Advent Week 2, December 6, 2015
Why We Need Passages Like These
Matthew 10:16; Luke 10:3 “I send you out like sheep in the midst of wolves…”
We need the assurance that Father is faithful and will do good to and for us as we are engaging the conflict to bring all things back under the rule of Christ as ambassadors of Christ.
A Look Through Luke’s Purpose
Luke 1:1-4 “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”
- Luke, possibly a Gentile writing to a Gentile or a Hellenized Jew writing to a Gentile, for the purpose of them growing in their certainty that God has done what you have been told and the message you have believed is real.
- We need to interpret everything in Luke through the lens of growing our certainty about Jesus.
- Don’t miss the point of the text this morning…
Our text is preceded by 1:57-66, which sets the stage for us.
Verse 66 sets up our text with the question: “What then will this child be?” in response to Zechariah’s worship of the Lord when he loosed his mouth to speak.
What will John be? The text today answers that question by
- Giving us a banner of a call to worship over the text,
- Reminding us of Father’s faithfulness leading us to hope
- Telling us about Father’s faithfulness in fulfilling his promise to send one to prepare the way for the King.
It’s real easy to miss the forest for the trees in this text. If one gets caught up in unpacking the Davidic and Abrahamic Covenants here they miss the whole point.
There is a place to understand those covenants, but that’s not Zechariah’s intention, and it’s not Luke’s intention in recording Zechariah’s words for us.
We want to receive greater certainty of Jesus and Father’s good toward us.
The Banner Over the Text: Father is Worthy of Worship Because He has been Faithful 1:67-68
The banner over Zechariah’s prophetic (forth-telling not fore-telling) words is that the Lord is to be worshiped because he is faithful.
The rest of the text proclaims to us how he has been faithful.
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people…”
Some helpful insights from this banner sitting over the text:
- The glory of God is our aim!
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel…”
- Worship is more than the song.
- Worship is the life completely submitted to his rule over us. We call it “Radical Life”. Up/In/Out
- This “Radical Life” will lead to song because people walking with Jesus, with each other and colliding with the world system, sing.
- We are to remember God’s faithfulness so as to lead us to worship him.
“…for he has visited and redeemed his people…”
- We are to remember the providential faithfulness of our Father “visited” and “redeemed” are a in a past tense (aorist – undefined action in the undefined past), meaning that they are to remember NOT that he is now acting BUT that he has been acting already.
– Events are never random in God’s kingdom
– Father has been weaving together history for the good of his people already
– Our experience is in the present, but what we remember is
that the present manifestation of Father’s work has long been
in the works!
– Psalm 105:16-17 “When he summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread, he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.”
Salvation Has Come from David’s Line Just As Promised v. 69-72
“…and he 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,…”
Luke, being a follower of Jesus and now a man of the Scriptures draws on passages like Ezekiel 37:24-28 as the promise of God to show Theophilus that now in Christ, Father has been faithful.
Though not the main thrust of the text, take a quick glimpse at one of the promises from the prophet Ezekiel in 37:24-28…
““My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”
Remember, however, Jesus has not come yet. These words are from Zechariah, John the Baptist’s dad. Zechariah is worshiping the Lord for giving his son as the forerunner for the one these words are all really speaking of.
Again, Zechariah uses an undefined past tense in “raised” and “to show the mercy”.
What is the Spirit’s point in having Zechariah say this and Luke record it? What is the point of speaking of a future even in the past tense?
- Father has already kept his word although Zechariah’s son had yet to point to it in the person of Jesus!
- We see glimpses of such faithfulness in Genesis 22:14 Yahweh Yireh, the God who sees. The God who sees is the God we say PRO-VIDES (Latin root Providere; pro – before; videre – to see; to foresee, to attend to). His seeing is his supplying! His foreknowing is his foreordaining. His knowing is his attending to it!
- John’s job is simply to point out what has already been done! This is precisely Zechariah’s point. That’s why he points this truth out before he speaks about his son.
- Jesus has come. And he is coming again. It’s a done deal.
- We have great hope and therefore we can cease striving and know that he is God and that he will be exalted among the nations (Psalm 46:10).
Father’s People Given Mercy, Deliverance, Made Able to Serve the King without Fear, Made Holy and Right as Promised to Abraham v. 72-75
“…to show the mercy (past) promised to our fathers and to remember (past) his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to (past) our father Abraham, to grant (past) us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies might serve (present reality due to covenant faithfulness) him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.”
You can see the Lord’s plan in passages like Genesis 22:16-18 and 26:3-5.
The same point from above applies here, it’s just a different example in Abraham. He is the God who is faithful so much that what is yet to come is as good as done.
- Father already has shown mercy
- Father already has remembered and kept his promise he swore to Abraham
- Father already has granted us deliverance from our enemies because they can’t truly harm us
- We can currently serve the kingdom fearlessly because Father has been faithful already even if our eyes have yet to lay hold of it.
Father Sends The Promised Forerunner v. 76-79
“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 in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby 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.”
We can see this plan of the Lord in passages like Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1.
Just to top it all off, the Father will send the forerunner so that none of his good promises will go unfulfilled.
He would not send the King without sending a herald to prepare his way.
It would be customary to honor the king by sending a servant ahead to make sure folks knew the king was coming so that proper honor could be paid to the king.
Why would Father send The King without a herald to announce his coming that he may be honored? He wouldn’t.
So, he promised the Messiah would be treated properly with a forerunner.
The herald shines for a moment because they get to announce the arrival of the king. But as the king shows up the herald sinks into the background.
“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
“You must increase and I must decrease.”
Then John is arrested and beheaded. He ran his course faithfully by announcing the coming king.
Father has kept his word.
Father, Son and Spirit do the same today.
King Jesus sends ambassadors on ahead to announce his kingdom. When the King takes up reign, we fade into the background and, and as Lecrae says, “…play it like an instrument.”
This has been the plan from the beginning. The Father, Son and Spirit had this in hand before the foundation of the world. Creation/Fall/Redemption/Restoration. The redemption of a people as a gift from the Father to the Son by the power of the Spirit is plan A. Revelation 13:8, speaking of those who worship the “beast” rather than King Jesus, “…everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.”
Father, Son and Spirit know, have ordained and have worked a plan to be faithful. God has been faithful and he is worthy of worship.
The challenge for us is that we live in the daily drama of the unfolding narrative of history and we often can’t see the forest for the trees.
These texts are intended to airlift us out of the mess of the “thick air of Narnia” long enough to get some perspective on where we are and how Father has got us there so that we can take courage, grasp hope and push on toward the full establishment of the kingdom.
- Try to slow down and receive the certainty of what you have believed by reflecting on the faithfulness of the Father.
– Read past journals.
– If you don’t journal, get yourself a journal for Christmas and start.
– Make sure you leave a record of Father’s faithfulness for somebody coming behind you. That’ll be a cool Christmas gift one day to a child or grandchild.
– You were made for Jesus, by Jesus, so make much of the King in all things.
– Read the Scriptures, reflect on the faithfulness of the Lord, repent as worship, pray as worship, write as worship, gather together as a fellowship as worship and sing together to the King as worship.
- Submit to the rule of King Jesus
– Live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
– The word is a lamp for your feet and a light for your path. Download it deep into your heart.
– Hear the Lord and obey him.
- Engage in the promise to Abraham to make a people for the Son from all nations by making disciples of the nations
– Make disciples where you are as part of the body.
– Use Christmas as an opportunity to love someone unconditionally and disciple them into the kingdom.
– Who are your men, guys? Who are your women, ladies? Grow your people up into Christ Jesus who is the head of us, his church.