I urge you to read this the greatest and most thoroughly researched report of all time. In order to understand in full the depth of what you are about to read, it would be well to understand a few of the many characters involved:
Dr. Luke…the author, a physician and without question, the most thorough, accurate and important Newsman who ever lived. Today when we hear a news report, we rarely question the reporters depth of investigation, or require them to interview ALL of the eyewitnesses to an event before we accept their report as truth. Luke would not be satisfied until he did just that, interviewed all of the eyewitnesses. Here is his statement of the authenticity of the report you are about to read:
“For as much as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the Word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” (Luke Chapter 1: 1-4)
Zacharias…An elderly “well stricken in years” Hebrew priest of the course of Abia. Zacharias had prayed for a son.
Elisabeth…The wife of Zacharias, who along with her husband Zacharias was elderly and “well stricken in years”. Elisabeth was also barren… (STERILE, INCAPABLE OF HAVING CHILDREN…The new lexicon Websters Dictionary of the English language, Encyclopedic Edition) Like Zacharias, Elisabeth was a child of Israel under the old covenant law of Moses. They were “both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless”. Elisabeth was the cousin of Mary the earth mother of Jesus.
Gabriel…The Angel of the Lord. Gabriel will appear at least three times in this short report.
Mary a very young virgin girl. Mary was engaged to a man named Joseph of the house of David. Mary lived in the town of Nazareth.
Some Shepherds…abiding in the fields and guarding their flocks by night.
It never fails to amaze me that as Christmas approaches, We often hear the report of Luke quoted beginning in the second chapter. You can probably remember the words because if you are churched, you hear them every year.
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caeser Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed every one in his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea unto the city of David which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the lineage of David;)”
Have you ever been taught the “Christmas Story” from the first chapter of Luke’s report? Probably not. Yet, this is a tremendously powerful part of the report and it sets the stage for what happens next, including several huge miracles and two appearances from the angel Gabriel. The first chapter of Luke also reveals two of the absolutely funniest scenes in the entire Bible. If you do not laugh yourself silly over these, then you are far to serious and need relief.
In order to gain the full benefit of this report, you absolutely MUST engage the theater of your mind. You have to close your eyes and imagine yourself on a spiritual journey to a time before Newspapers, televisions, movies, dvds, cds, radios or knowledge of the world outside one’s village or community or country. Yet in this report, the eyewitnesses were exposed to things that were far more dramatic than anything you and I have ever seen.
You must imagine the image of an Angel of the Lord. Here is a report of the eyewitness Daniel of what Gabriel looks like..
“Then, I lifted up mine eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man CLOTHED IN LINEN, WHOSE LOINS WERE GIRDED WITH FINE GOLD OF UPHAZ: HIS BODY ALSO WAS LIKE THE BERYL (a semiprecious or precious stone, a beryllium aluminum silicate, varying in color from white through yellow greenish-blue or emerald to pink. A divalent element the lightest alkaline earth, more durable in moist air than magnesium. It is used in light alloys as a resistant to corrosion, and to slow down neutrons emitted during nuclear fission. The New Lexicon Websters Dictionary.) AND HIS FACE AS THE APPEARANCE OF LIGHTNING, AND HIS EYES AS LAMPS OF FIRE, AND HIS ARMS AND HIS FEET LIKE IN COLOR TO POLISHED BRASS, AND THE VOICE OF HIS WORDS, LIKE THE VOICE OF MULTITUDES.” (Daniel 10:8)
Close your eyes for one moment, imagine yourself going about your daily business and out of nowhere, comes Gabriel. Looking exactly as Daniel described him and you have never seen a movie or a television set or a hologram or any projected image of any kind. Remember this image as you read what happens next. It will cause you to laugh and to cry and to jump for joy. Here then, is the report of Dr. Luke of the events immediately preceding the bodily entry of our Lord, into this earth:
We will begin in the 7th verse of Luke chapter one. Luke is writing of Zacharias and Elisabeth.
