Where Is God At Work Luke 1:11-20, 65-68, 76-77 Sept. 05, 2004

11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and overcome with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 There will be joy and delight for you, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother's womb. 16 He will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people. 18 "How can I know this?" Zechariah asked the angel. "For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years." 19 The angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. 20 Now listen! You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time."

1: 65 Fear came on all those who lived around them, and all these things were being talked about throughout the hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard about [him] took [it] to heart, saying, "What then will this child become?" For, indeed, the Lord's hand was with him. Zechariah's Prophecy 67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: 68 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and provided redemption for His people.

1:76 And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, 77 to give His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.  HCSB
 
 

1.    God Is At Work In . . Past Time. 1:11-15

    A.    God's Past Time Work . . Confirmed. 1:11-13
        11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and overcome with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.

    B.    God's Past Time Work . . Coronated. 1:14-15
    14 There will be joy and delight for you, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will
be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit
while still in his mother's womb.

Summary: In these verses we can see God's work in the past is confirmed, and coronated. Zechariah did not expect the confirmation that his prayer would be answered, but the angel announced it. Have you heard sometimes God makes us wait so He can give a special answer? Elizabeth didn't bear just another Jewish boy, but John the Baptist. This birth will receive a kind of coronation from the community, and a special touch of God's Holy Spirit inside the womb. God knows he will be great even before he is born. Does this speak do the issue of abortion?

2.    God Is At Work In . . Present Time. 1:16-17

    A.    God's Present Time Work Is A . . Prophesied Work. 1:16-17 a
        16 He will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, God's

    B.    Present Time Work Is A . . Preparing Work. 1:17 b
        ". . . to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding
of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.

Summary: This present work of the Lord, confirmed prophecy, and prepared the way for the detailed
implementation of the forerunner ministry of John. John's ministry turns the hearts of many toward the Lord. What a blessing that all of us need to have foremost in our desires. In the book of Malachi it says "I am going to send you Elijah the prophet. . ." God fulfills His promise to prepare for the coming ministry of Jesus. The words of John recorded in John 3:30 indicate the success of his preparation for this task as he says "He must increase but I must decrease."
 

3.    God Is At Work In . . Proper Time. 1:18-20, 1:65-66

    A.    God's Proper Time Work Is Proper for the . . Priest. 1:18-19
        18 "How can I know this?" Zechariah asked the angel. "For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years." 19 The angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news.

    B.    God's Proper Time Work Is Proper for the . . Prophecy. 1:20
        20 Now listen! You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time."

        1.    God Is Going To Do What He Prophesied even if the Priest doesn't believe.
        2.    Some things God will not do unless we believe.
        3.    Some thing God does whether we believe or not.

    C. God's Proper Time Work Is Proper for the . . People. 1:65
        1: 65 Fear came on all those who lived around them, and all these things were being talked about
throughout the hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard about [him] took [it] to heart, saying, "What then
will this child become?" For, indeed, the Lord's hand was with him.

Summary: God's work is properly timed for the priest, prophecy, and the people. In stunned, quizzical, unbelief the Priest Zechariah ask for a sign (as if the angel was not sign enough). But Zechariah did not
observe this priestly function every day; so on the proper time for the priest God spoke to him. It is
also the proper time for the prophecy to be fulfilled, and it will be fulfilled even if it takes a special work
on the priest ability to speak. We need to recognize some acts of God require our belief, but many
times God acts whether we believe or not. If God said it; it will happen, it is settled! Finally the people
acknowledge the proper timing of the Lord as they see the obvious affects of God's hand all over the
birth, and early life of John. I believe just like some children are educationally gifted. Some are
spiritually gifted, and John is obviously such a child.
 

4.    God Is At Work In . . Praise Time. 1:67, 1:76-77

        Ps 22:3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. KJV
 
        Ps 50:23 Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright
        I will show the salvation of God." NKJV

    A.    God's Praise Time Work A . . Provided Work. 1:67-68
        67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: 68 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and provided redemption for His people.

    B. God's Praise Time Work A . . Preparing Work. 1:76-77
        1:76 And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to
prepare His ways, 77 to give His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.

Summary: Praise time comes as we see what God has provided and how He has prepared for all of us. When Zechariah could speak again the filling of the Holy Spirit made his first words praise to the Lord for the provided redemption. Looking at what God did through John we see a work preparing for his generation, but also for every generation The result of this preparing work culminates in knowledge of salvation bringing the forgiveness of sin. Surely through His forgiveness we can see Where Is God At Work. Amen? Amen!