Long Awaited Hope
We all have moments of doubt, worry, and fear.
We have moments of hopeful expectation.
We desire great things to happen and great things to change the situations we are in.
Maybe we have great promises guiding us and to lean on.
Maybe we just have a strong positive attitude and mindset.
What is clear is we have hope in something, we hope for this to happen.
Maybe it was in having a baby.
Maybe a job, maybe a horse, a saddle, maybe for that all-clear order from a disease.
There are many things we all wait for and hope for to be the case.
I know a few years back we made a trade on a couple horses for a horse out of Florida.
We were to meet a guy coming from Florida to Glen Rose one night.
He was to let us know when he got close to Weatherford because we were to meet him at the truck stop off of 281 and 20 there at Santo.
He messaged us that he was just east of Fort Worth and we decided to go ahead and get down there, mind you this was at 10 at night.
We get there and we wait and wait. It is around 2 AM and he texts and says they were in Fort Worth.
We wait and wait some more. We go in and eat some truck stop hot box food and immediately regretted that. So now the wait is miserable as well as long.
Finally at around 4:30 the man arrives.
We get the horse and papers and leave for home at about 5.
We get in around 6:30 and get a few winks of sleep to just get up and go to work all day.
Now, we waited a long time for this horse to get there. We were told that it was coming and we went and waited. The horse arrived as said but just not when we felt it should arrive.
We even suffered some during the wait and was miserable. But the horse arrived and we got to go home.
We knew the horse was coming and we waited expectantly at every vehicle that turned in at the truck stop.
But this hope we had is nothing compared to the hope of this little boy.
I read this story this week and I feel it perfectly describes the hope that Zechariah displays in this section of Scripture.
A man approached a little league baseball game one afternoon. He asked a boy in the dugout what the score was. The boy responded, "Eighteen to nothing--we're behind."
"Boy," said the spectator, "I'll bet you're discouraged."
"Why should I be discouraged?" replied the little boy. "We haven't even gotten up to bat yet!"
He was not downcast at all because he knew they had a chance if they got in to bat.
Even this hope from both these stories is not the same hope Zechariah had in the Messiah coming. No, this hope is a “confident expectation, solid assurance.”
We see this same hope in the song of Zechariah.
They just had a baby and he had just received his voice to speak again. But he did not praise his son or that he had his voice back.
No! He praised the savior who had not been born yet but was in the womb of Mary. He praises Him in all past tense verbs. Meaning that at this arrival all said was accomplished even if it was to be a while before they came to fruition.
Let us look at the hope Zechariah had in Luke 1:67-79
Luke 1:67–79 (ESV)
67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, 68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
This hope is seen in three stages the first is...
He Has Visited(67-69)
He Has Visited(67-69)
Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and he prophesied that “he has visited and redeemed his people…[He] has raised up a horn of salvation.”
Has visited in this we can almost hear exasperation in this coming of the Messiah that the prophets had told of long ago.
The Messiah had been promised for centuries but it was certain He would come because the prophets were proved to be true prophets in that the words they spoke came true before the people.
They had spoke truth in many areas and the accuracy was and is astounding.
We see over three hundred OT prophecies fulfilled with the first coming of Christ.
God made each one come true just as He said they would and that means that the prophecies of the second coming can be just as trusted.
Christ has come He has visited and He will visit again.
This is a certain fact we can lean on and know to be true.
This is more certain than the little boy’s team getting ahead in the baseball game and more certain than the man from Florida delivering the horse to us.
Those stories were of people and people fail, but the Lord does not.
This is why Zechariah had so much praise for the child still in the womb of Mary over the praise of his own child.
The Long Awaited Hope was fulfilled in the fact that the Lord had visited. He has come and He has raised up a horn [power] of salvation in Him alone.
Many long years of waiting and silence and misery, beyond the misery of the truck stop hot box food on us, were now behind them.
The prophecies were fulfilled and that is hope attained and delivered.
This is genuine hope this is a time of rejoicing and praise because He has Visited.
Zechariah praises this because He has Redeemed His people. This means set free.
He has liberated people from the prison of sin and death.
His visitation is comparable to when the Allied forces discovered the concentration camps in WWII.
Those imprisoned Jews were set free and released from death.
Jesus did this in His visitation.
Yet, Israel still lived under the yoke of Roman rule for many more years and they still struggle in the world today, Jesus has visited and made freedom, true freedom, available to all who believe.
The second coming will vanquish all evil and oppression and disease and physical death.
And we can rest assured in this coming since He visited this first time.
But not only has He visited but...
He Has Saved(70-74a)
He Has Saved(70-74a)
The promise of salvation and mercy delivered by the prophets is coming to fulfillment. The deliverance is certain, just the time is unknown.
The horn [power] is in the child to be born. Jesus is the all-powerful Son of God.
He is the power of salvation. His power is above all forms of humanity or spiritual. His deliverance is certain, we maybe just don’t know the means of this deliverance.
