By Russ Wilkins
Dir. of Missions, Shiloh Baptist Assoc., Adamsville
Focal Passage: Luke 1:13-25
In the Old Testament God often spoke through prophets to share His plan with the Israelites and ultimately the world. Throughout Scriptures we see that there are no accidents but rather, God has a plan.
Isaiah 14:27 tells us, “For the Lord of armies has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” This year, my wife and I made plans to go to the beach, but they had to be canceled because of the hurricanes. Our plans often change. God’s plans are not like our plans, they are promises that God will keep.
Do you remember when you were a child and there were two promises that meant more than any other? The first was the promise that summer break was coming. Spring break would give you a taste of time off from school and the warmer weather that was coming. The last day of school would finally arrive and that meant summer league baseball, family vacation and staying out to play with friends until the streetlights came on. Summer always lived up to the promise that was made.
The second great promise when we were children was: Christmas is coming. It seemed like it took more than a single year to arrive but when it did, it lived up to the hype. It wasn’t the gifts that made it great (at least not in hindsight). It was the time with family, decorating the tree, Christmas carols and the Christmas story in Luke 2 being read. We had Christmas at my great grandmother’s house with dozens of family members all celebrating together. It was always the greatest few days of the year!
Luke begins with two promises that took longer to take place than Christmas did as a child. They were promises of hope that generations had been waiting for. The first promise is in today’s Scripture reading and it came in response to Isaiah 40:3-5:
“The voice of one calling out,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the uneven ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Malachi 3:1 and 4:5 also prophesy concerning John the Baptist. We see in Luke 1:17 that this child of promise will be a “forerunner before Him…” and John was the fulfillment of these prophesies. John was “planned” from the beginning, he is the first of the promises of Luke 1.
When you read the promises of God, do you ever believe them for others but not yourself? Promises such as “I know the plans I have for you” and that He will “work all things to the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
As we read Scripture, there are so many wonderful promises for believers but as we experience life, it seems those promises cannot be true. If you wrestle with this, you are in good company. In our Scripture today, even Zechariah doubted the wonderful news the angel brought to him. Not just any news, but news that Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth had been praying specifically about.
I’m out of space so, we will talk about that second promise in the next lesson.