“And they had no children, and they both were well stricken in years. And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, according to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.”
“And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. (the priests would go into the most holy place and wait for a message from the Lord and report the message to the people. The priest had a rope tied to his leg in case God found them unworthy and struck them dead. Then the other priests would drag their dead bodies out of the holy place.) And there appeared unto him, and Angel of the Lord. (remember the description you just read of what the Angel looked and sounded like.) standing at the right side of the altar of the incense.”
This is where the theater of the mind comes in. Imagine yourself being Zacharias. How would you react?
“And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled and fear fell upon him. (really now?)
Here comes one of the funniest lines ever delivered. Do you ever chat among your friends about the funniest movie or television lines, like Kramer’s funniest line from Seinfeld…”Was it a Titelist?” Well to me, this is the funniest line of all time.
“But the angel said unto him; FEAR NOT, (Whoops, too late! already ruined my priest suit.) Zacharias for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear you a son, and thou shalt call his name John.”
It is important to understand the power of this scripture. First, ask yourself how Gabriel would have known what Zacharia’s prayer was? Second, consider the nature of the miracle that Gabriel is reporting. We just read that Elisabeth was…”barren and they both were now well stricken in years.” How is this for high drama and deep comedy? Stay in your theater seat, it gets much better. Remember as you continue that Gabriel with eyes like lightning and a voice like multitudes has just informed Zacharias what his son would be named…John.
“And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost ever from his Mothers womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to 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.”
WOW! Now get this picture…Here is this old priest who has tried his best to be good all of his life. All he wants from God is a son. His wife turns out to be barren. They did not have fertility drugs. He has accepted the fact that he is never going to have a child, but he apparently loves the Lord anyway. Now, God sends him Gabriel. Remember the description of Daniel. Gabriel tells Zach that his prayers have been heard and granted to him by God and despite all appearances and all that Zach knows to be truth, God is giving him not just any son but the one described above, a son who will be GREAT in the sight of God. Would you jump for joy?
Watch what happens next. You will be shocked!
“AND ZACHARIAS SAID TO THE ANGEL, WHEREBY SHALL I KNOW THIS? FOR I AM AN OLD MAN, AND MY WIFE WELL STRICKEN IN YEARS”. (You have just read what is quite probably the stupidest question ever uttered by a human. It is enough to make you weep.)
“AND THE ANGEL ANSWERED SAYING, I AM GABRIEL THAT STAND IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD; AND AM SENT TO SPEAK UNTO THEE THESE GLAD TIDINGS. AND BEHOLD, THOU SHALT BE DUMB, AND NOT ABLE TO SPEAK UNTIL THE DAY THAT THESE THINGS SHALL BE PREFORMED……………BECAUSE THOU BELIEVEST NOT MY WORDS…………WHICH SHALL BE FULFILLED IN THEIR SEASON.”
Consider and remember what you are now laughing at old Zacharias for. His unbelief is astounding. He is in the physical presence of a messenger of God and can not believe the message sent to him.
I am not going to quote the entire chapter verbatim. Rather, I encourage you to read it for yourselves. I will summarize what happens next.
Remember the multitudes who are waiting outside for Zacharias to come out and deliver to them the message he went in to receive from God? They are still out there waiting. But now, because of his unbelief, Zacharias can not speak. They figured out that he had seen a vision in the temple because he beckoned unto them and could not speak. As soon as his turn to man the temple passed, Zacharias went home. At some point after that his wife Elisabeth conceived. Then she hid out for five months.
In those days people believed that if a woman was barren, it was because God had punished them. Now Elisabeth in her heart believed that God had taken away her public stigma. In the sixth month that she was pregnant with John who, as Gabriel had promised; was filled with the Holy Ghost in the womb, Gabriel was sent to Nazareth to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph. Joseph was of the house of David and the virgins name was Mary.
Note the difference in the response Mary has to the Angel as compared to that of Zacharias.
