To Turn

The Gospel of Luke   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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We see the angel Gabriel continue to tell Zechariah what John's mission and purpose was going to be



Last Sunday we looked at:
At how in the midst of a dark time in the rule and reign of King Herod
So dawned a moment of God’s presence and providence, through the casting of lots for Zechariah to enter the temple of the Lord to burn incense
As he entered we know he is met by an angel of the Lord Gabriel; and fear fell upon him
But the angel said “do not be afraid, for your prayer has been heard”
Zechariah and Elizabeth was going to have a son and you shall call his name John and many will rejoice at his birth

Today we will continue in the “Orderly Account“ of the Gospel Of Luke

And we will continue reading what the Angel Gabriel says to Zechariah about John who is to come
Some key themes throughout our text this morning:
The Holy Spirit
And the title of this sermon is “Turn Back” - That the Lord would turn us back to Him and His Promises.
Let us read our text this morning then pray to our Faithful God:
Please stand for the reading of God’s Word
Read Passage
Passage Luke 1:15-17
“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. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 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.””
So we leave off from last week the Angel still in the middle of his message to Zechariah the priest, who is going be a Father to John the Baptist
Luke 1:15 “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.”
“for he will be great before the Lord....”
First off we know Zechariah and Elizabeth were what?
Luke 1:6 “And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.”
So we know both Zechariah and Elizabeth because of God’s grace are righteous
So for Zechariah to hear this from the angel of the Lord, that his son will be “great before the Lord” is not a moment we can just skim past.
As we know it is the biggest worry of any Christian parent
of their child; that their children grow up in the Lord and love Him all the days of their life.
This worry for Zechariah and Elizabeth as parents is not a worry at all
As the angel of the Lord tells him that “he will be great before the Lord”
The angle speaking of John to come
See if the Lord came down and told me this about my two sons and any future Children that they “would be great before Him” this would give me and my bride; huge amounts of peace about their future after this life. And huge amounts of peace presently to us but sadly that hasn’t happened nor i’m I expecting it too.
See when someone is great in our world:
So when you here the word great, you automatically think they must be gifted with exceptional talents or achievements and held at a high position for a reason?
But John isn’t even born yet and the angle is calling Him great
Luke 7:28 “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.””
Matthew 11:11 “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
So who will John be great before?
Before Zechariah and Elizabeth as parents? Yes.
Before others or many? Yes.
But even more so “he will be great, before the Lord.”
The promised Messiah who is to come and this is whom your son will be great before
Which is astounding, because remind you in our text they are still “waiting” for the Messiah to come and bring hope and light
So as the world and as the people of God are in darkness and loosing hope
So 400 years of silence is being broken with these words as Zechariah is being told about John his son to come; to prepare the way of the Lord
Verse 5 “and he will be great before the Lord…And he must not drink wine or strong drink,”
What a random thing to say after such mighty and providential words right?
No Nothing random or by chance, if we can remember from last week, God who is in order placed this for a reason.
“he will be great before the Lord &
Why did the angel say this to Zechariah?
Obviously it wasn’t something interjected without a reason (for the Angel was God’s messenger so this was from God)
We know that Zechariah and Elizabeth will be parents to John
So their role as parents in this mission is to tell, teach and remind John as he gets older that this is what the angel told me in the temple to tell you
But why not wine nor strong drink? (beer)
Because John had a mission and a purpose and it wasn’t to waste away time on alcohol
So we know in this time and age, wine and or strong drink was something everyone would eventually partake in
But not the prophet John
John was to be as·cet·ic - characterized by or suggesting the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons.
In this case his mission and purpose was to big to fool around with something such a the tempting, fleeting pleasures of alcohol
An example in the OT takes us to Numbers 6 - to a section called the Nazarite Vow: The Nazarite vow was to dedicate and make oneself holy unto the Lord.
Numbers 6:1-2 “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord,”
What is a vow? - A solemn pledge (to oneself or to another or to God) to do something or to behave in a certain manner.
