Zechariah and Elizabeth

zechariah_elizabeth

Zechariah and Elizabeth were barren; Israel was barren. The childlessness of a godly couple in their old age is mirrored by the spiritual dryness of the of the people of God. Israel had not heard a prophetic voice for centuries. No man living could recall hearing a prophet. Zechariah, an Aaronic priest who is chosen by lot, burns incense at the hour of prayer. It  is then he is met by Gabriel, who announces the birth of a son, who is to be named John. All of his and Elizabeth’s hopes and prayers were answered, although Zechariah cannot believe it. He is struck silent. The reproach upon Israel was soon to be lifted, just as the reproach of childlessness was from Elizabeth.

It may seem odd that Luke spends so much time on the birth story of the forerunner of Christ. It does not seem so odd, however, when the greater story is considered: a priest, of the tribe of Levi is burning incense in the temple, according to the Law, following the centuries-old ceremonies that demand repetition daily. During this temple ministry, a son is promised, but not one who will be a priest like his father. John will be a prophet, in the spirit of Elijah; the first prophet in centuries. Something new is coming.

Note also that John, of the tribe of Levi, will prepare the way for the final High Priest (Hebrews, chapters 5-8), the Saviour, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29). “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Levi gives way to Judah. Someone New has come.

In that same Holy Place in Herod’s great temple, Zechariah receives the first indications that the temple system is not eternal, but shall be declared irrelevant in the Kingdom of God. John will not carry on the temple traditions, but announce a new atoning sacrifice in Christ. Levi gives way to Judah.

In all of Christ’s ministry there is no miraculous sign or event in the temple, until the last day of the temple’s place in God’s economy: “ . . . And the curtain of the temple was torn in two” Luke 23:45. Jesus taught that the temple is to be destroyed. Because of the cross, its purpose is finally complete. It can now serve no other purpose. Limited access to God, restricted to the priesthood, is over. Access now is for “. . .  as many as were appointed to eternal life . . . (Acts 13:48).

The ceremonial Law is now complete, and the old covenant is ratified.

In a ceremony in the Holy Place, the end of the Holy Place is foretold.

Lord’s Day 3: Depravity of Human Nature

Heidelberg Catechism, LORD’S DAY 3

Question 7

Whence then proceeds this depravity of human nature?
From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise; hence our nature is become so corrupt, that we are all conceived and born in sin.

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

Romans 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

Romans 5:19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

See also Genesis 3

Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Genesis 5:3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

Question 8
Are we then so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness?
Indeed we are; except we are regenerated by the Spirit of God.

Genesis 8:21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Genesis 6:5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.

Job 15:14 What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?

Job 15:16 how much less one who is abominable and corrupt, a man who drinks injustice like water!

Job 15:35 They conceive trouble and give birth to evil, and their womb prepares deceit.”

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,

Historic Creeds and Confessions, electronic ed. (Oak Harbor: Lexham Press, 1997).

What a Wonderful Year to be New!

It is a new year, isn’t it!

At Mountain View Christian Church, we are looking forward to growth as individuals, but also as growth as the Body of Christ in this part of the city.

Some points to note:

  1. I will be preaching a series on the book of Ephesians. Check the sermon download page if you want to hear these. The series will run for 17-20 weeks.
  2. Wednesday night Bible study will be a brand-new approach: Salvation’s Symphony. This will be a look at the many words and terms God’s Word uses to illuminate the doctrine of salvation.
  3. We will have a number of “Special Events.” Please click on the link to learn about these.

Seek the Lord, have a great year. Let’s do this together.