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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Help is on the Way 12/7/2104
Dear friend,

There are times when we are asked to put our technology devices on silent so they will not distrurb and distract others and at times we forget to put the ringer or vibration effect back on. So that when someone tries to call us, we do not hear them since our phone is still on silent. That can be frustrating to both the caller and the one whom is being called.

There are times in our lives when we do not hear from our God, sometimes it is because He is silent but also there are times when we have our lives, so to speak, on silent making it not possible to hear Him when He calls. Sometimes we interrupt Him when He is speaking to us, with either words or even with doubt or unbelief.

God has been silent for long periods of time in the past.. He was seemingly silent in the life of Joseph, but He was with Joseph during those times according to the Scripture. He was silent during the time just preceding the coming of Christ. Let us never be confused by thinking that He is not working when He is silent, for He is always working to reveal His grace to us and to others. His timing is not our timing.

As we listen to this message today, may the Holy Spirit minister His Word to us as we reflect on the concept of being able to hear the Lord when He speaks to us.

May we be given the faith to trust Him in those times when He is on "Silent Mode."

May we have our lives in a "hearing mode" and not on "silent mode."

Between the OT and the NT, there was 400 years of silence from God to His people, who were awaiting the fulfillment of His Promise to send them salvation through the Messiah. Throughout the 400 years of silence, undoubtedly there was much discouragement at His silence, and like anyone else, they most likely wondered where God was. Where was the promise of His coming? Where is the One who would bring them deliverance from slavery?

Four hundred years earlier, the Prophet Micah had written concerning the coming of the forerunner of Jesus, John the Baptist, who would come in the spirit of Elijah the prophet, who was a preacher of righteousness. He would restore the hearts of the fathers to their children.

“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, (Mal. 4:5-6).

The events of the early chapters of Luke’s gospel shatter a silence which has lasted for 400 years. He commences his gospel with the angelic announcement of Gabriel to Zacharias, an elderly priest, that he and his wife will have a son, a son who will come in the spirit of Elijah the prophet, and who will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and will prepare the way of the Lord.

Our text is from the 3rd Gospel, the Gospel of Luke, who was a physician and who used eyewitnesses to give an account of the life and ministry of Jesus, beginning with the announcement of the birth and life of John the Baptist. In the succeeding sermons we will continue with the account of the announcement of Jesus's birth, of the birth of John the Baptist and on Christmas Day, the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. These are all recorded in the Gospel of Luke, in the first two chapters.

Our text begins....

KJV Luke 1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. (catechized)

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.

There were many priests in those days and thus the priestly duties were allocated according to divisions of priests (cf. 1 Chronicles 24). When it came time for the order of Abijah’s division (cf. vv. 5, 8) to perform the temple duties, Zacharias went to Jerusalem.10 There, he was chosen for the very high privilege of burning the incense, which he would have done either in the morning or the evening. This was such a high privilege it could be done by a priest only once in a lifetime. It was a very coveted task.11

One can only imagine the feelings which Zacharias must have experienced the evening before his duty was performed. On the one hand, he must have rejoiced in the high privilege which was his, which he had hoped for all his life. On the other hand, he must have reflected on Leviticus chapter 10, which records the death of Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons, for carrying out this ritual in a wrong manner. Thus, there were the mixed feelings of rejoicing and fear. He probably carefully rehearsed in his mind exactly how he would perform his duty, so that he would emerge from the holy place alive.

On the day of his duty, Zacharias went into the holy place, where he was to burn the incense. Meanwhile, outside a crowd assembled for prayer. It would seem that the prayers of the people were both for the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people, that is for the coming of the King and the establishment of Messiah’s kingdom. Included as well, perhaps, were prayers for the safety of Zacharias, as the dangers of his duty were well known.

Can you imagine the sense of awe and wonder Zacharias must have felt as he entered into the semi-darkness of the holy place, illuminated only by the light of the lampstand?

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.

Zacharias (God Remembers) Elizabeth (God of the oath) John (God is a gracious Giver)

As a priest, Zacharias would be praying the ordered prayers which were according to the promises of God and would not be for his and his wife's personal happiness and satisfaction. Of course, that would be a fruit of their prayers, but the focus would be on God's purposes for Israel and its people.

