Banking on the Promises of God

Posted: May 15, 2016 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 1:57-80, “Banking on the Promises of God”

Promises can be funny things.  Some promises sound nice, but fall flat.  Some promises aren’t worth the air that was used to speak them, or the paper used to write them.  (We see a lot of this during election years!)  Other promises are so solid, we can take them to the bank.  The very term “promissory note” refers to a signed and sworn document promising to pay someone a certain amount of money – something that is payable via a bank on demand.  US Currency bills (from $1 on up) are technically Federal Reserve Notes…promissory notes.  These are guarantees of payment.  Those, you can definitely take to the bank!

Few promises seem as solid as that.  But even the value of US Currency fluctuates with the ups/downs of the economy.  $1 today isn’t anywhere close to the same value as $1 in 1930.  Is there any promise that remains the same?  Yes: the promises of God.  When God makes a promise, He keeps it…no matter what.  There is no promise proclaimed by God in the pages of Scripture that He either has not, or will not, keep to the absolute letter.  The promises of God are far more certain than Federal currency…bank on it.

As we look at the events surrounding the birth of John the Baptist, it is God’s faithfulness to His promises that is most in view.  When Elizabeth gives birth, it was due to God’s promise.  When John’s parents firmly proclaim his name, it is due to God’s promise.  When Zacharias sings his song of praise, he sings out over the promises of God.  God’s promises are worth rejoicing over!

Before we get there, we need to back up a bit.  In Luke’s account of the gospel, he has tended to alternate between the histories of John the Baptist & that of Jesus.  Obviously the gospel is primarily about Christ, but John, as the herald/forerunner of the Christ played an essential role in it all.

We were first introduced to this in Luke 1:5, when Zacharias the priest is shown ministering in the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem.  There, he receives a vision and a message from the angel Gabriel concerning his son yet to be born.  This boy was to be named John (1:13), and he would serve in the role of Elijah, preparing the people of Israel to receive their Messiah.  Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth had been childless for many long years, and Zacharias was skeptical regarding the news, and asked for a sign (in addition to the angel standing right in front of him).  He asked, and he got it…his sign would be disciplinary as Zacharias was struck mute until the day all these things came to pass (1:20).  Zacharias must have believed a bit, because his wife Elizabeth soon conceived, and she knew the future that was in store for her son.  (Apparently, she was silently informed about all these things from her husband.)

Luke’s narrative took a bit of a break from John’s family to look directly at the family of Jesus.  Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of the Incarnate Messiah, and she believed Gabriel at his word, though she didn’t understand how it was all supposed to happen.  After a brief explanation, Gabriel told her of another miraculous pregnancy, and it was within her own family: Elizabeth.  Mary went to go see Elizabeth for herself, and the unborn John leapt within his mother’s womb.  Already this baby was serving as a prophet & herald, even while in-utero.  Elizabeth verified the witness of her son, and Mary sang a wonderful song of praise to God (also about the faithfulness of His promises).

That all brings us to vs. 57.  There are two main sections to our text: the narrative concerning John’s birth/naming, and the psalm spoken by Zacharias in response.  Basically we first see the faithfulness of God and His servants, and then His servants sing out praises to God for His promises.  God is faithful.  Always.  There is never a promise He makes that He does not keep.  Bank on it.

Luke 1:57–80

  • God’s faithfulness, re: John (57-58)

57 Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. 58 When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