“And the angel came in unto her and said, Hail highly favored the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this could be. And the Angel said unto her fear not, (Again with the fear not) Mary; for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou shalt have a son and shalt call his name JESUS.”
“He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
Then said Mary unto the Angel, How shall this be, seeing that I know not a man?” (Mary did not question the truth of what Gabriel told her. She asked how it was going to happen.) And the Angel answered and said unto her, THE HOLY GHOST SHALL COME UPON THEE, AND THE POWER OF THE HIGHEST SHALL OVERSHADOW THEE, THEREFORE ALSO THAT HOLY THING WHICH SHALL BE BORN OF THEE SHALL BE CALLED THE SON OF GOD.”
“AND BEHOLD THY COUSIN ELISABETH, SHE HATH ALSO CONCEIVED A SON IN HER OLD AGE; AND THIS IS THE SIXTH MONTH WITH HER WHO WAS CALLED BARREN. “
“FOR WITH GOD, NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE”.
Take note now of the response from this young, country girl who is a virgin. Her response should be our daily confession.
“And Mary said, BEHOLD THE MAIDSERVANT OF THE LORD: BE IT UNTO ME ACCORDING TO THY WORD.”
Again try to imagine yourself in Mary’s place hearing a similar report from the messenger of God. This young girl like Zacharias and Elisabeth had never seen a movie and into her life appears the Angel of the Lord. How stunning an event is this? Then think about the words of the Angel.
Consider the number of mind numbing miracles you have witnessed in the theater of your mind, to this point:
An old priest has had an Angel of the Lord appear to him.
The angel has pronounced that the priests prayers have been answered and that his barren wife would bare him a son.
A barren woman well stricken in years becomes pregnant.
The Angel of the Lord appears to a virgin girl and tells her that she will be the earth mother of “THE SON OF GOD!’
The virgin girl believes the Angel.
You could not find a movie or story anywhere more engaging. And it is a true news report. This report of the entry of Jesus into the earth in the flesh has been for years falsely called a “story”. Please remember that it is not a story but a historical fact. There is far more “evidence of the truth of the biblical account of the life of Jesus than there is that Julius Caesar existed”.
It gets better. You are about to read about a very powerful visitation of the Holy Ghost. Remember when Gabriel promised Zacharias that John would be filled with the Holy Ghost even in the womb? Read what happens next.
Mary having heard from the Angel about Elisabeth being in her sixth month, goes to visit her cousin. Remember that Elisabeth had been in hiding.
“And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, WHEN ELISABETH HEARD THE SALUTATION OF MARY, THE BABE LEAPED IN HER WOMB; AND ELISABETH WAS FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST; AND SHE SPAKE OUT WITH A LOUD VOICE, AND SAID, BLESSED ART THOU AMONG WOMEN, AND BLESSED IS THE FRUIT OF THY WOMB. AND WHENCE IS THIS TO ME, THAT THE MOTHER OF OUR LORD SHOULD COME TO ME? FOR, LO, AS SOON AS THE VOICE OF THY SALUTATION SOUNDED IN MINE EARS, THE BABE LEPT IN MY WOMB FOR JOY.”
Are you still hanging in their? Did you get it? How did Elisabeth know that Mary was pregnant? How did Elisabeth know that Mary was the “Mother of our Lord”? Who told her? Not the Angel. Not Mary. Not her husband, who did not know and was mute anyway. Here is a hint. How did Jesus know that Lazarus was dead? How did Simon know that Jesus was the Christ? Did you answer that the Holy Ghost, or the Holy Spirit revealed it to her? I thought you did. Now, how many stunning breathtaking miracles is that? Read on it gets even better.
Now the Holy Spirit is going to cause Elisabeth to speak a statement that should teach us all how to live. Here it comes.
“AND BLESSED IS SHE WHO BELIEVED, FOR THERE SHALL BE A PERFORMANCE OF THE THINGS THAT WERE TOLD HER FROM THE LORD.”
