Study # 1
Thesis: Believers handle life by trusting in the God of History according to His Word, not according to what they see.
Introduction: How do you handle your major disappointments in life? What do you do when all you can see is divine failure? Now I know that the typical believer's knee-jerk reaction to the way I phrased the question the second time is denial of the notion of divine failure; but I also know that the typical believer is pretty much out of touch with his/her personal theology. We know the words of good theology so well that we refuse to deal with the reality of our theology. The result is a kind of hypocrisy that all those around us can see in us, but that we cannot see in ourselves except in fleeting, momentary glimpses that we ignore as we hurry on our way of attempting to get others to see us in a good light. I personally think that Luke wrote to Theophilus for the express purpose of bringing the manifest hypocrisy of immature faith to a minimum in the life of a man who really did want to be a friend of God. And I see in Luke's opening record (of the fulfilled-in-history facts) a clear presentation of an example of how mature faith functions in the face of the appearance of divine failure. Therefore, this morning, as we begin to look into Luke's actual record of the details of the things which have been fulfilled in history, we are going to look at a couple who, over time, had determined how to handle the appearance of divine failure.
August 30, 2003
- I. The Reasons for the Appearance of Divine Failure.
- A. Fundamental to the theology of Israel was the sovereignty of Yahweh Elohim.
- 1. All prophecy argues for divine sovereignty over history, for without divine control history cannot fulfill prophecy.
- 2. At the root of the theology of prophecy is Daniel's statement to God in the face of His revelation regarding Nebuchadnezzar's threat: Daniel 2:20-22.
- a. The God of heaven possesses all wisdom and might.
- b. He dominates time and history.
- c. He gives wisdom and understanding to those that have it.
- B. Also fundamental to the theology of Israel was the loving loyalty of Yahweh Elohim.
- 1. Loving loyalty involves the goodness of divine intent in His dominion over the history of man.
- 2. Loving loyalty also involves the integrity of the divine word as it is given to men during their experience of the history of God.
- C. Then, fundamental to Luke's record, there are certain challenges to the themes of sovereignty in harmony with loving loyalty.
- 1. First is the presence of Herod as king over God's people: how, in the name of the Sovereign, Loving God, can Herod be the king of Judea?
- a. The problem involved in the name Herod.
- 1) The name means perceived to be a hero.
- a) The perception aspect involves an evaluation by the majority of humanity.
- b) The hero aspect involves the values of the majority of humanity.
- 2) Ought not a herod to reflect the evaluation and values of the One Who controls history?
- b. The problem involved in the character of Herod.
- 1) On the one hand, Herod spent an enormous amount of money and time restoring the Temple of the Jews -- giving the appearance of being in tune with the theology and desires of godly Israelites.
- 2) On the other hand, Herod sent soldiers to kill the babies of Bethlehem because it was rumored that the King of godly Israelites had been born there.
- 2. Second is the barrenness of Elizabeth: how, in the name of the Sovereign, Loving God, can Elizabeth and Zacharias be childless?
- a. The character of this couple.
- 1) They are both offspring of the priestly lineage of Aaron.
- 2) They are both functionally righteous in the eyes of God.
- 3) They are both named in respect to Yahweh Elohim's character.
- a) Zacharias means "Yahweh (the Eternally Living One) REMEMBERS".
- b) Elisabeth means "ELOHIM HAS GIVEN HIS WORD".
- 4) They are both placed in the course of Abijah.
- a) This course is the eighth of twenty-four, which suggests filial fidelity in that the number eight signifies committed loyalty to God.
- b) This course is named after a man whose name means "Yahweh is my FATHER."
- c) The non-hypocritical position of a priest in the course of Abijah is one of significant relational unity with God.
- b. The condition of this couple.
- 1) They are fixated on the promise of God in Exodus 23:26 and Deuteronomy 7:14 as indicated by Luke 1:13 and 1:24-25.
- 2) They are barren.
- 3) They are old.
- II. How They Handled The Appearance of Divine Failure Over a Long Time.
- A. They relied on the fundamental theology of Israel in contrast to the appearances just as Abraham had taught them (Romans 4).
- B. They maintained confidence in the specific promises which Yahweh had given them.
- C. They practiced the practical holiness of the dailies.