full well they're moving ever closer to the ultimate and final wrath and judgment of God. In fact, when a demonized person met the Lord during the Lord's ministry most often they said, we know who you are if you come to torment us before it's time.
They know it's coming but they so hate him and they hate his people. They're not only under the thumb of our sovereign Lord, they're vastly outnumbered. In fact, when John the apostle took that tour of heaven described for us in the book of Revelation, he sees this mind boggling sight of at least 100 million angels worshiping before the throne of God.
Gabriel is just one of them. And now he's just come from the throne of God, the presence of God to deliver a message to Zacharias, this faithful 80 year old priest. Let's go back to verse 13 of Luke 1, the angel said to him, don't be afraid Zacharias for your petition has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, you'll give him the name John and you will have joy and gladness and many will rejoice at his birth. Now I want you to notice as Gabriel reveals to us the character and the career of John, we know him as John the baptizer or John the Baptist. And I want you to be aware of three ingredients of his character that we'll look at first. We'll call the first one dedication. Just the first phrase of verse 15 says, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.
The word great is the word megas which gives us our English transliterated word mega, big, great, stupendous. John is going to be greatly significant in the sight of the Lord that speaks not only to the depth of his character and his commitment but it also speaks to the greatness of his role as the forerunner of the Messiah. I mean what a great, what a commendable ministry occupied uniquely by this one person in redemptive history.
I want you to notice what Gabriel does not say about John. He does not say and he will be great in the sight of his religious world. He doesn't say he will be great in the sight of his religious leaders. He will be great in the sight of his peers.
No. They're not going to care for him, most of them one iota. They're not going to be all that excited about this prophet, the first one they've heard from in 400 years who arrives unannounced, no sanction from the rabbis or the religious leadership. He just starts preaching repentance. He even claims the religious leaders need to repent. That's a popular message. Camel hair for his clothing, austerity in his bearing, wild honey and locusts as the staple of his diet which means he lived in the wilderness, thundering in his voice as he calls this nation back to repentance.
That's not a popular message. He may be great in the sight of the Lord but he's going to be irritating and strange in the sight of the locals but he will be wholly devoted to the Lord. Secondly, the character of John will be marked not only by devotion but dedication but separation. Verse 15 again, just that next phrase, he'll drink no wine or liquor, sometimes translated perhaps in your Bibles with the word beer. In other words, he's not going to drink strong drink. He's going to live a life separated under God. He's not going to drink strong drink which would be equivalent to that drink in our culture.
Why? Well, some believe it's because John is being raised as a Nazarite. He's fulfilling a Nazarite vow so to speak but there's nothing in the gospel accounts that speak of him not cutting his hair which would be another indication of a Nazarite vow and I along with others don't believe that he is being raised as a Nazarite. I believe John is not going to drink strong drink simply because he's functioning effectively as a priest like his father Zacharias and according to Old Testament requirements, a priest was never allowed to drink strong drink while on duty, Leviticus chapter 10. And even after that, never to become intoxicated. And John the Baptist, and by the way, I think it's an interesting conception or thought, like every Christian today who is, according to 1 Peter 2, a royal priest is never off duty, never off duty. In fact, the Apostle John will say, don't be under the influence of wine, don't be intoxicated, but be dominated by the Holy Spirit.
In other words, don't let your mind be controlled by an intoxicating substance, let your mind be controlled by the indwelling spirit. And that leads me to the third ingredient of John's character. The character of John will be defined not only by dedication and separation but by consecration. Notice the last phrase or part of verse 15.
This is startling. And he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb. This filling was prenatal. The text does not mean, as liberals want to come along and try to torture it to mean, that John is going to be indwelt with the Spirit from birth, even from birth, because they don't like the implications of what it might mean, obviously. One expositor wrote it this way, such a total invasion by the Holy Spirit of God is unprecedented in Old Testament times, certainly in the womb in any dispensation. What's happening here is this, John's prenatal filling was prophetic, a picture of the filling of the Holy Spirit that will become the hallmark of all who are born again in Christ. At that moment, when you have, by virtue of your faith, trusted in Christ, life begins. At the moment of that conception of life, you get the Holy Spirit.
You don't have to wait six months, ten months, two years, grow up, get more mature, and then maybe you get them. You got them at the conception of your spiritual life, which then, by the way, becomes unbelievably significant in its revelation of our understanding of a pre-born child. Pre-born child is not some appendage. The angel doesn't refer to pre-born John as an it or a thing. In fact, notice the personal pronouns Gabriel refers to the pre-born baby as he. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb.