These words are so powerful that they summarize the entire Gospel of Jesus. Believe and receive, doubt and do without. (Loyd Skidmore 101) Consider Zacharias and Mary and how different their responses were. Oh yes, How did Elisabeth know that Mary believed the things that were promised her of the Lord? How did Elisabeth know that things were promised Mary of the Lord?
I urge you to get your Bible and read the following verses in which Mary praises God for His promises to her. Note that she has not seen any evidence except that the promises are true. (Luke 1:46-56)
The report gets richer…Now Elisabeth has her baby and the neighbors heard about it and believed that God had caused great mercy to come on her, and they rejoiced with her. Remember the prophecy of Gabriel that many would rejoice at his birth? Now all the busy bodies are asking what the child will be named. They said that he should be named Zacharias after his Father. Elisabeth said, no, his name is John. So the busy bodies told her that there were no members of her family named John and they went and made signs to the father who could not speak, and asked him the child’s name. Here is another hysterical moment. Now that Zacharia has seen the truth of Gabriel’s prophecy he has decided to get on the belief band wagon. So he writes a note to the busy bodies saying that the child’s name shall be John. Immediately his mouth was opened. Immediately Zacharias began to praise God. The busy bodies completely freaked. Check this out.
“And fear came on all that dwelt round about them; and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all them that heard them laid up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.” Of course we know that John was John the baptist described by Jesus as the greatest man who had lived prior to Jesus.
The news report continues in the second chapter of Luke, which you will hear throughout the weeks to come. Please hang in there with me for just a brief visit into the second chapter. You will be glad you did.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And,lo, the Angel of the Lord came upon them.” (remember now the description that you read earlier of Gabriel. Imagine the response from these shepherds when they saw him. Pay attention to the additional visual of the “Glory of the Lord”.)
“and the glory of the Lord shown round about them; and they were sore afraid.” (Is that the understatement of all time?) “And the Angel said unto them, FEAR NOT; (again with the, fear not. Definitely too late this time. The shepherds are going to need a dry cleaner.) FOR BEHOLD, I BRING YOU GOOD TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY WHICH SHALL BE TO ALL PEOPLE. FOR UNTO YOU IS BORN THIS DAY IN THE CITY OF DAVID A SAVIOR, WHICH IS CHRIST THE LORD.”
“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying…GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST, AND ON EARTH PEACE, GOOD WILL TO MEN.”
This was a position statement from God spoken through the heavenly host. That now because Jesus was come into the earth, God’s position with all men is peace and good will. This is important to remember.
Finally, a conclusion: As you re-read this teaching, count the fulfilled prophecies of the Angel Gabriel. Examine the different responses of those visited by the messenger from God. The shepherd boys believed the Angel and left their flocks (a severely punishable offense) to find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.
We have had fun at the expense of brother Zachariah who could not believe though he was in the presence of the Angel of God. To this day, many, even saved Christians find it equally difficult to believe Jesus who was THE MESSENGER FROM GOD in that He is God. Oh yes, it should have been easier for Zach because he was in the physical presence of Gabriel. But then, Jesus said that He would never leave us or forsake us and that whenever two or more of us were gathered in his name, there would he be also. As you chuckle at silly old Zach, ask yourself if you believe Jesus.
Here are a few Words of Jesus that you may choose to consider as Zach did the words of Gabriel:
Matthew 22:29…”You do err not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”
John 14:6…………”I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father, but by me.”
John 14:12-14…………”Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater than these shall he do because I go to my Father. And whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that will I do that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.”
John 16:24…………”Hitherto, have you asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive that your joy may be full”
Mark 11:24……………”Therefore, I say unto you, Whatsoever things you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive and you shall have them”.
Mark 16:17…………”And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; (serpents and deadly poison refer to the greatest powers of the evil one and not snakes) they shall lay hands on sick and the sick shall recover. “
This message was about a choice that we all have using the free will that God gave us to either believe or not believe His messengers. Those who believe see the glory of God.
You have been blessed in all ways…