  • That God is faithful to His promises is already seen in the 1st verse.  Elizabeth “brought forth a son.”  This is exactly what the angel Gabriel said she would do.  At her advanced age (whatever it was – we’re not told, except that they were “well-advanced in years,” 1:7), Elizabeth not only conceived, but she carried her baby to term, and this baby was a male.  Thus far for Zacharias and Elizabeth, God’s track record had proved 100% correct.
    • It always does!  One of God’s fundamental characteristics is that He tells the truth.  God personally declares that He’s “not a man, that should lie,” (Num 23:19), and Paul affirms that lying is one of the only things that God “cannot” do (Tts 1:2).  It’s not that God is anything less than omnipotent – but even an all-powerful being cannot go against His basic character and nature.  God is truthful, simply because that is what He is.  Jesus went so far as to call Himself the truth (John 14:6).  He is the embodiment of truth because He is God of true God.
    • Have faith in the promises of God!  There is nothing that the Bible proclaims that God does not fulfill.  Christians who ask for wisdom in unwavering faith can know that God will give it (Jas 1:5) – Christians who give their anxieties to the Lord can know that God will give the peace that passes understanding (Phil 4:6-7) – those who confess their sins to God through faith in Jesus Christ can know that He forgives us and cleanses us (1 Jn 1:9) – those who confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord and that He is risen from the dead can know that they will be saved (Rom 10:9)…and that’s just the beginning!  God always keeps His word!
    • What have you had trouble lately, with believing God?  What promises of His have you doubted?  God keeps His word on the big & the small.  Trust Him – have faith!  Act out proactively according to what the Scripture promises, and watch God work!
  • So Elizabeth conceived, was pregnant, and gave birth.  No wonder that people “rejoiced with her!”  Babies are always reasons to rejoice, but Elizabeth’s friends & family knew exactly what it was that she had endured for many long years, and this was an extra special birthday.  Ultimately, even they knew that her pregnancy and child was not simply the result of time & biology, but that it had been by the “great mercy” of God.  Their joy was not only over the strapping baby boy, but over the faithfulness and goodness of God.
    • So God was faithful…what about the people who were the recipients of His faithfulness?  Would they continue to trust God’s promises even as they held the baby in their arms?  Vs. 59…
  • Zacharias’ & Elizabeth’s faithfulness, re: John’s name (59-64)

59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. 60 His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.”

  • A bit of neighborly debate stirs up over the baby’s name.  Why Zacharias and Elizabeth waited 8 days to name their child is unknown.  Perhaps they knew that is when they would have the most witnesses.  Circumcision for male children was commanded to take place on the 8th day, according to the law of Moses (Lev 12:3), and the procedure went back even further to the covenant of Abraham (Gen 17:12).  The Hebrews had two signs of their covenant with God: the Sabbath (Exo 31:16, which was outwardly seen by others), and circumcision (which was, other that in infancy, was seen only by the individual).  These two things set them apart from the nations around them.  The Sabbath was the sign that they trusted God as their provider, knowing that He would feed them 7 days a week, even as they worked only 6.  God was their God, and He would always take care of them.  (For Christians, we keep the Sabbath when we trust in Christ as our Savior and Lord.  We do not work to earn our salvation, but we rest in the finished work of Jesus.  He is our Sabbath!)  Circumcision, on the other hand, was a sign of their spiritual dedication to the Lord.  The physical flesh of man was cut away, ultimately as a symbol that they had cut away the flesh of their heart.  God had called His people to be circumcised in their heart (Dt 10:16), not following after the things of the world with their fleshly lusts, but to be dedicated to God, giving Him praise.  In any case, this was commanded for all Hebrew males on the 8th day, and the Brit Milah (מִילָה בְּרִית) among Jews is still an event in which friends and family gather to witness the ritual, to celebrate both the promises of God & the inclusion of the new baby into the covenant community.  This is why people had gathered at the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth, and set the scene for the dustup.
  • If circumcision was done according to the law, naming was done according to tradition.  Obviously, there was great freedom among the Jews in what they would name their children, but certain cultural traditions developed over time & the neighbors simply assumed that the babe would be named after his father.  Babies then (like today) were often named in such a way as to honor family members, and the people could see no other man in this family more worthy of such an honor as Zacharias.  He had always been an upright man who worshipped God (1:6), but he had also seen an angelic vision.  Surely Elizabeth would name her child after her husband, right?  Wrong.  Elizabeth shocked the room when she announced “No; he shall be called John.
  • What was going on?  Elizabeth was showing herself faithful to God.  No doubt this was something discussed by her & Zacharias long before, and their minds were set to follow through on everything the Lord had given them through the angel Gabriel.  Zacharias was only told once, but once was enough: “your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John,” (1:13).  God had been good to His promise, now it was their turn.  Would they be obedient to follow through on what the Lord had given them?  Yes!  How could they turn their backs upon God now?
    • Yet we do, don’t we?  So often we’ll cry out to God in prayer, receive the blessing of His faithfulness, and then so soon forget Him after He answers.  Like the lepers cleansed by Jesus, only one out of ten returned to Christ to give Him thanks (Lk 17:17), so do we so quickly neglect to follow through on our own response of faithfulness and worship to God.  Be careful!  Be mindful.  When God acts, respond!  Give Him thanks & praise – be mindfully obedient through the power of the Holy Spirit.  He deserves no less.

