REPENTANCE: THE WAY OF THE FORERUNNER!Continuing on a sidebar in the Christmas story which is not as well known as the birth of Jesus, we key in today on this stunning incident. What lessons we can learn from this entire event surrounding the father of John the Baptist, Zacharias?
If you have read and reread the entire chapter of Luke 1 (here), the picture given of Zacharias is that of a solid man of God, faithful and accepting of what God had given to him in life. His wife, Elizabeth, was barren, descended from the priestly line of Aaron (Moses' brother) and also content with her lot in life.
Then God's Angel Gabriel showed up. God showed up. When God shows up - things happened. When God shows up big time, as He did here, and we don't believe what He says, there could be a small price to pay! The higher our standing with God, the higher the cost of disobedience, unbelief or the smallest doubt. The Lord disciplines those whom He loves...and some of us, He must love a lot!
So the first and major thing we need to glean from the passage is:- when God literally sends His heavenly messenger, and He comes with a DIRECT WORD - BELIEVE and OBEY.
This is amazing account of God's Mercy, Grace, Love and Outreach to reconcile mankind to Him in 13 short verses! So much Truth inhabit these verses, that it is incumbent on us to just camp there a while.
Then let's look at the following portions of Zacharias' song (from Luke 1:68-79)
68 “Blessed is 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,
Who have been since the world began,
71 That we should be saved from our enemies
And from the hand of all who hate us,
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
74 To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited[a] us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Verse 68: God's plan to save ALL mankind, began when He called an Iraqi named Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans to cross over from his homeland by the Euphrates River and begin the plan. Abraham became the first Hebrew, which means "crossed over", and thus, the first Jew. The plan to rescue mankind from the curse of Adam's sin had begun.
Verse 69: Zacharias the Priest has just prophesied the Messiah - Jesus - before Gabriel has even appeared to Mary!
Verses 70-73: He said that THIS Messiah would fulfill the promise made to and THROUGH the Prophets for the Arrival of He Who saves (the literal meaning of the Name Jesus). It is He Who will rescue many from the enemy and those who despise God's people.
Then Zacharias speaks about who his son, John, will be and what the true mission of the forerunner is going to be.
Verses 76-79: John the Baptist will become the last "Old Testament" Prophet as he is coming to prepare the way ....with Repentance! This is John's strength and what our take away should be.
The Way of the forerunner is Repentance. This is the doctrine we should be teaching, preaching and practicing. As Forerunners ourselves, in the tradition of the son of Zacharias, let us then prepare the Message of the Good News of the Arrival of the Savior - not just at Christmas time - but at ALL times. Repentance is the way to Kingdom Living, as John the Baptist, so powerfully started during his ministry on earth.
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