Friday, April 19, 2013

The Woman Prophet

Luke 1
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.

What an example Luke sets for us.  He researches the account.  He has a desire to compile a narrative. (Big lesson here. This is an example of God fulfilling the desires of Luke's heart by giving him all of the information he needs to present the Gospel to most excellent Theopilus.)

Psalm 34: 4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

I think it would be good to follow in the example he has set for us.  We should investigate what others are saying about Jesus, God, Christianity so that we too might have certainty concerning the things we have been taught. 

1John Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

Historical note there were a bunch of Herods.  Here he is talking about Herod the Great.

 Herod the Great (c. 74–4 BC), Herod Archelaus (23 BC–c. AD 18), Herod Antipas (20 BC–c. AD 40),tetrarch of Galilee New Testament up to Acts 4:27 Herod II (c. 27 BC - 33 AD), Philip the Tetrarch (4 BC–AD 34),  Herod Agrippa I (c. 10 BC–AD 44), called "King Herod" Acts 12 (Wikipedia)

The two things I want to point out.  First verse 6 says they were both righteous and walking blamelessly in all the commandments.  Second they had no children. Understand the times and the culture.  God gave a command twice, first to Adam and Eve and then to Noah and his family. Gen 1:22 , 9:1.  It can be understood then that the Jew is considered to be disobedient to God if they do not do their part in "filling" the earth.   Second tt can be understood then that they are barren because those that think wrongly think God has cursed them or God is ashamed of them.  This paragraph tells me to pay particular attention to this situation and how God answers the gossips.

   8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

The shame will be removed.  The gossips will have their mouths brought to shame.  The blessing will come.  Their quiver will be filled.  The Lord will bless.  The commandment will finally be obeyed in full.  The commandment that was so important that God repeated it.  Zechariah and Elizabeth will be filled with joy.  They will have bragging rights.  I am the father of one child because that is all God gave me.  I am so consumed with the joy the one child brings, my heart would be rent in two if anything happened to her. 

Can you imagine that if you were Zechariah.  He gets to be a dad.  Someone is going to call him daddy. Someone is going to come running up to him and hug him.  Top it off with the mission this little child will have.  He will be the herald.  He will end the 400 years of silence.  He will not drink because he will be filled with the Holy Spirit.  I've seen drunks shout in the street. Zechariahs  boy will shout in the street sober words.  He will sober the hearts of the foolish.  He will turn the hearts of man from themselves to their children.  Mothers and fathers will quit thinking about themselves they will start thinking about eternity and their children.  We need to think about eternity.  I cannot say it enough.  Think about eternity.  Think about your death.  Turn from your thoughts of today.

Zechariah was thinking I'm sure.  He was not a person to believe anything anyone said.  He knew the consequences of false prophecy. Even a big and terrifying angel is not going to prevent him from being sure that what he repeats is the word of God.  I want to reinforce to you that thinking is an active part of Christianity.  I don't want anyone that listens to me to just accept my words.  I want you thinking.  I want you thinking just like the disobedient started thinking about wisdom of the just.  I want you thinking just like the parent thought about their children. Check and be sure just like Zechariah does.

18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

Silly Zechariah should have done a little bit more thinking before he opened his mouth.  Think about it with me.  Zechariah has asked for a sign.  Gabriel has already told him what the sign is, "your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son".  Remember earlier I said test the spirit?  That is what Zechariah was doing.  Please remember Satan can mascaraed as an angel of light. 

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light

But let's look a little deeper into this.  You see there has not been a prophet in all of Judea since Malachai.  Sure the Maccabees happened but they are not God inspired words from what I can tell.  You see a prophet that stands with certainty and proclaims the word of God is at risk.  They are at risk losing their life.

Deuteronomy 18:20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.”

The Lord has ended the 400 years of silence with silence.  The Lord has used Gabriel "GODS MAN" to bring the message.  God sent his close messenger, The Lancelot, the first soldier, the one that stands in the presence of God to shut the mouth of priest. He does it so the people would listen to the prophet from God.  Zechariah has heard from Gods messenger but he wont speak. Zechariah has heard from an angel.  Zechariah has become the message from God.  The message we must all here is God is not silent.  God wants us to hear.  God wants us to hear the message of eternal consequences. 

So, open your ears.  Open your mind.  Turn from yourself.  Turn towards God and listen because Gods messenger is about to open his mouth.
Are you ready?  Are you humble?  Have you shut your mouth?  Have you thought about eternity.  Are you sober?  The message will be sobering for sure. 

24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

That old man and that old woman conceived a child.  Can you imagine?  How many times she was hopeful?  How many times she was disappointed.  Can you imagine how many tears she has shed.  Can you imagine how month after month seeing in her discharge the disappointment and the loss and proof of her barrenness?  The sign that showed such promise in her youth that she could become a mother.  What showed such promise on the day she was betrothed?  The years of youth and vigor have been given over to a home for two not three or more.  The years of strength and stamina have been spent cooking and cleaning for only two not three or more.  The strength of her youth was not spent holding a child.    It was not spent staying awake at night tending to the needs of a sick child.  The hope that soon you will be preparing a nursery fades.  The hope that you will soon be asking your mother for advice, dies.  It withers.  It is sad.  It was in this woman filled with sorrow and looked upon with scorn that has now been blessed. This old man with desperate prayers to God will be glad and filled with joy.

But.                                 But……………………….. She keeps herself hidden.

Five months she is pregnant and hidden.  I don't know why.  Possibly morning sickness.  Possibly the news is too good to be true.  Maybe she thinks she is not really pregnant.  We know this she disappeared a woman under reproach.  She emerges from out of hiding with a belly, a nice round baby belly.  This baby belly in its silence screams for the world to see.  It is there to show the world her reproach has been removed.  God has looked at her and blessed her.  God has looked at her and done what was impossible.  This wonderful news a baby belly declares is talked about.  The gossipers that whispered about her reproach now must speak of the miracle.  This Woman gets to testify.  She tells the world with all of her womanhood that the savior is coming.  For an entire month this news goes around.  For a month this is the subject of conversation. Until……

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Most of us know the story of Mary receiving the news.  I want us to see what Mary did. Verse 39 in those days Mary arose and went with haste.  Do you see that? She woke up in the morning and ran.  She hurried.  She went directly to Elizabeth.  No stops to shop. No sightseeing.  She went to see Elizabeth.  Elizabeth the herald for the herald, the woman filled with the baby filled with the spirit and the power of Elijah speaks.  She speaks the words the nation of Israel needs to hear.  She declares the words we need to hear. 

"Blessed is she who believed."

You are not much different from Elizabeth you know.  You might see this Elizabeth and think, "sure she was old, and in her day she was a reproach".  You think to yourself, "I am no reproach," " I am no old barren woman." 
In the sight of God you are a reproach.  All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.  If you have broken a law of God you are a sinner.  If you have lied you are a liar. 

Proverbs 14: 34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people

You will not be exalted because of what you have done.  In fact you are a reproach.
You are a reproach because of your sin. God will not let sinners into heaven.  You will forever suffer shame in the fiery pit that is Hell. 
You will be unable to escape that shame.
But there is a way to escape the coming fire.  Run.  Run like Mary.  Run too Jesus.  Believe in Jesus the atonement for your sin and live.  Repent and believe. 
If you do you will say just like Elizabeth said "He has taken away my reproach"
It is not too late.  You can Run today.  Run from your sin and Run to God. 
Listen to the words Elizabeth said. "Blessed is she who believes."  
Believe and be blessed.