Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Pastor's Blog

The Glory of our Lord 12/09/2012
Sermon: December 9, 2012 Second Sunday of Advent

Front Cover: KJV Luke 3:6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Call to Worship: Dear Lord, we praise and thank you for making peace with us through the cross.

Anouncements

Opening Hymn: There is a Redeemer
Praise Song: Do You Hear What I Hear?
Reading: Luke 1:67-79
Praise Song: Emmanuel
Scripture Reading/Prayer/Lord's Prayer/Offertory Prayer: Isaiah 40:1-11
Offertory Hymn:#316 There is Power in the Blood
Sermon Text: Luke 3:1-6
Sermon Title: The Peacemaker
Benediction:
Closing Hymn: # O Bride of Christ, Rejoice


Dear congregation,

Isaiah who lived 700 years before Christ prophesied of the coming of John the Baptizer who was the forerunner of Jesus Christ and who was the last of the Old Testament prophets. John himself recognized that he was not the long awaited Messiah, but He was sent to announce His arrival to those who yet thought in the Old Testament mind set but lived in the beginning of the New Testament era.

John had the privilege of bringing forth the amazing news that the Messiah King was coming, and so therefore he reiterated that which Isaiah had written concerning preparing the way of the Lord and of making his paths straight in preparation for his arrival. Since they had seen the public workers of that day rebuild the roadways whenever their national king came to town, they would have understood that this King who was coming to them now was of extreme importance. He would bring peace to their world, and to their lives.. We today look for peace in our lives......in our world.

Today we are living in between His first Advent and His second and final Advent. He comes in His Word to us today to bring peace into our lives. Let us receive His peace today.....But Lord........................... How do we receive this peace? How does John the Baptizer fit into this whole scheme of things? What was his role?


KJV Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Pastor Orval
Our text today is from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 3:1-6 and our Scripture readings from Luke 1:67-79 and Isaiah 40:1-11. The reading from Luke 1 is the prophesy of Zacharias, John the Baptizer's father, who, after being not able to speak since the day the angel Gabriel appeared unto him, and told him that he and and his wife were going to have a son, gave instructions as to the raising of their son and of his purpose in his life. Let us place the verses here that speak to these important words that God sent to Zacharias through the angel Gabriel.
Note: Because of the two men named John referred to in this writing, I will refer to John the Baptizer in that fashion and to the other John as John in order to differentiate between the two. John was one of the Apostles, wrote the Gosple of John, the Epistles of John and the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

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.
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.
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.
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.

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.
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.
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.

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.

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.
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.

It is good to read the entire first chapter of Luke in order to get the whole account in sequence of the beginnings of the ministry of John the Baptizer, so that one will not miss the significance of verses 13-17 which point to the purpose of the life of thi,s the last prophet of the Old Testament. John's father knew the purpose of his son's life, and John the Baptizer himself at some point in his life was told by God of his life's mission:

John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

Now as we look at the outburst of praise that came from John the Baptizer's father, Zacharias, we will see that the knowledge of God and His purposes came flowing out of Zacharias heart and mouth as he blessed God. And by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit meaning was given to the words and promises of God that were recorded in the Old Testament as they related to the life of his newborn son, John.


Wow.........Zacharias and Elizabeth had been childless for years, they were past the childbearing years, but their prayers were still going up to God. It is not known as to what their prayers were for, but nevertheless the answer was that they would have a child, at the altar they were told of his life's purpose by the angel Gabriel and now they were given more details about his life and purpose.

How could one imagine the meditations that Zacharias had had during the at least nine months of silence during which he was only able to write and listen, but not to speak. For he knew the Scriptures, for one who performed the service of the Lord in the daily sacrifices was required to have that knowledge. Even though he had now finished his service and had returned home, there must have been many beautiful and sweet hours of meditition upon that which the angel Gabriel had told him that day in the temple..........During the months that he waited for his son to be born and as he watched his dear wife Elizabeth care for their son while yet inside her womb, there must have been a lot of praise that flowed from their hearts toward God, of which Zacharias could only write about.

Now his son has been born....and as they bring him to be circumcise him, to mark him for the Lord, to identify him as one of the Lord's.......

Luke 1:57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.
58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.
59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.
60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.
61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.
62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.
63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.
64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.
65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.
66 And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.

