The Coming of Jesus

Scripture: Luke 1:37, Luke 1:2-3, 2 Timothy 3:16
Date: 04/04/2015 
Lesson: 1
"Luke places the story of Jesus in history - real people, real times - in order to dismiss any idea of mythology with his narrative."
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Good evening, friends, and welcome again to Sabbath School Study Hour. I'd like to welcome our friends joining us across the country and around the world as we continue our study in God's Word. I'd like to, in a special way, welcome our audience here from the Granite Bay church. Thank you for joining us, again, for our Tuesday evening Bible study. And, for those who have been following along with the Sabbath School Study Hour, today we find ourselves beginning a brand-new study in the book of Luke.

We're on our lesson quarterly dealing with the book of Luke and today's lesson - lesson #1 - is called the coming of Jesus. So if you don't have a lesson but you'd like to follow along with us, you can download today's lesson at the amazing facts website - just We have a free offer we'd like to let you know about - a book written by Joe Crews called down from his glory. And for anybody who'd like to receive this free offer, just give us a call. The resource line is -788-3966 and you can ask for offer #154.

Again, that number is 866-788-3966 - ask for offer #154 - a book entitled down from his glory. Well, before we begin our lesson for this evening, let's just bow our heads for prayer. Dear Father, once again we thank you for the opportunity to gather together to study the Bible. Father, we thank you for these lessons that are being prepared. As we launch into a new study on one of the Gospels, we just ask the Holy Spirit to come and guide our hearts and our minds as we look at the most important and the most beautiful theme of all, that of Jesus.

For we ask this in his name, amen. Our lesson today will be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor. Thank you, Pastor Doug. Good evening, everybody, class, and our friends - our extended class that is watching. And I just want to send special greetings - I arrived back from the Philippines yesterday, where we had one of the most exciting meetings that I've been part of.

And worked with - we have an Amazing Facts college of evangelism in the Philippines - we actually call it pafcoe because it's the Philippines Amazing Facts college of evangelism and a lot of friends there that greet us. Tomorrow, Pastor Ross is heading to indonesia to our evangelism program in indonesia, which is in the largest muslim country in the world. And so, it's really exciting that it's - is it solo? Indonesia - solo city? We've got an evangelism school there. And so, it's so exciting to just see the - the global work of the Lord going everywhere. And wherever we travel - in the Philippines - a lot of friends there say, 'oh, we watch Sabbath school.

They don't all see it live, because of the time change, but we've got a lot of friends watching there so we want to greet our class there. Matter of fact, we may roll in a little short here to give you an idea of some of the things that were happening in the Philippines - sort of a little mission report, if that's okay. In March 2015, Amazing Facts and Pastor Doug Batchelor traveled to the Philippines to share the everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people living in the bustling metropolis of manila. This life-changing series of messages called prophecy countdown: a Bible study adventure for the last days was presented at the cuneta astrodome in pasay to tens of thousands over a two-week period, and lives were changed. Today, the love and power of Jesus Christ is more alive in the Philippines than ever, and lives are still being changed by the Holy Spirit as the futures of so many in the Philippines are renewed with hope, joy, and peace.

Thank you so much for joining Amazing Facts on this mission of faith - through your prayers and support - without you it would never have been possible. Friends, we've just come to the end of our prophecy countdown series here in manila, in the Philippines, and it has been a thrill and a joy to see people come. Night after night they've opened the Word of God, hearts and lives have been changed, hundreds were baptized, and it's only by God's blessing and your participation all this has happened. Well, there's still a lot of world left to reach. Now, off to other mission fields.

So that was really neat. That was really exciting and we had 596 baptisms last week, which was the largest number that I've been connected with and I think it was - it's somewhere between the Philippines and indonesia, but I'm pretty sure that this last Sabbath was, for me, the largest live audience that I've been able to share with. It's pretty exciting. Somewhere around 11,000 people were in the building and so it was just pretty - pretty neat. And part of the reason is because - almost two years now, Amazing Facts has - we invested, with the conference, in broadcasting our programs on a main cable channel, because many of them speak english, at least as a second language, all across the country, not just manila, but all across the country.

And so, we think that this was some of the fruit of those - those endeavors and so I want to just, once again, greet our class that's watching there. And we're going to go to my favorite Gospel. A lot of people love the Gospel of John because they say, you know, he's the apostle of love. John is just so profound, it's almost above my head - the deep themes in there. And then there's those that love Matthew and those that love Mark because it's such a quick-moving Gospel.

Luke is unique for a number of reasons. For one, he's the only of the Gospel writers - well, he was the only gentile that wrote a book in the new testament, and it is the - it's the earliest beginning of the Gospels. In other words, he traces back even before Matthew, because he goes to the origin of John the baptist and his birth. And his genealogy goes back further than Matthew's. Matthew's genealogy traces Jesus back to David - he proves he's The Son of David.

