Views from the Pew – 11.9.21

What did you learn from last week’s sermon, “God Breaks His Silence, Part Two”?

Q1: Was Luke a Jew or a Gentile?

Q2: Where was Zacharias when the angel appeared to him?

Q3: Why was Zacharias gripped by fear when he saw the angel?

Q4: Did Zacharias believe when the angel told him he would have a son?

Q5: What is the difference between a prayer of hope and a prayer of faith?

Q6: Who is Zacharias’ and Elizabeth’s son?

Q7: What were the consequences of Zacharias’ lack of faith?

Sermon Summary & Answers

Continuing on in the book of Luke, verse by verse, drawing out all that God intends for us to know, Pastor Wilson begins part two of “God Breaks His Silence.” Luke, a gentile, writes with a distinct Hebrew foundation by using the Old Testament to shed light on what is taking place. Remember, we’re in Jerusalem, around 5 BC, in the temple with Zacharias, during the reign of Herod the First. Zacharias, is one of 18,000 priests that serve in the temple. Now, during this particular service, Zacharias’ name was drawn to do the incense in the holy place. A once in a lifetime experience to present the prayers of the saints. So, the Jews have gathered, it’s the hour of prayer, the fragrance of incense wafts invigorating their prayers. They can see the smoke going up; a picture of prayer (also seen in Psalm 141:1-2 and in Revelation 5:8, golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints). The Jews pray together but individually and see the smoke rise to the throne of heaven. Then in Luke 1:11-12, an angel appeared to Zacharias, and he was scared. Well, more like petrified. This is a common response to an uncommon event. Fear would grip any sinner or saint saved by Grace in the presence of a holy angel who had just come from the presence of God. Pastor Wilson asks us to consider why was he not already afraid? Why are we not already afraid if we believe God is already with us and that the presence of God inhabits the saints? Why do we walk around like we are not afraid? Do we really believe that?

In Luke 1:13 the angel said don’t be afraid, meaning this fear can only be commanded away by the angel. The angel tells Zacharias his prayer has been heard, and he is gonna get a child even though Zacharias and Elizabeth are old folks, and Elizabeth is not able to have children. Did the angel have to specify which prayer? Obviously, the one about a child. Pastor Wilson shared that he suspects Zacharias stopped praying and hadn’t continued to hold out hope for a child. So, the angel had to refer him back to the prayer prayed for years surely but never answered.

But God hears every prayer and may not act immediately but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t intend to act.”

Pastor Steve Wilson

We exist at this time, in this space. We can’t be anywhere else because we are here now. But, it is not so with God. He is not constrained because He is outside of time and space, and He answers prayers prayed for at different times and places. God says He is going to move now in response to your [Zacharias’] prayer. I haven’t forgotten. Elizabeth will have a child. Name him John. The desire of his heart was about to be realized even after his heart lost its desire. When God decides to answer, it is not about convenience or inconvenience or age or any obstacle. God does what He wants to do. When He wants to do it. And, He does it miraculously. This birth will be miraculous because of their age and Elizabeth’s barren condition.

Also, all of this was laid out on the tapestry of time without regard to Zacharias and Elizabeth. So, as Zacharias is standing there offering Israel’s prayers, God is about to answer prayers that were prayed for years, which is why all this is happening at the temple. This is the scene of what God is doing in their lives, but it also represents the people and what God is about to do in their lives. The prayers of God’s people are about to be answered! Christmas is coming. God decided it was time to answer these prayers! This is the first note of that movement towards Christmas, connected to prayers. Mark it in your Bible! This is God’s first action to bring about the birth of His Son. Right here, this moment, God says, I will!!

But Zacharias ain’t convinced. He asks how will I know this for certain since we old? The angel says, I am Gabriel! The first time Gabriel appeared was in Daniel 9, 500 years ago, saying that the Messiah will come, and Zacharias would know that. So, the Jews had prayed for that and some had lost hope by now. Hard to blame them since it had been 400 years since God even said anything to Malachi, but God hadn’t forgotten. Malachi 3:1, “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.