And one way it talks of in Numbers 6:3 how to ready oneself and behave in this vow to please the Lord
Numbers 6:3 “he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried.”
So while this vow means a solemn pledge or promise; so we can see God is serious about keeping John away from “wine and strong drink”, to have him ready to go, abstaining from alcohol.
Remember this was Dark times for the people of God:
Often times you see people in their pain, to numb their pain; drink, consume or fill their bodies with alcohol:
In doing so they are fooled by the enemy and their flesh that this is what they need to be healed
And in falling into this drinking to numb pain, so we can say the person who has consumed so much alcohol is now “drunk” or they are no longer sober and ultimately able to discern the truth from the lies
In this case we know John is being born for a reason; and that was to prepare the way of the Lord which is of upmost importance to usher in the Savior, He was to be holy unto the Lord.
See what do we know from John’s life that points us to him taking serious this call and purpose on His life?
John lived in the desert
To flee that temptation around him: “one who would come out of the desert just like Elijah.”
Desert - empty waste place, often arid, sandy and incapable of sustaining vegetable life
A desert frequently includes local areas where marginal life is possible
John obviously living away from the temptation it seems; but also in a sense to stay on mission and in a position for Him to hear from the Lord when it was times to carry out the mission
Matthew 3:4 “Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.”
- Luke 7:33 “For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’”
See for the angel to mention that: And he must not drink wine or strong drink,” means that
God was wanting John’s mind to stay focused, and sound; and on the mission at hand; to radically abstain from the temporary pleasures alcohol brings to the body
The KJV speaks of it like this is 1 Thess 5:6 “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.”
For John’s life God wanted him to know that his mission is too important to fool around with something that could easily cause him to stumble into foggy thought; and sin.
Verse 5 “and he will be great before the Lord. And he must not have wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb.”
and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb...”
Filled in the greek - pimplemi - to fill completely
A "filling" not of alcohol or anything wordly, but God's presence in the 3rd person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit who would be given to all who put their faith, hope and trust in Christ to come.
So instead of Zechariah hearing of something physical that John can partake in and be filled up with
So we see that John is to be filled with the Holy Spirit
But not as we know it, such as confessing our sins and putting our faith in Christ to be justified, no.
“For when has a baby in a womb professed Christ as Lord?” - When has a baby spoken in the womb?
John from his Mother’s womb will be given the gift of the Holy Spirit, this is a miracle, just as a baby is a walking miracle from the Lord.
So God knew John, called John and gave him a purpose before conception.
Jer 1:5 ““Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.””
So John was going to be filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother “Elizabeth’s womb”
And mind you in our orderly account of Luke the veil in the temple of the Lord has not yet been torn in two, meaning Jesus hadn’t yet been born, lived and died to bring the gift of the Holy Spirit to His Children
Verse 16 “And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God,”
Remember context: It was a dark time for the people of God, 400 years of silence, God said and did no miracles
So many in this time; as often we do in our weakness when times get tough, and in times of waiting we tend to forget God and His promises towards us as his children, and take matters into our own hands; and adopt lies and deception from the enemy
But John was a prophet, sent by God to “turn many”
Meaning the “Children of Israel” were facing the wrong way and had come to despise obedience as the waiting was getting too long. And as the desires of the flesh were tempting them to sin and eventually to death.
“He will turn” - in the greek is epistrepho
Greek - to change one’s belief’s, or to turn, and to repent or be converted
Because that is what we do when we have to wait too long . We start to get a cold heart and begin to despise obedience to the God who hasn’t shown Himself in our struggle, loneliness, addiction or short coming.
We in our stubbornness and flesh decide to turn away from God because He hasn’t answered the way we wanted
Or in this season of your life; it’s winter and pruning and there is not much growth
John 3:28 “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’”
To turn, but to turn who?
Obviously their are some children of God in the waiting that are growing weary?
“many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.”
We saw this word “many” in our text last week “and many will rejoice at his birth”
It wasn't as much preparing new Christians as it was bringing encouragement and truth back to light in those who were already Gods chosen, and they just needed a reminder.