61 But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” 62 So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called.

  • People can be annoying, but this is annoying on a couple of levels.  First, they thought they had any right to insert themselves into the act of naming the child.  God bless our neighbors, friends, and family…but at the end of the day, they are still just are our neighbors, friends, and family.  Parents have the right to name their children, and they alone.  Granted, we might not appreciate the name (sometimes it’s downright weird, such as what is seen among some celebrities), but that’s a decision for them & no one else.  In this case, many of those attending were probably men, and they probably thought they could overrule the voice of the woman by appealing to her husband – not only being culturally chauvinistic, but sticking their nose where it didn’t belong.
  • Second, “they made signs” to Zacharias.  He was mute; not deaf.  Although some study bibles say that Zacharias must have been deaf in addition to being mute (and the word could technically apply to both conditions), Gabriel specifically told Zacharias that he would be unable to speak (1:20); he said nothing about the priest being unable to hear.  Yet people treated him like he was deaf anyway.  It’s like when people think that if they speak English loud and slow that someone who speaks a foreign language will somehow magically be able to understand them. 🙂  Zacharias probably had this happen for the past 9 months, and no doubt he was sick of it.  That said, he still spoke up (as much was possible)…

63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God.

  • Using what was likely a wax tablet that could be smoothed out every time he wanted to write something new, Zacharias affirmed the name spoken by his wife: “His name is John.”  This was not up for debate – this was something decided between the two of them based on a direct command from God.  Zacharias didn’t waver on this, didn’t merely suggest the name, didn’t vacillate, apologize, or try to explain it away.  The name of his son was John, and this was not something up for debate or negotiation.
    • One of the benefits of making up your mind in advance to obey God is that when push comes to shove, you don’t have to get caught up in the emotions or pull of the moment.  You know what you’re going to do, because you’ve already decided to do it.  For instance, if you start your day asking for someone to share Jesus with, and you set out to do it, then you’re more naturally going to be looking for opportunities to witness.  If you’ve made up your mind to be faithful to your spouse, no matter what, then it doesn’t matter who pops in front of your eyes, you’re not going to waver.  Zacharias had determined to follow his God, and he was going to do it.  He and his wife were in full agreement, and it didn’t matter what others thought, this was what they were doing.
  • And what happened?  The people “marveled.”  What makes their marvel so intriguing is that they marveled before Zacharias received his ability to speak.  No doubt they would be amazed as Zacharias immediately opened his mouth to praise God for the 1st time in over 9 months, but first they marveled at his commitment.  Whether or not they knew all of the details of what he was told by the angel Gabriel, we don’t know – we do know that they were amazed at his steadfastness. 
    • People will always take note of a man or woman fully dedicated to the Lord Jesus.  They might not like it, but they won’t be able to deny it.  Many times they will marvel, being amazed at our commitment to the Lord.  Why?  Because it’s something that cannot be denied, and it’s (sadly) far too rare.  The streets are full of Christian hypocrites, claiming they follow Jesus as their King, but living just like everyone else in the world.  It is rare to find someone who truly lives out what they believe – where their actions are a direct reflection of their confession of faith.  That’s something the of which the world takes note.
  • What would have amazed the people even more was when Zacharias’ silence was finally broken as he praised God.  What was it he said?  Probably the psalm starting in vs. 68.  The very fact that he could speak was divine affirmation of his obedience.  It was obvious when his voice was taken away by the hand of God, and now it was obvious as God returned it.  Zacharias’ period of discipline was over, and he could now praise the Lord.
  • The effect on the people (65-66)

65 Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. 66 And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.

