Summary: Christmas/Advent worship series titled “Lesser Known People of Advent.” We are looking at some of the people who played an important role in the first coming of Christ yet we may not have heard that much about them or what they did.

Lesser Know People of Advent Part 1 (Zechariah)

“Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” Luke 1:18

Intro: Today we start a new worship series titled “Lesser Known People of Advent.”

We are going to be looking at some of the people who played an important role in the first coming of Christ

yet you may not have heard that much about them or what they did.

Advent is the season leading up to the coming of Christ.

It is a time of waiting and preparation.

Advent is used to talk about the first coming of Christ at the Nativity.

Advent is also used to talk about the second coming of Christ in the future return.

We are going to begin with a man by the name of Zechariah.

Zechariah is the father of John the Baptist…, who we will talk about in a few weeks.

But let’s look at the back story first.

It had been 400 years since the people of Israel had heard from a prophet.

As a result, things had been upside-down in the nation for far too long.

Israel had long suffered under the corruption and dishonesty of weak Kings.

Kings who had turned the people of Israel away from God.

Israel had suffered under the brutality of the Assyrians and the Babylonians

and then for the past 63 years they had been occupied and oppressed by the ruthless Romans.

In 37, BC, following a failed rebellion, the Romans turned Judea into a Roman province.

Roman installed the Jewish King Herod the Great as administrator.

King is too lofty a title… he was more like a state governor.

Meanwhile, a faithful few held tightly to the promise of a coming deliverer – a Messiah –

who would set Israel free from their oppressors

A Messiah who would be a King like David, and sit on David’s throne.

He would establish a kingdom of righteousness and justice.

The people often would recited the words of Isaiah 9:6-7 “unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…

and the government will be upon his shoulders and his kingdom will never end.”

They held to the hope of the covenant God made with Abraham

that God would deliver them from their gloom and despair and troubles.

But it had been a long time of waiting and hoping.

Not much had been happening except injustice and more oppression

which seemed to have no end in sight.

At the temple in Jerusalem was a priest.

A Jewish priest.

He was very old.

His name was Zechariah.

All his life…, all he had ever known was foreign rule, and oppression.

Because of this he despised the Romans.

Zechariah was married to Elizabeth.

All of Zechariah’s life he had been waiting and praying for three things.

(1) to serve in the temple as Priest. (Where do you serve?)

(2) to be a Father. (Are you growing a stronger family?)

(3) to see the Messiah. (Where do you experience Jesus in your life?)

This week I got a phone call saying because I am a member of Hilton Honors

I qualified for a discount offer for 4 days 3 nights at Hilton Head Island Resort.

It sounded pretty good.

But there was a catch.

I had to attend a two hour offer to purchase a timeshare.

How many of you have gone through a timeshare offer before?

By the time you get ready, go through the sales pitch and travel back to your hotel

It takes a lot longer than two hours.

You might as well mark off the whole day.

You see you reach a certain point when you realize the most valuable thing you can spend is your time.

You never get time back.

Life is shorter than we want to think about.

To serve in the temple as Priest was a great honor.

It was an exclusive community of men

who could trace their descent back to Aaron, Moses' brother and who was the first high priest.

There were probably around 7200 ordinary priest at this time.

There were 24 priestly clans

and each priest would get to spend only one week out of the year serving at the temple in Jerusalem.

One day while on duty Zechariah received an unexpected blessing.

He was chosen to be the priest who would enter the Holy Place to offer incense to God for the people.

This is something Zechariah would have been looking forward to

and he may have waited a long time for this great privilege.

Serving in the church takes on a different meaning in today’s culture.

We know that Jesus taught that all God's people are called to minister to other

And all God's people are sent out in missions to the communities in which they live.

As Charles Spurgeon said, "Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter."

An imposter is a person who pretends to be something

or someone they are not in order to deceive others, especially for fraudulent gain.

As Christians you are called to your duty to join Jesus in the activity and service of God at your conversion.

It is not some subsequent event that happens later in life.

You are called by Jesus to make disciples from the moment you become a disciple yourself.

The only questions are "Where?" and "How?"

Think about all the different ways that we can make a difference.

There is an Old Testament prophecy that I am convinced God intentionally planned .

It says, “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Does anyone know what book and the name of the prophet that said this?

