- There’s an old adage among performers in variety shows: “Never follow an act that has kids or animals in it…”
- I would like to do two things:
- I would like to explain, or review, the importance of your active participation in this Advent season.
- I would like for us to look at one verse, and primarily, one word from Luke 1:74.
- So, why is it important that we actively participate in this Advent Season?
- Advent is a time when we intentionally slow down and reflect on God’s great gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
- Why do we need to slow down? Because It’s SO easy to get duped into spending most of our time fulfilling all the demands of the holiday season, not preparing our hearts to reconnect with the implications of the birth of Jesus.
- Did you know that we Americans spent $7.5 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday? (It can get crazy out there!)
- I want to invite everyone in the room to do two things:
- Take some time during the week to slow down and spend some time reflecting on and anticipating the birth of Jesus. Read the blog post on Advent on our website, read Luke 1 and 2 several times – as well as the other Advent material and passages in the Bible.
- Carve out the time to get to church – up through Christmas Eve.
- Let’s worship God and reflect together.
- Invite your unchurched friends, family, and co-workers.
- We intend to share the beauty and simplicity of the gospel in thoughtful and intelligent ways.
- With that in mind, let’s turn out attention to Luke 1:74. I’ll read it, pray, and then make a few comments: “To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear” Luke 1:74 (NAS)
- I’ll begin at 30,000 feet and then move into the passage…
- Luke is the only non-Jewish (or Gentile) author in the Bible – yet his writings (Gospel & Acts) make up about a ¼ of the NT.
- Luke is a physician, a scientist – and an exacting historian. (He reminds me of Sgt Joe Friday from the TV series, and movie, Dragnet: “Just the facts Ma’am, just the facts…”)
- So, what we see in Luke’s writing style is that he is not prone to embellishment. His style is orderly and detailed. He’s probably a charismatic with a seat belt.
- In chap 1:67-79 there is a section with the subtitle “Zacharias’ Prophecy”
- Zacharias is a priest in the temple and John the Baptist’s father; who has an encounter with God and erupts into a Holy Spirit inspired prophetic proclamation that foretells the imminent arrival of the long-promised Messiah.
- Zacharias’ proclamation is a comprehensive gospel presentation containing several promises…
- V. 68 = God will visit and abide with His people
- V. 71 = God will save His people from their enemies
- Vs. 72-73 = God will fulfill His ancient promises
- V. And that brings us to our verse for for today: V. 74 = God will rescue (or deliver) His people so we can serve Him without fear.
- V. 77 — God will forgive the sins of His people.
- V. 79 – God will guide His people into a life of peace.
- What we see here is that the gospel is full mercy (i.e., mercy = God not giving us what our sin deserves), but even more, the gospel is full of grace (i.e., grace = God giving us what we don’t deserve)
- “To grant us that we, being rescued [or delivered] from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear” –Luke 1:74 (NAS)
- What does it mean to be “rescued”?
- One kind of rescue is for us to be delivered FROM our circumstances; another deeper form of rescue is being rescued IN our circumstances. This is what Zacharias’ prophesy is about – being rescued IN our circumstances. What does this mean?
- There are (at least) two Greek words for the word rescue (or deliverance):
- One is apallasso and it means to remove one from the suffering situation (see Luke 12:58; Acts 19:12; Hebrews 2:15).
- The Greek word in Luke 1:74 is “rhuomai” = means to supply one with the strength to endure while remaining within suffering situation. (16 occurrences: Mat 6:13, 27:43; Lk 1:74, 11:4; Rom 7:24, 11:26, 15:31; 2 Cor 1:10; Col 1:13; 1 Thess 1:10; 2 Thess 3:2; 2 Tim 3:11, 4:17, 4:18, 2 Pet 2:7, 2:9.)
- This concept of “rescue” based on the Greek word can be described as a flowing current of God’s life in us.
- Think of the flow of electricity, or water, or blood – the rescue that Luke is speaking about is like a steady current of God’s energizing life surging through the lives of Christ-followers to supply us with the wisdom and also the ability to endure and/or overcome in the midst of a trial or a season of suffering.
- This is vividly seen in the last chapter of Job where he writes of having come to really know God while enduring a horrific set of circumstances:
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You.” —Job 42:5 (NAS)
Final thought: Believing and receiving the gospel is beginning to see that the glorious God of the universe is now pleased with you and speaks peace into your personal life. The result is release from fear and entry into freedom, joy, delight, and a (sometimes) overwhelming desire to please God – even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
(For students of eschatology: The strategic use of the word “rhuomai” as well as the general theme throughout both the Old and New Testaments of God rescuing His people IN THE MIDST of trouble instead of FROM trouble is a good reason to question and rethink the “pre-tribulation” rapture theory.)