But the one thing we do know, the enemy is defeated...he cannot capture more prisoners. It means total victory for the people of God. The word salvation carries the meaning of “health and soundness.” No matter what the condition of the captives, their Redeemer brings spiritual soundness. When you trust Jesus Christ as Saviour, you are delivered from Satan’s power, moved into God’s kingdom, redeemed, and forgiven (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 174.)
He has saved. This is stated emphatically here because He has visited.
In this visitation He made salvation ours and redemption ours. Jesus came and brought atonement for us and all who will believe.
He did this because of love and because we could not do it ourselves. We are powerless to defeat the true enemy. He has a death grip over the world and people and it took Christ coming and making the way to God possible for us because we can not do this.
It took Him coming so sin could be conquered and deliverance made possible.
This was a promise sworn to Abraham back in Genesis 12:1-3 “1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
All the families of the earth are now blessed because of the visitation and subsequent salvation brought by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Full deliverance of evil and all oppression is still future when Christ returns again with a Sword and wages war on all enemies and evil. When this occurs Rev. 19:12-18
“12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.
13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.
14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.
15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God,
18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.”
This is the full and final salvation that he initiated when he visited the first time and this is the full and final long awaited hope we all have.
The time when there will be no more pain, death, suffering, cancer, diseases, pagan hatred, twisted moral agendas, but joy, hope, love, and glorious living that all can have in Christ the Lord.
But this salvation is not only just set free from the grips of death to do what we want but to service in fear of him. We can do this because...
The Way Has Been Paved (74b-79)
The Way Has Been Paved (74b-79)
Jumping ahead to verse 76 we see that the way was paved by the son of Zechariah, John the Baptizer.
he paved the way for the people of Israel to see and find Jesus. He opened the path for the ministry of Christ.
He made knowledge of Christ and salvation through him known to all. He demonstrated that Jesus was and is the only way. He was born to serve the Lord.
Zechariah made it clear from the beginning that John was to be the one who paved the way. This was from the prophecy he received from the angel and the prophecies of the OT that John was the Elijah to come before the Lord.
He set his son on this course saying “This is why you were born son. You were born to pave the way. You were born to go and proclaim the name of Jesus the Messiah so all people can hear and learn of this amazing salvation and redemption through Him alone.”
He had a purpose and was trained in that purpose from birth. He was trained in expectant hope from birth.
He knew that salvation was from death and to life but not a life of my will be done but a life of Thy Will Be Done.
And this takes us back to verses 74b-75.
Serving him without fear in holiness and righteousness, in all our days.
This is how we keep hope in the Lord thriving in our lives and in the lives of others.
We live a life of service and commitment to Him in all our life for all our days.
We have people who work at a career until the day they die and we give them great respect for the fact they are still going and working at 70, 80, 90+.
How much more glorious is it when we have a faithful servant of the Lord who goes to the grave still proclaiming the Lord and living a life above reproach?
I say that life is greater than the life of the people who work until death.
Service to the Lord is the number one item we all need to do everyday.
The way has been paved for us to serve Him and to guide people to Him.
The real hard work has been done with the Baptizer, Christ, the disciples and apostles of the Lord. We are standing on the shoulder of Giants.
We have the wisdom in our hands with the Word of God. We have years and years of good sound teaching written for our use.
Men died for years to get he word of God to us and to keep the writings of theologians alive.
They served faithfully and kept the way paved for us, who are we to not use the road they paved.
For us to forsake this would be like a man taking over a camp or ranch that the cows had been gentled. The cows would handle well and were not too bad. The past camp man worked hard to get them there and all who helped appreciated the work he did to get the cows gentle and capable of being handled.
Then the new guy does not prowl or handle them correctly and within one year the cows are back to running over you and running off.
He did not keep the roadway clear and paved because the going was too easy.
We have a clearly lit path now because of these who paved it and we must continue to work at it because it is getting grown over now and difficult to traverse.
Jesus came then and was a great light and He is the light. John made Him known and so have many since. They showed them to the light as we should because this light is coming again and if people are not ready, they will be consumed.
He is the sunrise that will visit us from on High and when He comes again He will not come as a humble and gentle lamb but as a roaring lion on the war path because the time for judgment has come.
Will we grow strong in spirit and focus on the Lord and keep the way paved for others to learn of His visitation, salvation, through our proclamation?
Or will we be like that bad camp man and allow the world to take over and grow wild and crazy?
There is hope still. There is joy. There is faith in the Lord alone. We have hope because He has visited and made salvation available and he has offered this salvation to all who will believe.
This hope we have is seen in this story of an experiment on rats...
A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!
Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them. If hope holds such power for unthinking rodents, how much greater should is effect be on our lives. (Today in the Word, May, 1990, p. 34.)
We can stay afloat this time of year and any time of year because we have great hope in the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
We may feel like the boy from the baseball team and not be discouraged that we are behind right now because when our savior steps in, He will devastate all who are against Him.
That is hope that is guaranteed and absolutely certain. We can trust in that and know that Jesus is the only hope we have in anything.
We can then sing like Zechariah “BLESSED BE THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL” because He is our God and savior who has saved and is saving us and will completely save when He comes again and we are all with Him in Glorious glory beyond anything we could ever imagine.