It is found in the Book of Zechariah

as said by the prophet Zechariah

written over 500 years before the New Testament Zechariah.

It tells that the Advent of the King could be recognized

They could identify and would know the Messiah

because one day he would ride into Jerusalem, righteous and victorious, riding in on a donkey.

We know that this is fulfilled when Jesus arrives at Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of the Passover,

For his last time, the week before He is crowned King of the Jews and is crucified.

What most people don’t take the time to think about

is that the donkey Jesus rode in on doesn’t even belong to him.

Jesus rode in on a donkey that was somebody else’s donkey.

When you think about it there is some guy,

We don’t know this guy’s name.

We don’t know what he did for a living.

We don’t know how many donkey’s the guy owned.

This might have been his only donkey

He might have had a thousand donkeys.

But we know that when Jesus needed transportation to fulfill and Old Testament prophecy

There was one unnamed person who said, you can use what I have

To ride into the Triumphant Entry.

His gift made a way for Jesus to come

What I hope you will understand is that God will use whatever you have and whatever you are willing to give

to help bring Jesus into this lost and dying world.

What you do to serve God brings the same life, the same hope, the same love, the same peace,

the same forgiveness that you have received and experienced in your life to others.

Everyone of us are here today because of what someone else did or gave to you

that resulted in you becoming a Christian.

How many of you when you were young majored in sinning?

Some of you are sitting here and you are like me.

I grew up in church, I never caused my parents much trouble and now I have been a pastor for over 30 years.

But if you say you never majored in sin, then it’s because you either didn’t get caught or you are lying.

Because everyone sins.

There is no such thing as a minor sin.

Every sin is the sin that nailed Jesus to Cross.

I have got news for you. Self righteousness is a major sin.

It is when someone thinks they are totally correct or morally superior.

So be careful that you never think you are better than someone else because your sin not less than their sin.

We have all majored in sin.

Some may have committed more acts of sin than others.

Some people give more of their time sinning than others.

Dallas was one of those good kids who went to church

all the way up until he graduated high school and went off the college.

When he went to college he joined a fraternity and got in with some of his frat brothers

One night his buddy called and said he want to show him his new car.

And so him and two other of this fraternity friends pick him up and they went joy riding.

I use the word joy riding, because by the end of the night they had been stopped by the police

and all four of them were arrested for grand theft auto.

Not only that but because the police found marijuana in the car they were facing drug charges.

You see guilty by association refers to the attribution of guilt without any proof on individual

solely for the reason that those whom they associate with are guilty.

Now Dallas was lucky in that the law was somewhat on his side.

And the fact that the person who stole the car and his friend to whom the drugs actually belonged to confessed.

But sometimes it is enough just to be in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people to really ruin your future.

Dallas was suspended from school for one semester.

When he returned to college he had to enroll in a support group.

After he completed the mandatory support group hours.

Dallas had this crazy idea that he would start an on campus bible study.

So, Dallas started telling all his fraternity buddies, hey Tuesday night we going to have a bible study.

They were all like what the “bleep” do you mean bible study.

And who are you to be teaching the bible anyway?

On that Tuesday as Dallas was walking to his early morning Math class,

He realized that he did not have a bible.

He owned one but he left it at home, he had not packed it with him.

Some bible study teacher I am.

I don’t even have a bible.

So, Dallas kinda, you know…, looked up toward heaven…,

And said, “Hello, up there is anyone listening, I don’t have a bible.”

So, he went on to class and was trying to figure out “Where and How” he was going to get a bible.

When Math class was over, on the way out he met a man in a suit and tie.

From an organization known as “The Gideon’s”

And this man said to Dallas young man would you like a free…Bible…

He handed Dallas a green New Testament bible.

You see where the devil will put you in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people.

God will put you in the right place at the right time with the right people.

Especially when everyone is being obedient and doing what God is leading them to do.

Have you ever had one of these God moments.

I bet you have.

You might not even have realized it.

But when you got up this morning.

You made the decision to give this day to the Lord.

God already planned for you to have a God moment here today.

Just like God planned for the Prophet Zechariah to preach 500 years before Jesus birth that the Messiah would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey.

Just like God put in the heart of the unnamed man to give his donkey to Jesus.