  • The people didn’t merely marvel; they feared.  Luke doesn’t describe it any more than that, but this would seem to be a reference to the same sort of fear we’re supposed to have for the Lord.  Obviously they were not afraid of Zacharias, nor of John, but they definitely would have had a newfound respect and reverence for God.  They were themselves witnesses of the power of God in action, having seen God rise up in response to the obedience of Zacharias and Elizabeth.  Again, true sincere faithfulness on the part of believers is something that cannot be ignored!
  • What else did the people do?  They kept watch as they pondered the future for this child.  Once they knew that God had given this boy according to His promise, they knew God would have something special in store for him.  No doubt Zacharias would have been able to more fully explain the vision he had received regarding John’s future, and even the song he sang spoke of John’s role as the Messianic forerunner.  With the coming of the forerunner was the coming of the Messiah soon after.  This was someone whom the people needed to watch – and watch him they did.
    • BTW – it’s a good reminder to us that once people know we follow the Lord, they’re going to watch us to see what we do.  If we were faithfully obedient once, how will we continue to act?  Will we be consistent?  Witnessing to others of Jesus is not a one-time event.  Our lives will continue to testify of our faith long after our conversation ends.
  • The song of Zacharias: Benedictus.  Background (67)

67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:

  • Please note this is the same thing that happened with Elizabeth when Mary arrived for her visit (1:41).  This is again indicative of the Old Testament dispensation when the Holy Spirit would come upon individuals for a time, temporarily empowering them to do the work of God, or prophesy in His name.  Today, we have a slightly different relationship with the Spirit.  Yes, we too can repeatedly be filled with Him for power, but we have His constant abiding presence with us as a result of Him giving us a new birth.
  • In Zacharias’ case, the Holy Spirit made him a psalmist, and he spoke/sang one of the most beautiful songs of the New Testament.
  • God’s promise (68-75)

68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, 69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David,

  • Zacharias’ song starts with his praise for God.  God is “blessed.”  He Himself is well-spoken of, and He (of all) has the most reason to be well-spoken of!  Especially by His people.  When the men and women of the earth praise God, it is a rare thing – but for His own people, it ought to be normal.  The men and women of God ought to give Him praise & proclaim His blessing.  Here, He is described as “the Lord God of Israel” – as a Jew, Zacharias most naturally blesses the Lord of the Jews, knowing that God at the time was acting in accordance with His covenant promises.  Of course, He is still the Lord God of Israel, even if Israel does not properly worship or recognize Him.  One day they will again see God as God, when they see Jesus as His Son.  Until that day, they may be unfaithful to God, but God will always be faithful to them.  (As demonstrated by their very existence!)
  • Look at what the Lord God of Israel had done: “visited…redeemed…raised up a horn of salvation.”  What do all of those descriptions have in common?  They are all past-tense.  Technically, they are aorist tense in Greek, which is typically translated as past-tense in English, but the idea is clear: God had already worked.  John had barely been born, and Jesus was still in the womb, yet this was something already accomplished by God.  The plan of God concerning the Messiah was currently ongoing, but its results could already be verified.  The fact that God had begun it meant that it was as good as done.  Why?  Because it was God doing it!  What God starts, He always completes.  What God declares is gold – it is already finished.
  • What was it He did?  Break it down:
    • He has visited”: the word has the idea of watching over/seeing.  God paid attention to His people.  He did not forget His promise to send a Messiah.  His eye was ever upon them, and He fulfilled His promise right on time.
    • He has…redeemed”: Technically, this should be translated “He performed / accomplished redemption,” in that redemption here is a noun, with a helping verb.  Either way, the idea is clear.  Redemption is an exchange, and God made a grand exchange for His people.  They (we) had sinned, selling themselves into slavery.  God purchased them out of slavery with the blood of His only begotten Son.  Our redemption – our liberation – our freedom is in Christ Jesus.
    • He has…raised up a horn of salvation”: In OT imagery, horns are symbolic of power.  Jesus has the power to save.  He has the inherent right to save.  He has the authority to save, because He alone is the Son of God.
  • Of course, Jesus is not only the Son of God, but also the son of David.  Zacharias notes that the Messiah (as the horn of salvation) was to be raised up specifically in David’s lineage, “in the house of His servant.”  From Mary’s song, we learned that the word she used for God’s “servant Israel” (1:54) is a word that could refer to either a child or a servant – a special beloved servant, so to speak.  Here, Zacharias uses exactly the same word.  David was beloved by God, specifically chosen by Him to lavish His grace upon by giving him the promise of Jesus.  (And we are the beneficiaries of that lavish love!)

