Today we step into a new season in the life of the church year, a time of preparation for the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus. By design there are four Sundays in this season, Sundays for us to reflect and ponder many of the special unique people and places wrapped around the birth of the Savior story. For many years you have hung 4 banners signifying this season, a new one each week with some of the special themes of the season. This week is Prophesy, then Bethlehem, Shepherds, and Angels. There are many sets of words that are presented with the lighting of the candles, this year we will use the ones found on our banners.
When you heard the Old Testament lesson from Isaiah read, you heard one of the prophesies, and now as I read from the Gospel of Luke the 21 chapter you will hear another prophesy, one that was spoken by Jesus himself, about himself. Listen now for the voice of the Lord in the reading of Luke 21:25 – 36.
There are many seasons in a person’s life when there are times of preparation and expectation, so we can say that there are many advents in our lifetimes. Ladies, those of you who have been married, or have had a daughter get married know so well of the season of preparation of the wedding day: the thoughts of the wedding dress, the rings, the reception, the flowers, the wedding party, the ceremony, the announcements, the showers, and on and on. Every day during the season of engagement, a bride never forgets that she is a bride to be. She plans, ponders and things of her future with her groom.
Those of you ,who have children or grandchildren, know of the months of preparation for the birth day of your precious bundle. There is great joy in the waiting and expecting.
Teachers, you prepare each summer, thinking of the lessons, the new students, and your hopes and dreams of the accomplishments you all will have in the new year.
And we can’t forget the preparation that many people make for their funeral, burial, and the service.
From birth, to death and all the markings in-between there are those seasons of preparation. Truly we know that there is stress involved in the planning, there is much joy in the preparation, and there is the pleasure of the special day of the transition in one’s life.
Our God is no different from us when it comes time for planning our future. He, too, has planned for our wedding day, as we one day will be the bride of Christ. God delights in the preparation, in fact, He has planned for centuries for just the time when Jesus was born, and when He will come again. Prophecies are a part of His planning, the birth, death and resurrection were a part of the plans, and as Jesus says, there will be a time when He returns to take us all to be with Him.
So today, let us stop for a bit and ponder who the prophets were, what they spoke, when the spoke, where, why and how. A good news reporter will attempt to include all of this information in their stories, so we will attempt to do that today. Then we will think about what this means for our future as found in the words of Luke chapter 21.
There were over 60 Messianic prophetic messages spoken in writings throughout the Old Testament, but the most were found in the writings of Isaiah, Micah, Zechariah and in the Psalms. There were others scattered in Genesis and Daniel. Every aspect of Jesus life, death, ministry and future were written about during the period of 1450BC to 430BC. And every prophecy was fulfilled 100%.
So who were these men and how did they know what to say. The prophets that spoke these prophetic message about the coming Messiah were men who stood with the priests. Their role was to speak for God to a people group that were about themselves and worldly things they were doing. So what did they talk about?
Isaiah—spoke the first of the Messianic prophetic messages and he was considered to be the greatest of prophets of the Old Testament. He was probably raised in a more wealthy home and was married to a woman who was also prophetic. When he first starting speaking he was well liked, like most prophets. But when he began to speak messages that made people squirm, he began to be rejected. Isaiah, spoke of the child to be born and as we heard he said he would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Pease.
Micah—spoke to the tribe of Israel about God hating their sinful ways, and yet he presented much about God’s love, and the gift of God’s Son born as a baby in Bethlehem. There was judgment and a solution found in God.
Zechariah—spoke to the Jews who returned to Jerusalem to encourage them in the rebuilding of the temple. He spoke about Jesus riding on a donkey and later being sold for 30 pieces of silver.
Psalmists—a number of writers who were crying out to God and speaking the truths they were hearing.
When: 1450BC to 430 BC
Where: to the people of Israel in all of the historical phases of this people group
Why: To warn them, the encourage them, to proclaim what was to come, to proclaim the messages of God
How: How did they know what to say to the people? Each of these men and all of the other prophets had a gifting and a calling by God to speak to the people. They were to speak the future, made under a divine inspiration or revelation from God. Each of these men and all people who are called as prophets or people given the gift of prophecy are people who have spent much time in prayer, sacrifice, and growing in personal relationship with God. God speaks and they know it is God speaking. Each person sees things in ways that the average person doesn’t see or hear. They might see the situation as it is in ways that most others don’t see, because they see with the eyes of the Lord. Or they see things in the future, that others are not able to see. They are able to connect the dots of situations with the wisdom , God has given them, and know what will happen in the future.
This gift is not an easy gift to have, yet it is a necessary gift for the body to recognize. Without prophecy, people will settle for less than God’s best for their life, their church, their future. Without someone seeing and hearing from God, people will stay stuck where they are going nowhere or squabble over who is right with intellect or pride or greed. Only one person can be right, but the right person might not be proclaiming God’s plan without having a pure, intimate, relationship with God.
In the case of each of the prophets of the Bible, people didn’t want to hear the truth. . they often rejected the truth and were left wandering, in a quandary, or losing everything. With God’s plan, there was reconciliation, victory, and fruit.
As difficult as it is to obey, listening to God and doing His plan ultimately brings us to where God wants us to be. And that is exactly where I always want to be, no matter the cost or the challenge of it. I hope you do to.
Now we cannot stop thinking about prophecy without thinking a bit about Jesus’ very own words which I read in Luke 21. Jesus gave the hearers an important prophetic message, one that we must also heed today. He says there will be signs that we must notice and pay attention to because it is then that the Son of Man will return “riding on a cloud with power and great glory. When these things take place stand up and lift your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” He then warns that we be careful of our behavior and actions because they will trap us and keep us from seeing His return.
I am certain the parallel is so very clear to what was happening in His day. All of the prophets had told of his birth, life, death, and resurrection and when it happened they were looking elsewhere and missed the first coming of the Messiah (the anointed one). Now for 2000 years many have missed this first coming, now let us listen intently to the words of Jesus, let us live our lives in His presence with Kingdom living now so that when or if He comes during our lifetime, we will surely see Him riding on a cloud with power and glory and lift our heads, hands and hearts to our sure and reigning King!!
Let us pray.