Just like God planned for Zechariah to be the priest on duty and that it would be Zechariah’s special day and honor to light the incense on the altar of the holies.

God has a plan for your life.

All of Zechariah’s life he had been waiting and praying for three things.

(1) to serve in the temple as Priest. (Where do you serve?)

Don’t miss out on a single God moment.

Give your time, be open to the will of God.

Go where God leads you to go.

Serve where God is calling you to serve.

If you are not sure where God is leading or calling

Then you should be the first one to come to the alter today and ask God

All you have to do is say, “Hello up there, is anyone listening” and you will find your God moment.

All of Zechariah’s life he had been waiting and praying for three things.

(1) to serve in the temple as Priest. (Where do you serve?)

(2) to be a Father. (Are you growing a stronger family?)

Luke 1:11 says that Zechariah was in the sanctuary, when an angel of the Lord appeared, standing to the right of the incense alter. Zechariah was overwhelmed with fear. But the angel said, Don’t be afraid, Zechariah!

In my bible the punctuation there is an exclamation point.

Meaning it is said with great force and passion.

God knows how scared we are to serve him.

But God will always provide the exclamation point for whatever he is about to do in our life.

God doesn’t call you and send you out to do something without giving you the courage and the tools, like he gave Dallas the bible he needed to teach with.

God will provide you with everything you need.

Just ask Gina Ann, she never taught a bible study class before in her life.

“But talk to anyone who is in the Family Life Group at the parsonage

and I believe they will tell you she is doing and excellent job.”

The angel said to Zechariah your prayer has been heard.

Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.

14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth,

15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.

He is never to take wine or other fermented drink,

and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.

16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.

17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah,

to turn the hearts of the parents to their children

and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

I want you notice that God is very concerned about growing stronger families.

Think about that phrase “to turn the hearts of the parents to their children.”

One of my favor Christmas movies this time of year is Home Alone.

Kevin's fear his neighbor, Old Man Marley, because of rumors about the scary old man’s demeanor.

Kevin goes to sit in a church and ends up meeting a rather friendly Mr. Marley.

Marley explains that the rumors about him aren't true,

but that he does have an estranged relationship with his son

and the only way he can see his granddaughter is by watching her perform in the church choir.

Kevin suggests that Mr. Marley should patch things up with his son

Let’s watch this video clip:

Near the end of the movie we see that Mr. Marley did indeed take the risk to patch things up with his son.

Strong families don’t just happen.

It takes a lot of work, patience, love and many times forgiveness to grow a strong family.

It sure is a lot easier when families worship together.

All of Zechariah’s life he had been waiting and praying for three things.

(1) to serve in the temple as Priest. (Where do you serve?)

(2) to be a Father. (Are you growing a stronger family?)

Are you growing a stronger family?

A family that is ready for the second Advent of Christ.

The people in the bible times were looking for the first Advent of Christ.

We are looking for the second Advent of Christ.

In 1800 William Miller predicted the return of Christ in 1844

All over the Northeast, half a million Adventists awaited for the end of the world on April 3, 1843.

Journalists reportedly some disciples were on mountaintops, hoping for a head start to heaven.

Others were in graveyards, planning to ascend in union with their departed loved ones.

In 1992 Harold Camping predicted the return of Christ,

again nothing happened and he changed his date to 1993 and then 1994.

In 1995, there was a person who announced that the Lord told him that He is coming on October 28.

Later that the leader was imprisoned for embezzlement because he used his employers money for his campaign.

These groups —however misguided— were right about one thing.

God in the person of Christ is coming back someday.

John 14:3 Jesus said,

“When everything is ready I will come back, I will get you so that you will always be with me where I am”

Although the details of eternity are unknown.

Suddenly the message of Advent and Christmas becomes a lot less about the first coming of Jesus at Bethlehem.

And a lot more about Jesus coming the next time when we will spend eternity with Him.

When the Zechariah was told by the angel in Luke 1:13

Zechariah doubted the angels word.

One day this promise will be fulfilled.

Christ is coming back.

Have you ever doubted the message, the Word of God?

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

All of Zechariah’s life he had been waiting and praying for three things.

(1) to serve in the temple as Priest. (Where do you serve?)

(2) to be a Father. (Are you growing a stronger family?)