Luke traces him back to adam, The Son of God. If it wasn't for Luke, you would not have the parable of the prodigal son. If it wasn't for the Gospel of Luke, you wouldn't have the story of zacchaeus. Luke has the parable of the rich man and Lazarus and many other stories that are unique to the Gospel of Luke. So we have a memory verse and it - the lesson title is the coming of Jesus, but that may be a misnomer for Seventh-day Adventists, because when we talk about the coming of Jesus, which coming do we think about? We're thinking about the second coming.

It is accurate to talk about the coming of Jesus, but we're really studying the first coming of Jesus in this lesson. And our memory verse is Luke :37. It's a very important, very simple verse. You ready to say it with me? "For with God nothing will be impossible." These are the words of gabriel to mary but, you know, that same phrase is found several places in the Bible - little variations - 'for with God all things are possible.' Or 'if you have faith, all things are possible with God.' So that is a common theme. And the book begins with several miracles, one being similar to the old testament where Abraham and elizabeth have this miraculous birth, the forerunner of Christ, John the baptist, is born through a miraculous birth from an old couple.

It doesn't tell the ages of zachariah and elizabeth, it just says that they were advanced in years. Now just a little more about the book of Luke. Luke is, evidently, a convert to Christianity. He was not a jew. Probably the only other person that you could argue wrote some of the Bible, who is not a jew, would be a chapter - chapter 4 - in the book of Daniel, where Nebuchadnezzar basically narrates his personal experience about the dream of the tree.

But the rest of the Bible is written by jews except Luke and the other book that Luke wrote, which is the book of acts. And really, they go together in a bundle and he's writing both of these books to somebody by the name of theophilus. Now theophilus - how many of you know what theology is? Theos is 'God' and, of course, theology is the study of God, like geology or anthropology or something, but theophilus - what does philadelphia mean? What do they call philadelphia? City of brotherly love. And thelio is like a brotherly love and so what you have is - it's like a love of a friend. So this name 'theophilus' means 'friend of God' and so Luke is writing to the friend of God and they - some have wondered, 'was there a person or was he writing in code because the Christian religion was forbidden about the time that Luke was writing and I think there probably was a person by the name of theophilus and he writes these two very important Chronicles.

He's probably one of the most careful of the historians. He's referred to as a physician, in one place, and doctors did not have all of the tools at their disposal back then, that we have now, but the skills of diagnosis were very important to them to try to, you know, without x-rays and mris and all the things that we do - and blood tests now. They really had to, kind of, you know, poke and prod and look in your ears to figure out what was going on. And so, he was a physician. Paul had some medical problems and some have wondered if part of the reason - you know, Paul talks about a thorn in his side where satan came to buffet him.

Some argue it was his eyesight. I'm inclined to think that. Others think that it may have been epilepsy or - but he's vague about what it is, but he had some physical problem he prayed about. Some have wondered if Luke attended him because he needed some ongoing help. A lot of that's speculation, but I'm just telling you some of the things that the scholars thought.

As far as where he's born, again, you can speculate. Now let me give you something interesting. Turn in your Bibles - I know we're going to study Luke, but let's study about Luke and then we'll get into the chapters - and 2 we're going to look at. Acts 16 - also written by Luke - acts 16:6 and Luke, up until this time in the book of acts, Luke is saying, 'Peter went here, Paul went there, Philip went here.' And all of a sudden the tense changes in this chapter. I want you to notice: acts 16:6, "now when they had gone through phrygia and the region of galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in asia.

" - That tells you sometimes the spirit says, 'no, this is not the right time or the right place.' - "And after they had come to mysia, they tried to go into bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by mysia, they came down to troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, 'come over to macedonia and help us.' Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we..." - Alright, the book changes right there. Up until this point in the book of acts, he's saying 'they.

' From 16 on it starts saying 'we.' Notice here, it says, "...we sought to go to macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us" - and so immediately Luke says he is part of the book. But, you know, the Bible writers were so modest. I mean, how did John refer to himself in his Gospel? Does he ever say his name? In Revelation he does, but otherwise, in his Gospel, he says, 'the disciple whom Jesus loved.' So they were very self-effacing. They didn't grandstand a lot after that experience where they were arguing which was the greatest. Luke doesn't mention himself in his book and he doesn't mention himself in acts, except to say, 'we,' because he was there.

And the church father, jerome, who lived about 300 years after Christ, he said that Luke was born at antioch and, you know, other than that statement we don't know. But somewhere in asia minor Luke probably originated. And one reason we don't think that he was a jew? If you turn to Colossians, for example, go to Colossians 4, verse 10 and it says - Colossians 4:10 - Paul is writing - "arisarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), and Jesus who is called justus." - Jesus was not an uncommon - it's like the name Joshua, it wasn't an uncommon name - "these are my only fellow workers for the Kingdom of God who are of the circumcision;" - now, what Paul means when he says, 'of the circumcision' - he means 'who are Jewish' - they were Jewish converts. So he's names these people. He says, they are "my only fellow workers.