70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began,

  • The wording is rather awkward (and assumed) in the KJV/NKJV.  ESV & NASB have it better translated, along the lines of “Just as He spoke through the mouth of His holy prophets from old.”  The idea is consistency; not necessarily creation.  Yes, Jesus was promised from Genesis 3 onward, but that’s not what Zacharias was talking about.  God’s prophets have consistently pointed to the promise of God’s Messiah – of the horn of salvation & Redeemer that would be raised up on behalf of Israel & all the world.  It was a new covenant & dispensation, but it wasn’t a new promise – not by a long shot! 
  • What was the promise?  Salvation & deliverance – Vs. 71…

71 That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:

  • To the Hebrews, God promised a literal kingdom.  They would truly be delivered from their enemies that always historically surrounded them (and still do, to this day).  The nations around Israel have always hated them & have wanted to push them into the sea, and Israel has always had to fight in their defense.  Part of what Messianic promise means to them is an everlasting peace.  And it is coming!  King Jesus will one day sit upon the throne in Jerusalem, and the people of Israel will never again need to worry about rockets, suicide bombers, or anything else.  They will be fully protected.
    • The physical aspect of this promise is still yet to be fulfilled, but the spiritual aspect of this is already underway in the lives of born-again Christians.  Even today, we are part of the kingdom of Christ, and Jesus has indeed delivered us from our enemies.  The greatest (and last) enemy is death (1 Cor 15:26), yet death has no hold upon the Christian.  Our bodies might die, but our spirit forever lives with Jesus.  Our bodies will be raised, just as Jesus’ body was raised.  We are truly saved, and neither the hand of death nor the hand of Satan will be able to touch us in eternity!
  • Again, Zacharias was a Jew, so he sang from the perspective of the Jews.  He knew that the Messianic promise of deliverance was based in the covenant that God had made with his forefather Abraham.  Throughout the centuries, God had showed mercy to the Hebrews, all because He remembered the “holy covenant” He made with Abraham.  The Hebrews may have been faithless through the years, but God was always faithful.
    • And God always is!  That’s just the way He works, and praise God for it.  When it comes to His promises (especially His covenant promises), let God be true & every man a liar (Rom 3:4).  We experience the covenant promises of God through faith in Christ – and God keeps every single one to the letter!

74 To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.

  • What will the fulfillment of God’s oath to Abraham make possible? Rescue – service – worship.
    • Rescue: they are “delivered.”  Israel was in a state of danger; in Christ they will exist in a state of safety.
    • Service: they will have no “fear” of any enemies, because their enemies will be removed.  Thus they will be free to serve God as they need.
    • Worship: here, “holiness” refers to devotion & piety, where as “righteousness” refers to moral uprightness.  During this time, the Jews will finally be able to worship God their whole hearts and whole lives, just as He always intended for them to do.
  • Again, what Israel will experience in that future day is something that we experience in the present day.  And it’s all because of Christ.  The very reason we can experience this today is because of our faith in Christ Jesus – and it will only be because of Jesus that the Jews will be able to do this in the Millennial Kingdom.  Our relationship with God starts and stops with Jesus – there is no other way for someone to truly worship God.
  • God’s prophet (76-79)

76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, 77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins,

  • First, Zacharias sang about the Messiah given to all Israel – the fulfillment of all of the covenant promises of God.  Now he sings praises to God because of his own son.  His son was privileged to be “the prophet of the Highest” – the prophet / mouthpiece for the Most High God.  In fact, his child would also be a servant of God – the same word used to describe David & Israel (παιδον) is used here of John.
  • Even at birth, Zacharias knew how his son would serve the Lord & be used of Him.  Gabriel had told him that much.  John would go before God “in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children” (1:17) – all according to the prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6.  Along with that, Zacharias was well aware that this same prophet would be the messenger of God, sent to prepare His ways (Mal 3:1).  His son would be the herald of the great King – the salvation of Israel (and the world) was at hand!
  • How would that salvation come?  “By the remission of their sins.”  Yes, a physical kingdom deliverance would eventually be experienced by the Jews, but the first thing that was required was the forgiveness of sin.  That is what John will preach in the desert, and that is still the most important thing that is needed today.  Before we can have any relationship with God at all, we must first experience the remission of our sins.  Our sins must be forgiven, if we are to live in the presence of Almighty God.
    • Think about it.  Without our sins being forgiven, we cannot have a peaceful loving relationship with God.  Our sins are in the way, and they must be judged.  God is a just & righteous God, and He will always judge sin wherever it is found.  He could not do less and still be righteous.  The question then becomes: where will God judge your sins?  Will it be at the cross of Christ, or will you have to answer for them yourself?  God overs to remit your sins – to wipe them away if you come through Jesus…so come!  Turn away from your sins, leave them in the past, and believe upon Jesus as your Lord & King.  Then (and only then) you will receive the remission of sins & know the salvation of God.

