Saturday, December 19, 2020

How Will I Know?

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In our modern times, one can know the joy of having a prayer answered, but with all odds against them, what extreme joy must have been felt by Zacharias and Elisabeth at the news Gabriel brought to them. They would indeed have a son! Zacharias is an old man by this time, and his wife is “well stricken with years.” It’s beyond human hope that this should be happening to them after a lifetime of prayers, and in their old age.

But as Gabriel told Mary in Luke 1:37, “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.” When it His Word that is being fulfilled, there is no such thing as “Mission Impossible.” God’s plan will always take precedence over ours; His Will will be done, even if ours is set aside, or denied outright. For Zacharias and Elisabeth, the birth of John the Baptist was a lost hope, that is, until God’s orchestration brought people, places, and times together in a unique combination.

If you have been praying for a Godly purpose, do not give up hope. In such cases, God’s answer is “Not yet!” It is not “No.” And even if you don’t see your prayer answered in your lifetime, the future holds as much promise for us as it did for all those patriarchs who died in faith, not having seen the promises (Hebrews 11:4-13) fulfilled during their lives. James 4:1-5 encourages us to not pray for vain things, and 1 John 5:14 declares if we pray according to His will, He hears us, and will fulfill according to His will.

Do not doubt our God and Lord when it comes to His perfect will, and His purpose. His timing may be awkward for us; Elisabeth went and hid herself for five months, and Zacharias lost his voice! But with John’s birth, Elisabeth’s neighbors and cousins saw how the Lord showed great mercy upon her, and they rejoiced with her! Oh, how excellent is His name! And when naming the child John, as prescribed by the Angel Gabriel, Zacharias showed faith restored in God, his voice returned, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit! Truly nothing shall be impossible for God.

“He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.”  Psalm 113:9

Today's Audio Message: "How Will I Know?" - Luke 1:57-80

This morning, we come to a remarkable passage. It’s the story of the birth of John the Baptist. A story that shows us how God kept His promise to provide a messenger who would proclaim the Christ.

The prophecy that God gave through Zacharias is the breaking of 400 years of revelational silence from God, as written in the last few words of Malachi 4:5-6; 
Behold, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD; And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."
This promise was fulfilled in the birth of John the Baptist—as the Lord Jesus told His disciples—was that promised ‘Elijah’ (see Matthew 17:11-13). And now, after 400 years of waiting, we’re told that John is born as “the prophet of the highest” and he will announce the Messiah. God’s promise was made centuries before concerning the forerunner of the promised Messiah;
"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me..."  Malachi 3:1.
John was that messenger from God who would prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. As God Himself said in Isaiah 40:3-5, John was born as …
The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken”  
(Isaiah 40:3-5; see also John 1:19-23).
It was John’s task to announce to mankind, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). And so here, in this passage, we’re told the story of this great man’s entry onto the scene of human history.

At the birth of his son John, Zacharias spoke praise to God, a prophetic message given by the Holy Spirit. Luke tells us;
Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
“Blessed is 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,
Who have been since the world began”
(vv. 67-70).
The first thing that Zacharias gave praise to God for was the Lord Jesus who was yet unborn. For it is Jesus who is the one who has visited and redeemed His people. It is He who is the “horn” (a symbol of kingly power) “of salvation”. He came as the fulfillment of God’s promise that King David would have a Son who would reign upon his throne forever.

The coming of Jesus into this world is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham—back when God called him to Himself in Genesis 12:1-3. Jesus is the promised King of the Jews; and it would be by Him that the Jewish people would be delivered, and restored from their years of disobedience to God, and would be enabled to serve Him.

What good news the coming of Jesus is! What a great role John filled in this world of announcing the coming of this Redeemer! But as great as John was, and as much as we wish to hear more about his growing up and the development of his ministry, the Holy Spirit has seen fit to only tell us just one-verse-worth of information about this great man’s life.  Luke closes this section off with . . .
"So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel ." Luke 1:80
But really, it wouldn’t be necessary for us to know much more than this. The focus should not be on John the Baptist; but rather, on the One that was born into the world to announce. As the apostle John has put it at the beginning of his Gospel;
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.   John 1:6-9
John the Baptist was given by God to be the prophet who bore witness of the Christ. He was only the messenger of the Coming One. He was only the forerunner of the King of kings and Lord of lords. It’s more important that we know the story of Jesus; and it is more than enough for us to know that God kept His promise in giving John to the world to declare Him.

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