Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Advent 2- Sermon Notes

Advent 2
Sermon Notes

December 6, 2015
Lynchburg, Virginia

         Review the sins from Malachi that caused God’s silence.
1.   Profane sacrifices- false worship
2.   Priests caused many to stumble by not accurately teaching the law.
3.   Robbing God of tithes and offerings.
4.   Divorce and unlawful marriages
5.   Slandering the Lord saying that the evil are good and the good evil.

Good news is good because it is the answer to bad news. If we are not sinners then we do not need a Savior. But if we are separated from God and in danger of judgment, then we should long for salvation by a Redeemer.
So, before good news, we need to be honest about the bad news. Not only are we partakers of a sinful nation, we, too, have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
1.   Our worship is not pure.
2.   Our pastors stumble at the Law of Christ.
3.   Christians refuse to tithe.
4.   There is much divorce and some Christians knowingly marry unbelievers.
5.   Discernment of good and evil struggles.

We hate these sins and be working to correct them in our lives and in our church. That is why we need good news. Jesus forgives us and promises to make us glorious in Him. He takes away our reproach.
I want to relate the bad news of God’s silence to the good news of the Messiah.

Luke 1:5   There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 
John the Baptist was of the lineage of Aaron. The priesthood had fallen into reproach.
Jesus was of the line of David. David was the royal line. The royal line had also fallen into reproach.

6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.  7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. 
Matthew Henry, “Many eminent persons were born of mothers that had been long childless, as Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Samson, Samuel, and so here John Baptist, to make their birth the more remarkable and the blessing of it the more valuable to their parents, and to show that when God keeps his people long waiting for mercy he sometimes is pleased to recompense them for their patience by doubling the worth of it when it comes.”

8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, 9 According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 
This was not the once annual visit into the holy of holies but rather the burning of incense in the holy place. At this time of year, two striking passages were read. First, the Law of the Nazarite was read. Second the passage from Judges about the conception of Samson was read. His mother, also, was a barren woman and the Lord gave her the one who would begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.
John the Baptist was also to be a Nazarite and was to bring the beginning of the deliverance of Israel from her enemies.

10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.  11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.  12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 
Even though he was righteous, fear fell upon him. Righteousness is no excuse for presumption. The righteous man is still a humble man. The angel was both power and authority, two things of which most men are afraid.

13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 
Fear not is always the greeting of an angel to a righteous man. Fear is a natural response to the angelic host.
The only thing more glorious than a woman bearing a child past her natural ability to do so is a woman bearing a child as a chaste virgin.
John- Johanan, gracious or the Lord will be gracious.

14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.  15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 
John was great in the sight of the Lord. We should keep this in mind. He was not great in the sight of men. He wore strange clothes, had a bizarre diet, lived in the wilderness and had very strong language. No doubt, his mother and father had to remind themselves often that what he was exhibiting as he grew up was greatness in God’s eyes.
Elisabeth, Mary, John and Jesus were all under reproach. There is a double meaning here in all of this fitting to God’s irony.
Men find Elisabeth, Mary, John and even Jesus reproachful. They look upon them with disdain. This is what has happened to the priesthood? This is what has happened to the royal line? And Elisabeth feels the weight of this reproach. She is childless and feels as if she the reproaches of her peers.
But God is doing something else. Even at this point, God is showing the world that He chooses the lesser things of the world to reproach the greater. Elisabeth feels reproach before men but the Scribes and Pharisees, bear reproach before God.

16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.  17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. 
John the Baptist was the forerunner of the Christ. He was the one who was getting us ready for Jesus. It was if it would be too much of a shock for Israel to simply have her Savior return. A prophet of the Old Covenant had to arise to declare in power the Advent of our Lord.
Not only had the kings fallen into reproach, losing their kingdom and failing their people, not only had the priests fallen into reproach, failing to declare the words of God and lead the people in truth and righteousness , but even the fathers of the land had failed, failing to teach their children in the things of the Lord. The hearts of the fathers were turned from their children and John Baptist led them into repentance to bring them back to their senses fulfilling their callings in God.
Mal. 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:  6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
Malachi- profane priests offering blemished sacrifices
Unfaithful husbands dealing falsely with the wives of their youth.
The people rob God not giving tithes and offerings.
They have entered into reproach.

