Advent 2004 -1- Christmas Messengers Bring Us Hope

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Reading: Luke 1:5-25

And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.  Luke 1:17 ( NIV)

I.   In the time of Herod, King of Judea (v.5a)

     A.  A time of Foreign domination

           1.  Judea ruled by Rome

                 a.  Pagan, Self-worshiping

           2.  Who is king of the Jews? Herod

                 a.  Only part Jewish, not Davidic

                 b.  Not a God-worshipper

                 c.  Appointed by/Loyal to Rome

     B.  A time of Intrigue and Violence

           1.  These are the last days of Herod the Great

           2.  Many wives/sons vying for power

     C.  A time of Waning hope

           1.  There had been no prophet for 400 years

See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse. Malachi 4:5-6 (NIV)

           2.  Times were hard, no end in sight

II.  You are to name him John (vv.5b-17)

     A.  Your prayer has been Heard (vv.5-13)

           1.  In this time of corruption: 2 faithful people

                 a.  Zechariah: the Lord Remembers

                 b.  Elizabeth : Oath of God

                 c.  Faithful but not blessed as they hoped

           2.  Despite the circumstances they pray

                 a.  The 400 year silence of God

                 b.  Despite their own age!

           3.  God breaks his 400 year silence

                 a.  Don’t be afraid God heard your prayers

                 b.  You will have a prophet for a son

                 c.  Name him “John” (God is Gracious)

     B.  He will be Spirit–Filled from birth (v.14-16)

           1.  The Spirit had been gone since Malachi

                 a.  Israel hanging on the last word: curse

                 b.  Waiting to see if that is God’s last word

                 c.  Many will rejoice!

           2.  Now the Spirit returns to rest on an infant!

                 a.  He is to be set aside

                 b.  Not with wine but the H.S.! (Acts 2; Eph 5)

     C.  He will Prepare the way (v.17)

           1.  He will bring people back to God (from?)

           2.  He will fulfill what Malachi promised (4:5-6)

           3.  Prepared: something bigger is coming!

III. God shows Favor removing Disgrace (vv.18-26)

     A.  God does the Impossible (vv.18-20,24)

           1.  Zech is speechless (!)

           2.  Hope from a hopeless situation!

     B.  Believe the new Reality (v.20)

           1.  It’s a God thing (not an “ordinary” thing)

     C.  Out of nothing: Blessing! (vv.24-25)

           1.  Shown favor taken away distress

           2.  Not only for an individual, for His people!

The Bottom Line:

In times of Distress, we fully Believe God’s message of Hope.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)

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