.......And the dam of words that have been pent up are unleashed from the mouth of Zacharias. It is like dam that breaks after a reservoir has been filled up to its maximum, the dam breaks and the waters flow rapidly down the channel........

Luke 1: 67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of 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 thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Zacharias in his prayer of praise and thanksgiving speaks to the Lord of His purposes for his people and to his so,n he speaks of the Lord's purposes for his life. He points the the reality that his son is does not belong to him and his wife, but that he belongs to the Lord, for he will be called a prophet of the Highest: He will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways. Zacharias is then given to understand and to explain what this preparation is. Let us take note of how Zacharias includes himself in this promise and fulfillment, by saying "us" in his prayer of praise. Wow........

Knowledge will be given of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins through the tender mercy of our God.

This will be done by the dayspring (Messiah) from on high who has visited us in order to give light to that that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

So that our feet will be guided into the way of peace.

Again, wow.......the end of all this is peace. How we long to live in peace with ourselves, with God and with our fellow human beings..........Oh Lord, show us how.....Guide us into the way of peace...

Now let us go back further in time, for what we have considered so far is from the New Testament records. Let us go back 700+ years before the events that we have been discussing in this writing in order to see the biblical record of that which the faith of Zacharias was built upon. The prophets had written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but did not understand of that which was to come.

Luke 10:23 And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see:
24 For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.


1 Peter 1:10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

It has been said that the Old Testament could be described as unfulfilled prophecies, unexplained ceremonies and unsatisfied longings. As they preached the Word of the Lord, as they daily and yearly performed that which the Lord had commanded them to do, and as they tried to understand the ways of the Lord, they must have had a sense that there was something greater to come. Something greater than the ritual sacrifices, the washings, the yearly festivals that were in Jerusalem.......there was a sense of unfinished business......but what was it.........

Where would we be if we only had the Old Testament? Where I used to live in the Portland, Oregon area, there is a portion of the Markham Bridge which spans Willamette river that has a beginning but no end, for the road that was originally designed to be built from that portion of the bridge never was built. It is like a road to nowhere. The Messianic promises in the Old Testament are fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus the Christ in the New Testament.

We turn to the book of Isaiah, which is referred to in our text today, and in which the promise of the coming of a "voice" is given. There is no mention of a name, but only a "voice," and it is a "voice" from the wilderness.. Let us read the first 11 verses of Isaiah 40, the book which is written to those who are living in captivity which was as a result of their turning from God to idols. They hear good news, they hear that preparations are to be made for the coming of royalty. But what kind of royalty? What kind of relief will be brought to them?



KJV Isaiah 40:1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
2 Speak ye comfortably (to their heart) to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins.
3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:
7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.
8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

This prophecy of John the Baptizer, who is described as a "voice" in Isaiah, is verified by the Gospel writers: Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:2-3 ;and Luke 3:1-6.

The first eleven verses could be separated in three portions: The glorious coming of God in Christ for the forgiveness of sins of the world; the contrast between passing humanity and the eternal weight of the glory of the Lord; the immensity of the importance of the proclamation that is worthy to be shouted out to all humanity, from the highest mountain possible!! "Behold your God!"

Verses 11 and 12 perhaps puzzled them as in verse 11 the sense of a conquering Lord God is given, while in verse 12 the sense of a humble servant is given. Having the New Testament we are able to understand how this is after the fact, but these people would have been yet peering into the future after hearing these words wondering what they really meant. But what they must have understood is that their God was releasing them from captivity in a natural sense and that things were going to be better in the future. They would not have understood that this proclamation was going to apply to all mankind through the promised Messiah and Saviour, Jesus Christ. They would not have seen that this "voice" would be heard over 700 years later when a man who dressed like an Old Testament prophet like Elijah would have come out of the wilderness to shout the same words to all of the world, but he would give more precise meaning to them. Let us see what that "voice" did say some 700 years later.......


KJV Luke 3:1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,
2 Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;
4 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;
6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

There were rulers and politicians in those days also, but the word of God did not come to them...It came to John the Baptizer, the son of Zacharias. Let us note that, the word of God came to John, who had been chosen by God for the task of being His "voice." It has been 400 years since a prophet had been heard. The last prophet until John the Baptizer had spoken of the coming of the "voice" from the wilderness in his book:

Malachi 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.