God promises two things. 1. The sun of righteousness will arise. 2.  The forerunner of the Lord will arise in the spirit of Elijah.

18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 
19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.  20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. 
Gabriel is an archangel. He is displeased with Zacharias’s response. We ought to have some empathy with Zacharias. I am sure he was questioning himself as much as he was questioning the angel or the power of the Lord. But Gabriel does not cut him much slack. He says that Zacharias does not believe him. No doubt, Zacharias could have been easily convinced but Gabriel expected him to believe fully and immediately.
We need our spiritual radar trained a little better. When the things from God are revealed, we really should know. It is a testament to our immaturity and lack of spirituality that we are unable to discern what is truly from the all-powerful God.
It is not just that we need to believe God’s declarations against us. He speaks with authority and we must heed that authority. But Gabriel here holds Zacharias accountable for not believing that God was going to bless him mightily.
We are not doing well if we believe that we are sinners in need of repentance but fail to believe that we are forgiven, welcome into the presence of a Holy God and have become an object of tremendous blessing.
 N.T. Wright points out the hilarity of this situation. Zacharias comes out of the temple and cannot speak. He has just seen an angel and it is obvious to everyone that something remarkable has happened but Zacharias is unable to explain himself. Wright calls on us to imagine what it would be like trying to explain the appearance of an angel with your hands without being able to speak.

21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.  22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.  23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 
He finished out his duties before going home.

24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,  25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
Elizabeth conceives John Baptist.  She hides herself for five months. We are not told exactly why. Was she simply trying to protect the baby growing inside her? Was she having a hard time believing it was true so she waited until she was growing big with child before revealing herself?

         Mal. 4:1   For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 
         In Malachi, God declares that the proud shall have their day. Elisabeth felt reproach but it was not to be. God chose her to reproach the proud of hearth. He say her humble estate and lifted her up, promising her salvation by a Redeemer.

2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.  3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.
Our reproach is taken away from us because the sun of righteousness comes to us and declares that we who were deserving of reproach have been reckoned as righteous. Elisabeth and Mary receive the words of the angel with faith.

Mal. 4:4   Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.  5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:  6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
Elijah, John the Baptist, will declare repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This will fix the heart of the problem, enmity in families that men should raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Of course, John Baptist was only the beginning. When Jesus sent His Holy Spirit in power, God gave us a way to raise our children in this way. We have God’s power to do what God has called us to do.      

25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
         The Lord took away Elizabeth’s reproach. The Lord took away the reproach of Israel. The Lord took away the reproach of His people.
         The Lord has taken away our reproach.

First, we have reproach. Our sins cry out before us. This is true of us personally as well as corporately. As the people of God and as a nation, we bear reproach due to our sins. Thus, we are in constant need of forgiveness through a redeemer.

Second, the Lord does not leave us in our sins. He provides a way to purge our reproach. Elizabeth felt shame because she was not able to have a son. Of course, she should not have felt this shame. It was no fault of her own. But she did feel it. And she declares that God took away her reproach and vindicated her. She was a sinner. Childlessness was not her sin but she obviously felt as if her childlessness was related to her reproach.
But we do have a reason to feel shame. Our sins cry out against us. And we are in great need of someone to bear away our reproach. Thanks be to God in Christ! The forerunner of Christ, said, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Jesus says the same thing. But He does not come to us to chastise us but rather to forgive us our sins. This is God’s promise to you.
When we believe God, the world may still reproach us. But the only reproach that matters is God’s reproach. In Christ, He takes that away so that we can stand in His presence. We must believe.
Zacharias failed to believe God’s promise. And thus, he was struck dumb for a time so that he might be taught to believe God when He speaks.
How are you doing? God is speaking to you now. Hear Him. Turn from your sins. From withholding due worship. From profaning your worship with feeble praise. From robbing God in tithes and offerings. From twisting God’s Words instead of submitting to His clear teaching. From calling evil good and good evil.
And having turned from these things, call upon Jesus, the one who died to take away your reproach. In Him, be cleansed. Be filled with the Spirit. Rejoice that God has taken away your reproach.

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