Now He was speaking to Zacharias (God Remembers) he and his wife were being given a son, and His name was to be John. Wow, was God granting them favor, for He was even giving them the name for their son. But not only the name, joy would be great and many would rejoice at his birth. But there was more, much more..

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.

But then there was much more information given to Zacharias, (God Remembers) as the angel began to reveal that their son John was to be great in the sight of the Lord, They were given instructions as to how to raise him for the Lord's purposes, and they were told of the effect of his life upon the children of Israel. That he would go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, all in order to prepare them for the Lord, for the Promised One, for the Messiah. Wow! Wow!

At this great announcement of being given the privilege to raise their son for the Lord's purposes, God Remembers asked a question and made a statement.

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.

He asked for a sign and looked in a human way at the impossibility of he and his wfe having a child in their old age. One can really appreciate the humanness of Zacharias as he simply looked at the natural way that things have always worked, and even though as a priest he knew the miracle that had happened in the conception and birth of Abraham and Sarah's son Isaac, he asked for a sign from His angelic messenger. Gabriel shared with God's vessel that He had chosen to use and reiterated to him that it is God who sent me to bring these glad tidings to you.

He asked for a sign and he was given a sign: He would not be able to speak until the day of the fulfillment of the angel's words. He was going to have a lot of opportunity to hear for the next nine months.
He remained speechless and that was for at least nine months that he was speechless. Was he speechless as a gift from God so that he would not say something foolish when he emerged? Was it God's way of creating a listening attitude in Zacharias? Was he now really on "hearing mode? Was it so that he would learn that God can only work when we come to the end of our human possibilities? What would be the effect on you and I if we were not able to speak for nine months?

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.

As the people waited outside for Zacharias to emerge, perhaps their fears begin to mount, perhaps they discussed among themselves of what had happened to him. There would be some among that would be negatively speaking, but there also would be those who would be hopeful, living in the Promise of His coming.

Where would you and I have been on that day? Where are we today when we are waiting for a word from the Lord? Are we losing heart, thinking that He is on 'silent mode', or are we waiting patiently, carrying on our lives faifhfully following Him and His teachings, and in so doing "listening for His voice?"

When the priest emerged from the temple, he was to pronounce a
blessing on the people.

But then, he appears, and lo, he could not speak. Our text tells us that they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple. At that they must
have let out a shout of joy, for their God who had been on "silent mode" for 400 years now had spoken to them. He was off of "silent mode."
What Zacharias could have announced with his tongue, God announced through his not being able to speak.

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.

There was not only the stigma of Elizabeth taken away through the birth of their son, but much more the stigma of the people of God having their God on "silent mode" was taken away through His voice being spoken to Zacharias in the temple.

Now the Promise was going to be revealed and they were to prepare for His coming, so that they might receive Him. They got much more than a son to rejoice in, for through their son not only would they rejoice, but many many more would rejoice in the blessing that the Messiah would bring.

How they must have rejoiced in the knowledge of their God who was going to come to them according to His promise so that they might have the forgiveness of their sins.

How their hearts must have overflowed with thankfulness and joy to be chosen of God to be a vessel who would care for the one who would precede the coming of the Messiah!!!

How is it with us during this Advent season as we reflect on His first coming? Have we grown weary with the darkness around us, in us and before us thinking the God is on 'silent mode" in our world and that evil is winning? In our personal lives have we grown weary?

May the names of Zacharias, Elizabeth and John cheer us today. God Remembers, God of the Oath, and God is a Gracious Giver.

Just as He remembered in His time to bring the hope and joy of salvation to Zacharias and Elizabeth and the people of Israel, He is working to bring the same to you and I. He is not on "silent mode' but He is on "hearing mode" May we be on "hearing mode" as we continue to trust Him in the dark passages of this world and in our lives so that we will stay grounded in His promises and not fall victim to being discouraged by our present circumstances.

Dear friend, He hears you and I always, may we call upon Him in our time of need.

May we truly believe that "Help is on the Way!"

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 07 Dec 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Cross of Christ 2.25.2018
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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*Wendy and Dan Salo: Strength & courage to trust Him w/her health concerns