(3) to see the Messiah. (Where do you experience Jesus in your life?)

Where do you experience Jesus in your life?

2 Corinthians 9:8 says, “God will generously provide all you need.

Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”

Don’t let your lack of faith keep you from experiencing a generous God.

God has promised to provide all that you need.

We all have things that come against us.

It is easy to worry about how thing are going to work out.

What if the medical report isn’t good?

What if my finances don’t get better?

What if my child doesn’t do well in school?

We try to do our best but we don’t see any changes.

We live worried, discouraged, unsure if things will get better in the future.

God I trust your promise, God I trust your timing, God I trust your ways.

God did not promise that we would not have difficulties but he did promise to give us strength for every battle

God is working behind the scenes.

God is in the process of turning it around.

It is just a matter of time before you see things change in your life in your favor.

Zechariah had been waiting a long time to serve as the temple priest.

Zechariah had been waiting a long time to be a father.

Zechariah had been waiting a long time to see the Messiah.

Zechariah had to live out of a place of peace, a place of trust.

So must we also today have to learn how to live by faith, trusting, believing…

It may not happen the way you thought.

God’s ways are better than our ways.

God knows what is best for you.

Zechariah understood this principle.

He waited, patiently, in peace upon the Lord’s promises.

Even though there must have been times he would have been tired.

Even though Zechariah grew older every day he never lost sight of the Advent of the Messiah.

He never lost hope.

Zechariah lived righteously, carefully, obeying the commandments of the Lord.

What you are facing may be bigger, stronger, more powerful

But when you choose to trust and obey God, thanking God that he is fighting your battles

Knowing that He is in control.

You are showing God by your actions that you are trusting Him.

God is not just with you on the mountain tops he is with you in the valleys

He is with you when you are going through things.

He knows what you are up against.

Learn to live in a place of peace.

This is a decision we have to make on a daily basis.

You can choose to live in drama, or you can choose to live in peace.

Don’t spend your time always living in crisis mode.

Learn to turn it over and trust in Jesus.

David Cassidy died this week at age 67 or organ failure.

According to his daughter Katie his final words were, “So much wasted time.”

How much time do we waste not living with gratitude with those we love?

I don’t want to waste another minute, complaining, and grumbling, being unhappy about what I don’t have.

What if we choose to rejoice and give thanks for what we do have?

The poorest of us here today are among the richest in the world.

The problems you have are nothing

compared to those who are truly homeless, and orphaned, and wrongfully imprisoned.

Every day you can find something to worry about

There is some reason to get upset.

Or you can find something to be thankful for.

God is bigger than your problems.

He is stronger than your enemies.

He is arranging for good things to happen in your life.

He is lining up the right people to come into your life.

That kind of faith is what allows God to do amazing things.

Where do you experience Jesus in your life?

It is easy to see Jesus in the miraculous.

But don’t take for granted the Jesus in the ordinary, in the day to day.

I remember seeing Jesus when Mama would sing an old church hymn while cooking dinner in kitchen.

I can see Jesus in a church member who takes food to a family of someone who is sick.

The Lord Jesus doesn’t want to be some distant figure to us whom we worship from afar.

He redeemed us and regenerated us to live in us and be part of our life.

Jesus lives in us, so we can experience Him in our everyday life.

In all matters of our life, big or small.

Lord Jesus, thank You for living in me

and for showing me that using my spirit is the key to experiencing You.

Thank You that I can exercise my spirit by praying.

Lord, thank You for opening my eyes to see that I can experience You

in my everyday life by enjoying Your living presence in my spirit.

Zechariah is one of the Lesser Know People of Advent.

But he played an important role in revealing that God would keep his promise to save the world through Jesus.

We can learn a lot from Zechariah.

(1) to serve in the temple as Priest. (Where do you serve?)

(2) to be a Father. (Are you growing a stronger family?)

(3) to see the Messiah. (Where do you experience Jesus in your life?)

Do you serve God to the best of your ability?

Are you living out the love of Jesus in your marriage, your home, your family?

Are you worried about your children? Stress out over your finances?

Discourage about because of a disappointment?

Thinking it is not going to work out?

Come back to that place of peace and realize that Jesus is part of your everyday life.

He is directing your steps

He is leading you to place where he can bless you. Amen.