Notice, there are two messengers, the messenger and the messenger of the covenant. Gabriel announces the arrival of the Messiah and John who will usher Him in. Malachi 4:5-6 is what is happening in Luke 1. John will make ready a people for the Lord who is coming, and he will turn hearts of fathers back to their children and vice versa. Zacharias’ prayers will be answered, and the prayers of all Israel. John is about to arrive, the forerunner for Jesus. Zacharias says how will I know!? Translation: Yeah Right!? Then the angel said, I am Gabriel. I am an Angel. God is speaking. I have been sent to speak to you that’s why you should believe; that’s how you know. Gabriel rebuked him for not believing him. Luke 1:20, Gabriel tells Zacharias to be silent and that he will be unable to speak until these things take place because you did not believe my words, and they will be fulfilled.

Pastor Steve explains there is a difference between faith and hope. The distinction, you ask. Faith is believing what God has said, and hope is our anticipation of His promises or our own interests. Hope varies. A person can lose hope, but there is no room for losing faith!

You don’t believe, Zacharias, that’s a problem. The fact he lost hope in a child, no problem. God didn’t promise it, but now God made a promise and you don’t believe it.”

Pastor Steve Wilson

God has said I will provide for you! Like sparrows and flowers. God gives us our daily bread. This is not a prayer of hope. It is a prayer of faith on what God said He would do. Now, He did not say how He would provide or how much, so even as we pray in faith God provides, we may also pray in hope or the way we would prefer to be provided for, such as what job we want etc. God hasn’t promised Zacharias a child until this moment, and Zacharias should’ve believed it! Now he can’t speak and can’t hear. Gabriel makes him deaf and mute immediately and that will expire when John is born. Cue third miracle! God acts outside of natural order, so we don’t miss this significant event by accompanying it with miraculous signs, so we all believe it.

But there are also consequences for believers that manifest when we lack faith. Zacharias’ lack of faith is illustrated by becoming deaf and mute. However, this does not thwart God’s plan. His plan doesn’t ever depend on human faith! His plan establishes our faith. He’s gonna do what He’s gonna do even if you fail to believe. That won’t stop His plans. Christian faith rests on the word of God! But God’s power does not rest on our belief. Whether you believe it or not that doesn’t matter, if God said it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen.

After seeing an angel, Zacharias eventually exits the temple, and in Luke 1:21 the people wonder what’s taking so long since people have to pray until he was done, and they’ve run out of prayer. But when he came out he couldn’t tell them the delay. They realized he’d seen a vision by making enough signs. They’re wrong, he saw an angel!!! Regardless, they know something incredible just happened. Then Zacharias went home. Who knows how he was going to tell his wife what happened or explain what’s about to happen. But, she was about to have a baby in the ordinary way husbands and wives do. Elizabeth secluded herself for five months. They were faithful in the sight of God but not to man. She probably thought on days that God didn’t love her, but now she knows better! You’d think she wouldn’t be able to wait and make sure people know too, but she didn’t. She only cares about what God thinks of her! She had much to celebrate. And, we have a lot to rejoice in! God’s Grace has arrived. First, the forerunner, John the Baptist then the Lamb of God, who will take away the sins of all who believe.

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  1. Gentile. He is Greek.
  2. He is in Jerusalem at the temple lighting the incense during the hour of prayer.
  3. He had a common response that sinners have when in the presence of a holy messenger of God.
  4. No. He asked how he would know for certain and because of his lack of faith, He was made deaf and mute until John the Baptist was born.
  5. A prayer of faith is based on God’s promises and happen regardless of our faith. A prayer of hope is not promised by God and may not happen.
  6. John the Baptist
  7. The angel, Gabriel rebuked Zacharias and told him to be silent until John the Baptist was born. He was unable to speak or hear.