Summary: The days for Zechariah and Elizabeth were difficult. Their difficulty was not without purpose. What kind of days are you living in today

Grace Community Church

Winchester, VA

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After a short prelude and salutation to his intended recipient, Theophilus, Luke moves to right into the annunciation of John the Baptist and Jesus the Messiah. We’ll spend some time talking about John the Baptist in a few weeks. For right now we’re in anticipation of their arrival.

How’s life? I’m mean, really: How is life? Andrea and I celebrated 25 years of marriage this past July. I would have never imagined the journey life took us on these past 25 years and I’m looking forward to the next 25. Our life has meandered through ups and downs. Times that were wonderfully joyful mixed with times that were tumultuous and painful.

I can look back on the memories of fun and adventure as a couple. Our travels and pursuits were incredible. However, it was the mountain climbs, the pain, and the struggles that defined us. We are shaped by more by our tears than our laughs. In the midst of all this was an ever-increasing faith.

I don’t know where we would be today if it weren’t our relationship with Christ. What we see in our life is a continued path leading us through His perfect will. The path our Heavenly Father chose for us was not an easy path, nor would it be the path we would have chosen, but I know He’s leading.

This year has been tough, divisive, and unsettling. I know many of you have endured stressful, fearful, and felt the strain of these conflicts that seem to ache our culture politically, racially, and with issues of justice. I don’t think we should minimize the significance of these issues. They’re real and they’re affecting all of us. Our impending election, no matter which side wins, will have a significant effect on our lives.

When life is foggy and difficult, what do you do? How do you respond? Maybe you have found yourself in a fog when you weren’t hearing the Lord speak to your heart and mind. Have you ever felt like your prayers weren’t getting through, or that God was not very close or has forgotten you?

I. God Leads Us Through the Events of the World

Quite a few pastors and scholars breeze past the first 8 words of verse 5, but Luke includes these words for an important reason that we should stop and understand why. Nearly 400 years have passed since Malachi wrote his final words and the Old Testament was shut.

5 Look, I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.” (Mal 4:5-7)

The words of Malachi are both ominous and promising. It’s a reminder that God is preparing the way for our salvation and redemption. We will see next week how important John’s ministry really is as he prepares for the arrival of the Christ

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.” (Luke 1:17)

But God was also at work in the world to make way. God does not waste any time. The 400 years and the Kingship of Herod the Great were critical to the Gospel.

We won’t spend too much time on this, but there were some critical events that needed to take place:

1. After the closing of the Old Testament, an influential leader conquered the land. His name was Alexander the Great. He is why we have a single language - Koine Greek.

2. When Alexander died in 323 BC his kingdom was divided into 4 parts. Israel will fall into the hands of Ptolemy’s and be ruled from Alexandria, Egypt

3. Eventually, the Jews fight for deliverance. During the Maccabean revolt, temple worship is restored in what would come to be known as the Feast of Dedication - Hanukkah

4. The instability of the area will eventually lead to further conquest as General Pompey enters Israel and establishes Roman Rule in 63 BC.

5. In 44 BC Julius Caesar is assassinated

6. In 40 BC Herod the Great is named King of Judea by the Roman Senate.

The history within all of these events is rich and active. There was no silence of God. He was moving the events of the world toward fulfilling His plan of Salvation for you. So when Luke writes, “In the days of Herod...” He is bringing his readers back to a difficult time. Can you imagine opening a book, “In the Days of Adolf Hitler”? That’s what Luke wants his audience to know.

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