78 Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; 79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

  • Notice that although John is the one to proclaim the knowledge of salvation & the remission of sins, he’s not the one who gives it.  That only comes through the “tender mercy” (compassionate heartfelt mercy) of God, via the one called “the Dayspring from on high.” Literally, the word “dayspring” is “dawn” (and depending on the context, could be translated “east”), but this particular phrase specifically refers to the “dawn of heaven,” or the Messiah.  Jesus is the light that has come into the world – Jesus has come from heaven to earth bringing His light, glory, and majesty.  Like a sunrise beautifully lighting up a clear morning, so does Jesus show us the light of the glory of God.  This Dawn/Dayspring causes light to shine upon the ones in darkness – He gives light to us to guide us in the way of peace.  This Light has looked upon us, visiting us in the same way that the Lord God of Israel had visited His people (1:68).
  • Notice: look back to vs. 77 & see that it is that Zacharias prophesied his son would do through vs. 79.  Preach the gospel.  By giving people knowledge of their salvation & the remission of sins, John taught their need to be saved.  The Jews weren’t saved by virtue of being Jews; they would only be saved if they received the forgiveness of their sins.  By preaching the tender mercies of God as shown through the visiting of the Dayspring from on high, John is preaching the incarnation.  God Himself came to earth, visiting us, showing us His glory.  By telling others of the light given by the Dayspring & the guidance He provides in the way of peace, John is telling others of the sufficiency of Jesus’ work.  Put it together, and what do you have? (1) We need to be saved, (2) Jesus has come to save, (3) Jesus does save.  That’s the gospel! 
    • This is what John was born to proclaim, and we carry on in his mission.  This is the same message we give to others as we do our part to fulfill the Great Commission.  Are you doing your part?
  • Follow-up (80)

80 So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

  • What happened to Zacharias & Elizabeth after this point, we don’t know.  They were already elderly by the time John was born, so it’s quite possible he was orphaned at an early age.  He was known to be “strong in spirit,” so once his parents passed he may have had an easier transition to the wilderness, knowing that God would take care of him.  Many have theorized that perhaps John joined the Essene community at Qumran.  Judging from what scholars have been able to learn about the Essenes from the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered at Qumran, it seems to be quite possible.  John lived and ate much as the Essenes did, but if he did spend some time with them early on (and there’s no way to definitively know), he certainly didn’t stay with them forever.  God had a mission for John, and it wasn’t for him to forever remain a hermit in the desert.  He had a message to proclaim – he had a job to do.  He would be faithful to do it.

Conclusion:
Is God good to His promises?  You bet!  Bank on it.  God was faithful to the promise He made to Zacharias & Elizabeth, granting them the son of their dreams.  God was faithful to Israel, both in raising up the man to go in the role of Elijah, but (more importantly) to raise up the long-promised Messiah.  No covenant of God fell short – all of His promises are yes & amen in Christ Jesus.  What God promises, He is faithful to fulfill.

God is faithful to us – are we faithful in return?  Zacharias and Elizabeth were.  The followed through, obediently naming their son John (Yohannan – God shows favor), much to the amazement of their friends and neighbors.  Zacharias went on to be faithful in his praise & worship, singing to God of the glorious things God had done on behalf of his nation & his family.  Even John was faithful, as he bade his time waiting for God to call him to his mission, and when the time was ready, he went & manifested himself.

How many ways has God shown Himself faithful to us?  Even if we limited the list to only what was involved in our salvation, we could be here all day!  He has visited us – He has redeemed us – He has saved us from death – He has forgiven us our sin – He has called us out of darkness – He has given us His peace, and so much more.  It’s almost easier to ask ourselves what God hasn’t done in reference to our salvation (and the answer is “nothing”!).  God has done it all – God has been faithful.

If God has been so faithful in the big things, why are we so hesitant to trust Him in the little stuff?  After all, if God is so good to save us from sin, death, and hell, why stops Him from doing anything else?  Nothing.  If God wills it, it will be done.  If God promises it, you can guarantee it will be done.  Bank on it.

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