.. (That are Jewish); they have proved to be a comfort to me. ...Luke, the beloved physician and demas" - so, if he's naming the other guys and saying they're the only jews that are coworkers, and then he mentions demas, another Greek name, and Luke, what does that mean? He's not a jew, he's a gentile. But the interesting thing about Luke is, even though he was probably not a jew, he is the most meticulous to talk about the Jewish law so that his gentile readers will understand the context of what he's writing about. And I'll get into some of that in chapter 1.

You'll find how often he says 'according to the Jewish law.' 'According to the Jewish law.' It's interesting, at the end of Luke's Gospel, when he talks about the crucifixion of Jesus and them not embalming him on the Sabbath, he says, 'they went home and kept the Sabbath according to 'the commandment.' He doesn't say 'the Jewish commandment.' It's like it is self-understood to his listeners that this was a commandment. So anyway, just a little bit about who he is and where he's from and the name 'Luke' is - it really is connected with a name - 'lucas' - and that means 'light giving.' It's contracted from the latin word 'lucanis' and there's maybe three Lukes in the Gospel. You can look in Romans 16:21, he says, "Timothy, my fellow worker, and lucanus," - and some have argued, 'is that the same 'Luke?'' I think origin, the church father, thought that 'lucius' in Romans 16 was the same 'Luke.' And Paul - it's like sometimes I've got friends - I'll call them 'Michael' or I'll call them 'mike.' I've got a friend named 'David' and I call him 'dave,' he corrects me. But some people go back and forth. It was not uncommon back then, to have contractions of names.

So it's interesting that Luke, whose name means 'light giving,' is writing to 'friend of God' in his Gospel in the book of acts. I always look at the names in the Bible. I think it means something. So let's get to chapter 1. I've got someone lined up to read Luke 1, verse 3.

Who's - you'll have that? Okay, in just a moment? I'm going to read Luke 1:1. "Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us," - who is he talking about? He said 'inasmuch as many.' Now what Gospels had been written before the account of Luke? Luke's getting ready to write the life of Jesus and he says, "inasmuch as many have taken in hand." Well, Matthew was probably written at this point. Mark - probably written before Matthew. John definitely was not written yet. Almost everyone agrees John was the last of the Gospels written.

So does it make you wonder if there were others that had written long or abbreviated stories of Jesus' teaching, even before the four surviving Gospels that we have - for whatever reason God didn't see that they should be incorporated in Scripture but, obviously, Jesus filled the headlines during his day, so other people wrote about him. I think it's Solomon that said 'of the making of many books there is no end.' And John, in his Gospel - you know how John ends his Gospel? 'These are just some of the things Jesus did. If I wrote them all, the world itself could not contain.' So, evidently, there was quite a bit written about Jesus. There may have been some efforts among the Romans, when Christianity was illegal, to destroy the history of Christ. That was common when one ruling power wanted to get rid of a forbidden religion, they would burn their sacred manuscripts.

So you could almost be sure that we could be very thankful we've got the four Gospels we've got - that there were other things that were written about Jesus - you can be quite sure - that were destroyed. Luke says "many have taken in hand" - if there's two people in a room, would you say 'many?' So all we know about is Matthew and Mark before Luke wrote. But he says, "many have taken in hand" 'but I want to add my writing to it.' And he was more careful, I think, to give details. Luke writes as a historian knowing that, as time goes by, people are going to read it. He probably wrote somewhere between 18 and 25 years after Jesus and already stories were getting muddy.

You know how time goes by? And I think Luke was concerned that the story was going to get distorted. Rumors were spreading. I mean, there were rumors spreading the day of the resurrection that his body had actually been stolen. So, to give an accurate account, is why he's writing this. He says, "to set in order" - some people were getting things out of order - "a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us," - so where did Luke get his Gospel? Did Luke know Jesus? Probably not.

He probably was a convert, maybe from Paul or someone who went ahead of Paul. Luke probably - mary was still alive when Luke wrote - where did he get this very detailed account about elizabeth? You see, mary goes to see elizabeth - it's in these - and mary's account with the angel and the story in Luke about the shepherds. Matthew talks about the wise men. Luke talks about the shepherds. Mary was probably still alive, living in asia minor.

According to church tradition John took care of her. John resided in asia. I think Luke had first-hand interviews. By the time Luke started writing, some of the apostles had already died. James was beheaded - in acts chapter 12 - and he could have been interviewing some of the .

Some of the apostles - you read in acts chapter 8 - great persecution under Paul - it says they were scattered everywhere preaching the Gospel. That's when, tradition tells us, thomas went to india and some of them went to north africa and the apostles themselves scattered. So he probably had the ability to go into interview a number of first-hand people - if it's not the 12, the other first-hand people would have been some of - at least the 70 that Jesus sent out - or those who were in the upper room. You remember when they picked a replacement for Judas? They said, 'pick someone from among the ones who, from the beginning, had followed Jesus that really knew him and his teaching.' And so Luke probably interviewed some of those. So under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he received that.