Here God is referring to his own people, those whom have forgotten His promises; those heirs of the promise but have forgotten it in dark silence that the Messiah was still to come, and is in fact going to make his entrance into darkness very soon
This is John’s call from God, and he will turn many
In our greek word turn - so we remember it was call to change one’s belief
“he will turn many to the Lord their God.”
Notice it says to who? “the Lord their God.”
Their - belonging to or associated with (their being possessive)
Which states they know God, and God hasn't forgotten about them; and God knows them
And John is sent to bring clarity once again to God’s promise of a Savior to His Children.
Luke 1:17 “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.””
So who is Elijah?
Elijah who set the up an altar and made a sacrifice; but first dosed it with water even made a trench around it with water
The reason he did this was to turn the worshipers of bal back to the Lord their God
These worshipers calling on bal from above to set their altar and sacrifice on fire, it did not work.
And the worshipers of bal turned from their worship of an idol back to the God who set the altar, doused with water on fire from above.
1 Kings 18:36-40 “And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.”
So the Lord used Elijah to “turn” the worshipers of bal back to God.
R.C. Sproul
“John was not going to be Elijah; he was going to be Elijah reborn in the sense that he was going to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy of the return of Elijah, not because God was going to bring Elijah back from heaven, but because He was going to anoint this child with the same power and the same spirit that he had given to the great prophet Elijah.
Elijah called upon the God of the universe to set soaking wood on fire, from above “and he will go before him in Spirit and power.”
Matt 11 “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.
Just as Elijah in the Spirit and power called upon the worshipers of bal to turn, so John has come
Fulfilling this OT prophecy of Elijah, and what has he come to do?
Luke 1:17 “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.””
We see this word to turn again; meaning change your belief; repent or be converted
What happened when Elijah called on the Lord to consume the wet offering?
Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”
So what is John to do? To help remind them, to strengthen their belief in that God is in control and able to work His mighty will and power in their sin
“to turn...the hearts of the fathers to the children...”
With dark times, in this case spiritually, and physically
So as the Christians were struggling and giving up faith, so many would turn to sin and pleasures of the world.
And Fathers would turn away from their children as sin and pleasures of this world seemed like a better fix
So a Father lost and in-love with pleasures of this world, indeed affects groups of people such as their family, then affects communities, nations and the world.
As we can see our days right now, so many fatherless homes, and some much brokenness, disorder and sin
Well why doesn’t it say mothers? Because the mothers and wives are not the spiritual head of their household
And in this case and age it’s all to common for them to have to be the leader, because the Father or Husband is lost in the pleasures of sin and this world.
Those mothers and wives in this position I encourage them to keep seeking the Lord and pray that their husband would wake from his trance, repent or be converted (know it’s not him alone but the powers of darkness and his flesh working to destroy all)
But we know the Father being the head of the household; so John “turning the hearts of the Fathers to their children...”
Is a precious and needed thing to restore the love God into their children and in doing so this fear and love of God moves into the next generations to come
Fatherless Society:
So with our fatherless society today; so we have a glimpse and a taste of what this dark time looks like.
If you are a Father in here and you have children and all you have done is brought them to Church and sought the Church to disciple and teach your children while you sit in the back “hoping your children will turn out godly” “hoping your children will love the Lord” or better yet “leaving it up to your bride to do all the work”
Then brother in Christ you are sadly mistaken; and if not for the grace of God in your children's life it might not be too late for you lace up your spiritual boots straps; look your children in the eye and tell them you love them; repent and confess before the Lord and tell them you are sorry
And that you want read the Word of God together; and that you want Christ to change you to be a Father who loves God, loves His family more than the pleasures and sins of the world that are destroying everything
Christian Father your heart must be in love with Jesus and His Word and then your children will see this in your life and follow you
Prov 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
But you, Father’s of Children must be serious about leading your children spiritually and not only relying on the Church to do the work, or the youth ministry to do the spiritual discipline, or just your wife. No. they need it from you.
“turning the hearts of the Fathers to their children...”