Imagine the truth of this. This is not fetal tissue. This is a living person at that conception immediately wrapped inside that body, that embryo, is an eternal soul, a soul capable of being inhabited and dwelled by the Spirit of God. Now, with that angelic introduction of his character, Gabriel refers to his career. His career is going to impact three different elements within society. Let me point them out to you.
First of all, his career will impact the disconnected. Verse 16, note there, and he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. You might circle the word turn. It's going to show up in verse 16, and then it's going to show up in verse 17. It means to convert.
It means to turn around, and it also has the nuance of meaning to cause a return, to come back. John's preaching is going to call the nation to come back to their covenant-keeping God. Now, notice verse 16. He will turn, cause a return among many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God, verse 17. It is he who will go as a forerunner.
They've amplified that to simply describe the word before. It is he who will go as a forerunner before him, the one we know as the Messiah, in the spirit and power of Elijah. Now, what he's doing is quoting Malachi, the last prophet to have appeared and written. Malachi, the prophet, effectively said in his closing words that the coming Messiah would be preceded by the coming of Elijah. And then you have the silence of God descending upon the people, the nation, for more than 400 years.
But then the first prophet to appear on the scene does so. It's this little boy, now all grown up. His name is John. He's a direct descendant on his mother's side to Aaron, the high priest. He has come to introduce the descendant on his mother's side to King David. So you have, effectively, the high priest introducing the king. You have the high priest introducing the final sacrifice.
Wonderful illustrations in these two cousins' lives and lineage. And the ministry of John will fulfill the promise of Malachi. In fact, it even mirrors his ministry as Elijah stood alone. Elijah fearlessly condemned the religious world. Elijah fearlessly challenged the nation, preaching to them repentance.
In other words, he told everybody, you're going this way. You need to turn around. You're going in the wrong direction and you need to go back this way to God. Become reconnected in obedience and repentance to God. Secondly, John's career will not only impact the disconnected, but the disinterested.
Look at the middle part of verse 17. And here's the next reference to turning or returning. He will turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children. John's ministry will so impact the hearts of people that it would revolutionize the way they live inside the home. Fathers will be turned around so that they will, once again, care about their family. Because when a man is unconverted, when a man is pagan, when a man is rebellious, guess what he doesn't care about? His family. But when that man's heart is turned around by repenting to God, his heart goes to his home. He cares about his children and his family. So John's ministry will so impact the hearts of people that it's going to revolutionize the way they live in their homes.
Regenerated hearts, you could principalize it this way, will redefine relationships. Fathers are going to come alongside mothers in caring for the development and growth of their children. Listen, this truth is still alive and well. That's the kind of impact the gospel has, even to this day. You go to a culture that has not been saturated or even built upon the foundational truths of the gospel or the word of God, and you will find a culture where children do not matter. And by the way, women don't either. They are chattel.
They're beasts of burden. You go outside the Western world, predominantly influenced, of course, by centuries of the gospel, and you find polygamy is rampant. Adultery, in fact, is sanctioned for men only.
If you're a woman and you do that, you get stoned to death. Women are the sole responsibility of the mother, and don't let them get in the way of the father. But you get inside a culture impacted by the gospel, and you'll discover, among many things, the value of a woman is dramatically increased. She is honored and respected and valued, and the goal of a man is to faithfully love that woman that God has allowed into his life and to care for the children that are viewed as gifts from God and not chattel. Faithful monogamy then becomes the ideal of that kind of culture, and everything else is discouraged. And so in our culture, by the way, and I'm sure you're way ahead of me, where the Bible is being set aside, women are becoming things again, children unwanted, as men simply have their way. The gospel comes along, and men repent, and their hearts effectively go back home.
I need to jump in right here. This lesson isn't finished, but we're almost out of time for today. We need to stop here and then conclude this message on our next broadcast. You're listening to Wisdom for the Heart with Steven Davie. Steven is the president of Wisdom International. We're in a series called Christmas Cousins, and Steven entitled today's lesson, The Day That Changed Everything. If you'd like to access any of our other resources, please visit wisdomonline.org. Visit wisdomonline.org today, then join us back here next time for more Wisdom for the Heart. You're listening to Wisdom for the Heart, and Steven entitled today's lesson, The Day
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-06 00:16:19 / 2023-12-06 00:25:32 / 9