Go ahead, read for us verse 3. "It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excEllent theophilus," alright, so Luke is again - he's emphasizing that he wants to put things in order and he says, "also having a perfect understanding." Now Luke spent a lot of time with someone who did see Jesus. Paul did not walk with Jesus the same way the 12 did or the 70 did, but Paul had a personal interview with Jesus and Paul also had unique Revelation - not only did Jesus appear to him, but he said, 'I knew a man caught up to the third heaven.' And so Paul saw things and heard things that he couldn't even repeat. So, through Paul, through interviewing other first-hand witness, most believe, including mary and maybe his brothers - most likely his brothers, he got a very accurate account and that's why his - his Gospel is unique in including stories that didn't just come from the twelve. It probably came from some of the 120 in the upper room and/or some of the 70.

So someone, I think, is going to read for me 2 Timothy 3:16 and and I'm going to - you'll do that? I'm going to read Luke 1, verse . We're just kind of Marching through. I will not be able to read every word, but we'll cover as much as we can. "That you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed." Okay, this tells us something. Theophilus has been taught about Jesus.

He is probably a convert. The fact that in one of his books Luke refers to him as 'most excEllent theophilus.' He may have been a person of some wealth and rank. He may have also given him - do you know how much work it is to write - handwrite these accounts of - Gospel of Luke and acts? He probably could trust that theophilus would be a guardian of this - share it with the church in his town and even help pay to have scribes create copies. Luke would not have gone through such a careful chronicle - no printing presses back then - when you wrote something that you wanted to endure, you would write it and give it to somebody who could replicate it - they could afford to pay scribes to make copies. None of the early church fathers questioned the authenticity of Luke.

In fact, some of the earliest manuscripts - no, we don't have copies of those, but the comments on the early manuscripts, from the early church fathers, say that it was written from alexandria, even though it originated in asia but when Luke finally wrote it there was a big Jewish community in alexandria. He may have been there. That was a place where a lot of scribes were - that they had the biggest library in the world - that was in alexandria until it was burned by, I think, the muslims about 700 years later. But it was supposed to have had just a phenomenal library of history. And so it may have been there and we're just thankful that this copy survives.

Alright, so is Luke just a personal account or is it Scripture? Go ahead, read that for us in 2 Timothy 3. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." This is one of the other great :16 verses - is there in 2 Timothy, talking about the word of God, that all Scripture - now, what Scripture was in existence when Paul wrote that? Did they have the - they didn't have the new testament yet, did they? But you know that Paul's writings were considered Scripture while Paul was still alive, because Peter says, in 2 Peter chapter 3, "even as our beloved brother Paul...hath written unto you; as also in all his which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable people wrest," - or twist - "as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction." So Peter is referring to Paul's writing as Scripture while Peter and Paul are still alive. And so Luke, we believe, is a beautifully inspired book. I just see so many supernatural fingerprints on the book of Luke as I read it. What would you do without the story of the prodigal son? Or, you know, there's a little man named zacchaeus.

A shepherd had 99 sheep and he loses one - and there's so many unique things in the book of Luke. Luke - the chapters are among the longest. Any of you ever read the book the hiding place? And corrie ten boom - in that book, her papa used to read Scripture every night and she talks about one night he said, 'today we're going to read from Luke.' And she said, 'oh, the chapters are so long!' And she's right. Luke has got some of them you see verse 60 and so he was very thorough in his writing. Alright, if you look in the beginning of Luke - now, we're reading and it's giving us some instruction or the story - the background for the birth of John the baptist.

And, if you look in verse 5, "there was in the days of herod, the King of Judea, a certain priest named zacharias, of the division of abijah. His wife was of the daughters of aaron, and her name was elizabeth." Is this a fairy tale or is he sticking them in history and giving them context of tradition? It tells what tribe they're from. It tells what time. It tells what the government power was. And it says, "his wife was of the daughters of aaron, and her name was elizabeth.

" So, you know, there could be priestly daughters - daughters of the priests - they didn't carry out all the functions of the priests, but they were part of the priesthood. That's an important point these days that some people are forgetting about. And it says, "and they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." - Now, is it possible to walk in all the commandments of God blameless? I just read it. What do you think? But what does that mean? You read a little further and zacharias is chastised by the angel for his lack of faith. So what does it mean to walk in all the commandments of the Lord blameless? You know, I'm so thankful for a statement in the book steps to Christ that says, "it's not the occasional good deed or the occasional misdeed that determines whose side we're on, but it's the habitual words and acts.

" So what Luke is saying here is it was the habit. It doesn't mean they never made a mistake or they never questioned or never lost faith, it was the habit of zacharias and elizabeth to walk in the commandments of the Lord. That was their pattern. And you can talk about king hezekiah. It says he walked in all the commandments of the Lord.