With these weary Christians, so Good News was about to dawn upon their darkness:
“A new era was coming. A new epoch was about to break through in history, and there would be a dramatic change in families, in houses, and in relationships between the parents and their children”
turning 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 disobedient who scoffed at the truth of God would finally see the wisdom of the just.”
In godless societies and culture so with sin comes with it a disobedience, which is opposite of obedience (to follow order and commands that have been arranged for our good)
In this time it is not as if the 10 commandments ceased, the Law still existed, it’s just that they were growing weary over the 400 years of waiting and just started to give up hope, but their were also those who were unbelievers who mocked God’s Truth’s
But John was called to “make ready for the Lord a people prepared”
Meaning those called by God, it was time for John to carry out...
“His number one responsibility will be to make straight the way of the Lord, filled with the Holy Spirit and power; to be the herald of the coming Messiah, to be the one who goes before Him whom the Lord is sending to redeem His people”


Many a things we can pull from this text:
Let’s just be real though:
How easy is it for us to forget what Christ has done for us in the midst of a dark, silent and trying time?
We can’t sit here and say well I’m different, I wouldn’t of acted this way or thought this way in this time of spiritual silence, and physical oppression like the Children of Israel were doing
No. See the truth is, is that’s actually what we do often is forget, grumble and start to lose heart
And we need a reminder of what God has done for us (2 Cor 4:16 “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
See the very truth is you and I needed to here as our feet hit the ground this morning a reminder of God’s promise to us that He made through sending His Son, to live for us perfectly, to die a sinners death, to be buried in a tomb only to rise again, for us His Children.
See in this waiting 400 years of silence and darkness in the land, Zechariah now spoken too in the temple, and his prayer being answered after all these years to bear a son. With the message from the Angel Gabriel, dawned hope on the horizon.
Because right now their belief is God has forgotten us. God hasn’t kept His promise with us, God hasn’t provided, God doesn’t care!?
We may have that same belief, because God hasn’t ____ then He has forgotten me or He doesn't care, or He doesn’t love me.
So God’s people are wanting to know He is there, wanting to feel and see His protection, & be reminded of His promises:
This morning you and I need the reminder that God keeps his promises, though it’s dark times: God promises His Children to help and guide us, to be faithful to us, to give us wisdom from above, to give us strength and power and most of all the Holy Spirit which is our inheritance to eternal life through faith in Christ.
We as Christians have already been met with greatest promise ever given, the promise of salvation from our sins, God given us the promised Holy Spirit and His Word, that which gives us Hope for eternal life, in a dark world.
See now we are not awaiting a coming Messiah, now we are awaiting the coming of the Messiah, the Savior Jesus Christ to bring us home.
One day we will be before the Lord innocent, not because of what we did for Him, but because what He has done for us in giving us grace when we deserved death.
In Giving us mercy where we deserved wrath
In giving us heaven when we deserved hell
The call this morning, the application this morning is to “turn” to “turn back”
We who are Christians are called to repent, in that God through the conviction of His Holy Spirit draws us to Himself and turns us back to His purposes and will for our life.
And in this repentance, this exposing of sin hidden in our lives, so we embrace yet again His promises for our lives.
“Turn” meaning this morning, it may not be a specific sin, but a specific thought or belief that is fleshly and sinful that may sound like this.. that God is not good, that God will never provide, That God is not healer, or that God can not restore.
In our greek word turn - so we remember it was a call to change one’s belief
2 Cor 1:20 “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. (Christ) That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”
Or either you are a non believer, as now you have heard that John whom Jesus was to prepare the way for has come and given us life through faith in Him that you can be born again from your sins.
So now hope has appeared in your life because you believe Christ covers your sin and shame, by dying for you.
This morning you eyes have been opened and your belief is this as it was when Elijah called upon the Lord in front of the worshipers of bal “The Lord, He is God. The Lord, He is God.”
We will be before the Lord one day, not because of our greatness but because of His grace towards us in Christ His Son
We often think the Lord is silent, but we are not in this this time period. No, we now live in the season of life where the Holy Spirit dwells in us; and has regenerated us and given us life from the dead to bring glory to our Father in heaven.
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