Do those words sound familiar? They should, for they are words that were told to Zacharias by the altar by the angel Gabriel concerning the life of his son, John the Baptizer.

Luke 1:16 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.

Now he had arrived, the great and notable day of the Lord had arrived... John the Baptizer was the "voice' who was given the privilege to tell the world to prepare the coming of God into this world.

Isaiah saw that day as through a glass darkly.....but he believed God as one who fulfills His promises.....

Isaiah 40:9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

John saw His God, as the One who takes away the sin of the world and he told others about Him.

29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.

John 1:35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;
36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

Pilate saw him as a man, yet testified as to His Kingship, but did not understand the nature of His Kingship.

John 19:5 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!
6 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.
7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
8 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid;
9 And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.
10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?
11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
12 And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.
13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.
14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!
15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.
16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.

We note that John the Baptizer spoke more clearly of the Lord when he brought forth the message from Isaiah's prophecy. Let us compare the two places.
Isaiah 40: 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
Luke 3:6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

John the Baptizer was given to see that the glory of the Lord was to show mercy to all of humankind for the forgiveness of our sins. This is the salvation that was prophesied of, this is the Lord who was prophesied to come, this is the One who Isaiah and John both announced and called upon all to welcome Him into the world by paying the honor to Him by making a highway on which He could come. If they filled in the low spots, cut down the hills, straightened out the curves and the rough spots of the road when an earthly king came to town, how much more so for the Saviour of the world coming into this world should a highway be prepared!!!!

Isaiah spoke of this in a similar fashion in the 35th chapter of his book...

KJV Isaiah 35:1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.
3 Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
7 And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
9 No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:
10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

The glory of the Lord is to forgive sins. That which had been seen dimly through the years became clear to see when He was lifted up on the cross. John 8:28

We are the ransomed of the Lord, we have been returned to Him, therefore we come together with His people with songs and everlasting joy in our hearts and souls. We have obtained joy and gladness and sorrowing and sighing have gone away. For that which was promised in the Old Testament has been fulfilled in Christ in the New Testament. The highway that appeared to be a highway to nowhere has been bridged by the cross of Christ by which we have been reunited to our God by faith. He has bridged the chasm that stood between His righteousness and our sin. He became sin for us, He who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

I lived near the Columbia River on the Washington side in my youth and when one would travel to the Oregon side, one took the ferry across the 4 miles of the river. In the 1960's a bridge was built from Washington to Oregon which was initially called the "the bridge to nowhere." But it did not take long for the public to take advantage of the "bridge to nowhere," and those who were negative about building of this bridge were proved wrong in their predictions of its future. Now it is a much utilized bridge which was paid off far earlier than predicted and many travel across the bridge in a daily commute.

God has called throughout the ages:

Matthew 11: 28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

John the Baptizer was the "voice," that cried out the good news of the Christ to come, he labored a few short months after coming out of the wilderness, retreated into the background and eventually was killed for preaching repentance. He did that which he was ordained to do, was taken away by the Lord and now awaits the second coming of Christ along with us. The Voice continues today to speak through those who are partakers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Make way for the Saviour today.

May we bow before our King today in praise, in thanksgiving and in worship........

1. O Bride of Christ, rejoice!
Exultant raise thy voice
To hail the day of glory,
Foretold in sacred story.
Refrain
Hosanna, praise and glory,
Our King, we bow before Thee.
2. Let shouts of gladness rise
Triumphant to the skies.
Here comes the King most glorious
To reign o’er all victorious. Refrain
3. He wears no kingly crown
Yet as a king He’s known;
Though not arrayed in splendor,
He still makes death surrender. Refrain
4. Thy heart now open wide,
Bid Christ with thee abide;
He graciously will hear thee,
And be forever near thee. Refrain
5. E’en babes with one accord
With thee shall praise the Lord,
And every gentile nation
Respond with exultation. Refrain

May He be glorified today in our lives as we rejoice in the forgiveness of our sins through Him......and therefore, we live in peace today....

Pastor Orval Wirkkala


Posted on 09 Dec 2012 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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John the Voice 12.17.2017
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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