That's the record of hezekiah. But then you read about where hezekiah got proud and started to brag to the ambassador from Babylon. It doesn't mean that was right. And so, you know, there's a lot of people - and then look at David. Now it actually says David was a friend of God and he walked in the commandments of the Lord, except for the incident with bathsheba and then, later, numbering Israel.

But do you think that means that David only sinned twice in his life? No, it means in his heart - in his life - he had a life of consistently obeying God. And so this was the pattern. All of the neighbors of zacharias and elizabeth knew them as Godly people, even though - and you've got to know something about the times. The Jewish nation, during the time of zacharias and elizabeth, had - they had sacrificed a lot of their Godly traditions to what they called helenization - the influence of Greek culture. And so, on one hand you had the pharisees that were robed from crown to foot and, you know, wearing their phylacteries and praying on the corners and giving publicly and very religious but, during the same time, you had Romans that had a las vegas in magdala, you had the Greeks that had olympians wrestling nude or at least - well, yeah, according to all the ancient pottery and - and so, you know, so here you've got great modesty among some of the more conservative people, but even among the jews there were believers that were very liberal.

The sadducees didn't believe in a resurrection or a judgment. They didn't believe in angels. That'd be pretty wayward theology among Christians today and there are Christians who still, today, they say, 'oh, I'm a Christian but I don't believe that miracles are literal.' So the reason I'm saying that is, in spite of the worldliness from the roman and Greek influence in Israel, zachariah and elizabeth were still living Godly lives according to the commandments. Is it possible for us, before the second coming - and they're doing this before the first coming - is it possible for us, before the second coming, surrounded by a culture that's compromised, to still live Godly lives? The same way they did. I think Jesus Christ is the same.

Righteous - "but they had no child, because elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years." - Now I think I've said many times, there are seven occasions of miracle births in the Bible. This is really the last occasion in the Bible of a woman who was barren that miraculously had a child. Jesus is the last miracle birth, but not because mary was barren. And it's interesting that mary and elizabeth are related. Now let's rehearse them real quick, in case you haven't heard this before.

Sarah was barren - had a miracle birth in her old age. Rebekah had twins - Jacob and esau. Rachel was barren. She had Joseph - you know what 'Joseph' means? Adding - and she said, 'God will add to me another son,' which was Benjamin. That's what happened.

So there's three miracle births. Hannah was barren. The shunamite woman and Samson's mother - miNoah's wife - we don't know her name. And so there you've got those six - is that six? Let me see. Yeah, that's six and then Jesus - yeah - including Sarah - including elizabeth.

So Luke is placing them, historically, in context, and then he goes into the divisions. Now it says that he goes up to the temple. He's fulfilling his custom. His lot was to burn incense - they had a number of duties but he had been chosen, by lot, to burn incense. That was a great honor, but do you think that was an accident that he would be in the temple when this promised child comes to him? And while he's doing it the whole multitude of the people are outside and they're praying.

Now, some are wondering, 'is this based on Leviticus? Was it a day of atonement when the people would be gathered outside praying?' It's kind of interesting. And the angel appears, says that 'your God has heard your prayers and your wife is going to have a son.' And he's evidently been praying for something but he doesn't believe his prayers are going to be answered because he begins to doubt that this is going to happen and it says, "and you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb." Oh, so much I could say here. John the baptist was a nazarite.

You remember what the angel said to miNoah's wife? Do not give him wine or strong drink? Samson grew up and didn't listen to that, but his parents, at least, observed that. And God had a great work for this child and he needed every physical advantage to have his vessel be a housing for the Holy Spirit because John the baptist was filled with the Spirit from the beginning. Matter of fact, John the baptist, in his mother's womb, was leaping at the tidings of Jesus. And so that was obviously not based on his works, but based on the grace of God. Isn't that right? You know, some of us think, 'well, God intervened in my life because I was looking for him.

And that may be, but it's the Holy Spirit that sometimes impresses us to look for him. And it was the Holy Spirit, not because of John's good works made him desire that, but he was really called by the Lord. I know that might sound like I'm talking about election, but sometimes God's grace just intervenes. Paul was not saved on the road to damascus because of his goodness. You know what I mean? God is good and sometimes he just interrupts things and he is sovereign.

And he says your wife "will bear you a son," and God picks his name. Now there's several similarities between Jesus and John. Not only are they cousins of some form, their names are chosen. The same angel, gabriel, announces both their births, they both die at the hands of others, and they're both spirit filled and they both go to the Jordan river. So it's like John is sort of leading the way and he actually led the way for Christ, as a martyr, before Jesus died.

Joy and gladness during his life - John outlived his parents, we believe. Of course, they didn't have to witness his death, unlike what the angel says to mary, that 'a sword'll pierce your own soul.' So, well, I guess she doesn't get that from the angel, she gets that from simeon in the temple. "And he'll turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God." He'll also prepare - he'll "go before him in the Spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of The Fathers to the children." Now this is important because when people talk about John coming in the Spirit and the power of Elijah, some have wondered, 'does that mean Elijah would be resurrected?' And you remember they used to - they came to John the baptist - they said, 'are you John?' - 'Are you Elijah' rather - 'resurrected?' And he said, 'what? No.' But the angel said he was and Jesus said, 'if you can receive it, this was Elijah who is to come.' Matthew 11. Why did John say 'no' when they said, 'are you Elijah?' And Jesus said, 'yes he is,' and the angels say he is? Because they were asking a different question. The religious leaders were asking, 'are you Elijah resurrected?' It was almost like bordering on reincarnation - and he said, 'no.

