TEEN TREE OF LIFE

God Is Full of Surprises! 

Part 1   

March 5, 2017 

                                       

 

 BEFORE we begin, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, take a moment to name your sins to God the Father. This will allow you to be filled with the power of The Holy Spirit as you read this booklet (EPH 5:18 & 1JO 1:9). IF YOU HAVE never believed in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have that opportunity right now. Simply tell God the Father that you are believing on His Son Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you make that decision, you are now a believer and will always be a child of God! When you die, you will spend eternity with Him forever in heaven! (JOH 3:16 & ACT 16:31).

 

God is full of surprises. In fact, God seems to specialize in surprises, but especially the impossible. We anticipate His Movement in one direction, but He often goes in another. Many times we expect Him to do one thing and He does another. And very often, He surprises us!

 

Sometimes we trust Him to act on something immediately but He chooses to wait and to us, it seems to take forever. Then other times we anticipate waiting for a long time and almost overnight, He has solved what appeared to be the most impossible problem imaginable. Never forget LUK 1:37: “For nothing will be impossible with God.” You should repeat this over and over to yourself and remember it when you feel lost, alone and powerless. This is what’s called APPLICATION and studying Bible doctrine is useless unless you apply it!

 

God loves to do the things that we have absolutely no power to do and that’s the way He has planned our lives. What we call impossible, God sees as no problem at all! Look at MAT 19:26: And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Think of your WORST problem and then read this verse!

 

God’s solutions are better than what we ever could come up with. And what He accomplishes is often more impossible than we would ever imagine!! We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as “impossible situations.” This is part of God’s Pre-Designed Plan for our lives. You might be convinced that there is no way even God could solve a problem and because of this, you miss out on some of God’s Best Work. God prefers to work in that situation which you deem “impossible.” When you throw up your hands and say, “There is no way,” God loves to prove you wrong!

 

We are now going to study an older couple – Zacharias and Elizabeth – who became the recipients of one of God’s most amazing solutions! The Bible does not tell us exactly how old they were, but they may have very well been in their eighties! They were way past the age of being able to have children. Their story is found in LUK 1.

 

The story begins with the words of the prophet Malachi: “‘For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. And you will tread down the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet [John the Baptist, according to MAT 11:14] before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.'”

 

The One called the “Sun of Righteousness,” the Lord Jesus Christ, would be preceded by a forerunner with the “spirit of Elijah.” This prophet that would come ahead of Jesus would come in the Spirit of Power, and he would turn the hearts of fathers back to their children. He would turn the disobedient back to God and His righteousness. His name is John the Baptist.

 

We read in LUK 1:16-17: “And he [John the Baptist] will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” It would be the role of the forerunner, John the Baptist, to announce the Messiah’s arrival. Christmas is a time when we, as ambassadors of Christ, should announce that the Messiah has come, by whatever means possible.

 

The words of Malachi, 400 years before the birth of John the Baptist, were written at the beginning of the inter-testament period (between the Old and New Testaments), during which no further scripture was given to the Jews. The voice of no prophet was heard and the pen of the scriptural writer was silent. It was as if God had abandoned His people and they were left to wonder if Malachi’s prediction would ever come to pass: if the “Sun” would ever shine again. No one in those days would have expected God to begin His process of change starting in the lives of a very elderly couple who had long since forgotten about being all that significant in God’s Plan. This was especially true since the couple lived in the days of Herod: In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. (LUK 1:5) Herod the “great” was the one who, according to MAT 2:16 murdered all the male children in Bethlehem and its suburbs, who were age two and under. He was a terrible tyrant and a political savage. At this time when violence, cruelty, and craftiness ruled the throne of the political authorities over the Jews, when the tunnel seemed longest and darkest, who would have ever expected that God would step in and bring fulfillment to the words of Malachi? No one did! And that’s why we say that God is full of surprises!!

 

Notice something very interesting in LUK 1:5: “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zacharias.” In the midst of the darkness, discouragement, and depression of an era when it seemed that God would be silent for the rest of time, God slipped onto the scene of this earth, and He pointed to an aging priest!! His wife was an aging, gray-headed woman; she was barren (unable to have children) and many Jews believed that she had been cursed by God because of it. Zacharias and Elizabeth were childless, which was a tragedy for a married couple in that time. According to the Jewish Rabbis, there were seven kinds of people who were excommunicated from God; the list began with these two: “A Jew who has no wife, or a Jew who has a wife and who has no child.” Today, we do not live in a land where childlessness is a disgrace. However, in spite of everything, we read some beautiful words about Zacharias and Elizabeth in LUK 1:6-9: They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years. Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.

 

Now, this may sound like a mundane, boring job to us in the twenty-first century A.D. However, at the time, it was considered a great privilege! The common practice was that the priest would go into the Temple accompanied by two associates who would stir up the coals and add fuel to the coals to get them burning hot. Then he would step into the Holy Presence of God and he would pour the incense upon the altar and it would explode into a cloud of incense and smoke, an aroma for “the nostrils of God.” It was Zachariah’s privilege to perform this task because there were 20,000 or more priests who lived in or around Jerusalem and many of them never had this privilege. It would not be uncommon for a man to go through all his years as a priest and never be drawn by lots to enter into the holiest place of all.

 

Little did Zacharias realize it was about to become one of the greatest moments of his life, and that even this experience would be insignificant compared to what was coming in the future.

 

{to be continued}

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