' What he had from Elijah was the same thing that Elisha had from Elijah; he had the spirit that - of revival - that God gave Elijah. And this is what the angel foretold about his life. And he had a mission to turn "the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." This is also interesting because, if you read in Malachi, where it says, 'behold, I send you Elijah the prophet and he'll turn the hearts of The Fathers to the children and the children to The Fathers,' here the angel says it a little differently than that. It says "he'll 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." So the message in John the baptist is to prepare the way of the Lord for the first coming. What should be our work in the last days? What does it mean to be an adventist? Don't we have a work similar to the work of Elijah and - Elisha and John the baptist? To prepare the way of the Lord? Did Elijah spend time in the desert? Did John spend time in the desert? Did Elijah dress out of style? That's not that it's a requirement for you to all dress out of style, but I just want you to know he had simple dress.

No one could accuse him of being flamboyant. It was, you know, camel skin and a leather belt and that's what Elijah wore. And he had a ministry of baptism - to prepare people. What's the last thing Jesus says? 'Go teach. Baptize.

' And so, you see, there's some interesting parallels here. Now the name 'John' that the angel gives him - you know, whenever you see these names like 'Jesus' - is not really 'Jesus,' it's 'yahshua.' And 'John' is - it comes from the word 'yohanan,' meaning 'yahweh is gracious.' Let me see here - let me - I've got a quote from Desire of Ages I'd like to read you, and this is page 98. "The birth of a son to zacharias, like the birth of the child of Abraham, and that of mary, was to teach a great spiritual truth - a truth that we are slow to learn and ready to forget. In ourselves we are incapable of doing any good thing, but that which we cannot do will be wrought by the power of God in every submissive and believing soul. It was through faith that the child of promise was given.

It was through faith that spiritual life is begotten and we are unable to do works of righteousness." So how are we able to do works of righteousness? It says we sometimes are quick to forget that in ourselves we're incapable of doing any good thing, but when we submit, through faith in God, we are enabled to do the works of righteousness. Alright, so then John is born - we're having to hasten along because we've got some other sections here - and it talks about then it transitions from, you know, zacharias, he can't speak. He comes out - everyone's wondering what happened and his face is glowing. He's seen a vision and he writes and he tells them what's happened. He can't speak again until John's born.

Meantime, fast forward a few months, the angel goes to nazareth and there's mary and she's engaged to an older man that has a blended family - his first wife has evidently died - named Joseph, and the angel announces that she's going to have a miracle birth - and this is the seventh of the miracle births in the Bible. Interesting, also, they're all boys, because each of those miracle births were all types of Christ in the Bible. Isaac, Joseph, Samson, Samuel, the shunamite boy who dies and is resurrected. They're all, in some way, a type or a shadow of Christ. And I think the Lord wanted us to notice that.

So angel comes to mary and says, 'you're going to have this promised child.' His name is yashua - in Greek, Jesus, which means, 'God is salvation.' Two other Joshuas in the Bible that are prominent: one is, of course, Moses' attendant who leads people from slavery into the promised land - or from the wilderness into the promised land. The other Joshua is the high priest that leads them from Babylon into the promised land, during the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. And something else, if you look in - somebody's going to look up for me John 6:14 - you'll have that? If you look in - Deuteronomy :15 is a great - what's the last book Moses wrote? Deuteronomy. And if you look in the last book Moses wrote before he dies, Deuteronomy's his swan song - it's his closing sermon - he says, "the Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear," - and everyone kept wondering - he didn't name him.

He said, 'there'll be a prophet like me.' I mean, Moses was a pretty remarkable prophet. The signs and wonders and miracles he did. And I heard someone say there's only three or four waves of miracles in the Bible. You've got all the miracles connected with the Exodus. You've got a great raft of miracles connected with Elijah and Elisha.

Then you've got the miracles of Jesus and the apostles. You know, between those epics, things are normal - like they are today. I think before Jesus comes back, there'll be another wave of miracles. I mean, if God poured out the former rain and there was a wave of miracles, just before the second coming, when the beast is doing his power, where sin abounds, grace abounds, right? I think there's going to be another wave of miracles that will come during that time. So who is this prophet? They kept waiting for this prophet.

I'm going to read for you John :21. They came to John the baptist and they said, 'what then? Are you Elijah?' He said, 'I am not.' 'Are you 'the prophet?' - Capital 'p' - and he said, 'no.' What prophet are they talking about? The one like Moses they were all looking for. You'll notice how many times it says that. Go to verse 25 - John chapter 1, verse 25 - "and they asked him, saying, 'why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?'" Notice the three names that are mentioned: Christ, Elijah, or the prophet (like Moses). Who appears to Jesus on the mount of transfiguration? Moses.

Up there you've got Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. So that was like the trinity of great messengers. Go ahead, read for us John 6:14. "Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, 'this is truly the prophet who is to come into the world.'" Again, who are they talking about? They don't realize that Jesus was not Moses, Jesus was the one Moses talked about. That's why the mount of transfiguration experience was so important, because many were inclined to think that Jesus was like Moses, another great prophet - but he was much more than that.

That's why, when Peter, on the mountain, said, 'oh Lord, it's good for us to be here, let's build three temples. We'll build one for you and we'll build one for Moses. We'll build one for Elijah' and the apostles thought that Jesus got equal marquee billing with Moses and Elijah. And then you know who speaks up? God The Father says, 'no, no, no, no. This is my beloved son.

Hear him.' Jesus was so much more than Elijah or Moses. And so they just thought that this prophet like Moses. Moses didn't mean he'd be a prophet of the same caliber, but he would be a great Savior - not from slavery, but from sin. So there's a lot of parallels between Jesus and Moses. In fact - shameless plug - i, you know, wrote a book a little while ago called shadows of light: seeing Jesus in all the Bible - I have a whole section talking about all the parallels between Moses and Jesus.

It's phenomenal how many there are. Matter of fact, you can just also read in acts chapter 3:22 - Peter is preaching and he said, "for Moses truly said to the father, 'the Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever he says to you...yes, and all the prophets," - not just Moses - "all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days." All the prophets were pointing to who? The day of Jesus when God's son would finally come. And then, before stephen's stoned - in his closing sermon - listen to what he says, "this is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, 'the Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.

'" Stephen said, 'Jesus is that prophet - the one you executed.' They got upset at that and they killed stephen. So, you know, the angel comes to mary and explains that you're not just having another baby, he said, 'you're going to have the baby every Jewish mother dreamed that her son might be - the blessed Messiah - the anointed one. And that's why she says in verse - I'll go to Luke 1, verse , "then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, 'blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, - I'm sorry, these are the words of elizabeth - "'but why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?'" So elizabeth understood that Jesus was - mary's baby was not going to just be another prophet, this would be the Savior that was foretold. "For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.

" God, through gabriel, told mary she was going to have Messiah. Elizabeth confirms it and says it is definitely true. Then mary, hearing that, she issues what's called the magnificent - magnificat - and she says, "my soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior." - Now I want to pause. A promise is given to zacharias in the early chapters of Luke, and a promise is given to mary. Both doubt - zacharias struck dumb - why isn't mary? Mary does not doubt what God is going to do, mary wonders how it's going to happen.

She said, 'how can this be? Because we're not married yet.' And so the angel then says, 'the Holy Spirit will come upon you. Mary believes, she just doesn't understand how. Zacharias doubts the word of the angel and - you ever pray a prayer - not even sure if you believe your own prayer? You know God can answer a prayer that you don't even believe? I mentioned this at our staff worship today, but when we were just in manila doing some meetings, we spent a day videotaping - we did this amazing fact about jeepneys - spent the whole morning videotaping - I was jumping off and on, off and on - we rented a jeepney and a driver went around - breathed a lot of exhaust and didn't - we finally got what we thought would be a good amazing fact. Got back to the hotel with wayne and our crew there that were helping us and we realized we had left this very expensive camera in the jeepney. This is a public jeepney - not only the loss of the camera, though it's insured, but, you know, thousands of dollar camera - but the card with all the footage that we'd just taped that morning.

And it was the only day - very tight schedule - we were going to be able to do it. We were just sick about it. And when our producer came in and told me, he just looked like he was going to cry. And I was - I was all ready to cry too, but I thought, 'well, let's pray.' What else do you do? I mean, we called the - we managed to find the jeepney driver's phone number by some miracle - called - he said, 'no, there's nothing in my car. It wasn't there.

' And they would look around - there was no sign of it. So we prayed and said, 'Lord, we realize that it doesn't look very hopeful right now, that in a city like manilla you would drop an expensive camera like that on the street somehow and it would disappear and somehow find its way back. What are the odds?' And I said, 'Lord, we're going to have trouble believing this one, but all things are possible with you - but if there's any way you could bring it back, we'd appreciate it.' So we prayed and that night at the meeting I got a text from our translator who was driving us to the meetings. He said, 'I just got a call from The Father of the jeepney driver and, evidently, he found that The Son had taken the camera. It was in his car.

And he talked to his son and said he needs to bring it back. And they brought the camera back, with all the film and everything, that day. He came under conviction, told his father what he had done, and he brought the camera back. That's the Holy Spirit - if we hadn't prayed - but I didn't even believe my prayer would be answered when I prayed it. But you can tell the Lord that, I mean, can't you? And that's what we said, we said, 'Lord, it doesn't look likely, but all things are possible with you.

' And we just - we kind of wrote it off in our minds and God said, 'why do you doubt? I can do it.' So, praise the Lord. So you'll see a jeepney fact someday. Anyway, so where am i? Alright, so mary prays. You know, we need to jump up to chapter 2 and then it says in - yeah - then it says in chapter , verse 1, "and it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered," - this census took place - now notice this - "this census first took place while quirinius was governor of syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of nazareth, into Judea," - Luke is, again, reinforcing the story with historical context. Everybody living back then - first of all, Augustus caesar, who was once known as octavian - and you can read about him in the stories of cleopatra and Mark anthony. Later - his name went from 'octavian' to 'Augustus caesar' - ruled for 40 years - very well known in roman history - easy to establish - tells - everyone knows about this great census, which was a tax for the world, and that you had to be registered - you had to go to your place - your native town for registry to make sure you weren't skipping out. So Luke is constantly saying, 'this is a real story. The story of Jesus is not a fairy tale.

We are going to just surround it with historical facts.' And it's one reason I love the book of Luke, is because he just states it all like, 'this is what happened, believe it or not.' And he puts it in history. "To be registered with mary, his betrothed it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered." - Luke knew about those days - a doctor - "and she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths," - I think he talked to mary - "and laid him in a manger," - we wouldn't have this story about the manger and no room at the inn if it wasn't for Luke. Matthew doesn't mention that. "Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night." Now, you know, based on the different feasts and when these things happen, Jesus was most likely born in the fall. Now, how do you get that? Because, do we know what time of year Jesus died? When? Passover - spring.

That's a fixed date. Do we know how long he ministered? Three and a half years. Three and a half years. Do we know how old he was when he began his ministry? You know we get that from Luke also. Mary would know when his birthday was and he also needed to be 30 because a priest could not minister until then.

So as he began to be 30 - as he entered on his 30th birthday, he went to John and he was baptized. So you count back three and a half years from the passover and it lands in the fall sometime. And the shepherds out in the fields - here in northern California, the climate, believe it or not, is very similar to the climate in Israel during that time and it's cold and it's wet and the shepherd's are not out in the fields grazing. There's - it's brown - if anything, or mud. And so it was probably in the fall.

Anyway, so we've got one more verse we'll close with. You're up, okay katrina? We're going to do 2 Corinthians 8:9. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty, might become rich." You will find this theme about the rich and the poor emphasized in Luke almost more than any other Gospel - the parable of the rich man and Lazarus and he talks about the rich and the poor a little differently in his beatitudes. And so Luke may have actually forsaken some wealth of a physician as he became an itinerant worker with Paul. But I'm looking forward to getting to know him better as we study the story of Luke.

I wish I had more time, there's so much to share. One again, friends, if you didn't get it at the beginning, we have a free offer. It's a book by Joe Crews called down from his glory and it's offer #154. If you'd like a free copy just call 866-788-3966 - better yet, if you want it now, just go to God bless you.

Looking forward to studying more about Luke with you next week. I grew up in a church-going family. I mean, we were at every meeting. I sang in four of the choirs there - I directed three - very involved - very active. It almost seemed like busy work sometimes, you know? I went to Sunday school.

I knew about God. I knew about Jesus, but I didn't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. My senior year in high school I got the news that my father had been murdered. I played it off well. No one really saw that I was struggling with it.

It just really felt like there was a hole that needed to be filled and I tried to fill it with drugs, with alcohol, with partying. After college I just stopped going to church altogether. One day, on a Sunday, because I didn't feel like going to church with my mom, I thought, you know, I should get a little bit of word. She had the satellite system hooked up and I'm flipping through channels and then the logo pops across: Amazing Facts presents. I've listened to a lot of different ministers, but here was - this was the first time that he's actually saying something where I had to grab my Bible and actually pick it up and I've never heard this before, let me - let me look through and find this.

I went through all the storacles. I went through all the study guides and I just couldn't get enough. And then the Sabbath came up and he's going through the appeal and I'm just going, 'Lord, I hear you. I have to go to church.' So I show up - it was funny, I didn't feel like I was going to be judged - anything judgmental - anything. And I walked in the door and I just felt at home.

But there's still a problem. I'm still partying. I was still going out to the bars. At this time, I was selling cocaine to pay my rent. Days later I find myself in a life or death situation.

I had just came back from a liquor store and I grabbed a bottle of vodka and there I am, high off cocaine, with my Bible in hand, trying to do a Bible study. And I heard an audible voice, 'just look at yourself.' And I did and I was like 'what am I doing?' And I got on my knees and I said, 'Lord, if you do not take this away from me now, I'm going to kill myself.' I was going to continue this lifestyle and I was going to end up overdosing, having a heart attack, whatever it was. 'You have to take this away. All of it.' And that day he lifted all of it away from me. It was all gone.

When God does something in your life, he does it complete.

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