Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 5 Study # 10
Thesis: Since God is absolutely trustworthy, our responsibilities are two: seek out His meaning; and place ourselves at the disposal of that meaning.
Introduction: In our study last week we considered the issue of the necessity of a long range perspective. Clearly the "horn of salvation" has not been raised up in the sense that Zacharias meant with his words in 1:71. Therefore, we are under some obligation to understand that God wants us to take Him seriously in respect to both the present realities and His prophecies about the future. It is this issue of the problem(s) that the present lack of provision of what is clearly the promised future reality creates for us that is in view in the text before us today. How are we supposed to handle the absence of provision in the present? The answer is given in Zacharias' statement regarding Yahweh's speech through His 'previous' prophets. So, let us consider both what he has said and what may be some implications for us.
September 19, 2004
- I. The Issue Regarding Yahweh's Prior "Speech".
- A. It's background.
- 1. Zacharias' former lack of joy and general fearfulness.
- 2. Zacharias' transformation through a specific process.
- a. He was confronted with "speech" from Yahweh through Gabriel.
- 1) How Luke switches between "said" and "spoke" is instructive.
- a) When the focus is upon "content", he used "lego" (in 1:24, 63, 66, and 67).
- b) When the focus is upon "sound", he used "laleo" (1:19, 20, 22, 45, 55, 64, and 70).
- 2) The difference between the two is also instructive because "laleo" is the less content-oriented word, but it is a major part of the overall focus of the chapter.
- a) When Zacharias rejected the "speech" of Gabriel, he lost his own ability to speak.
- b) When his obedience by faith was accomplished, he regained his ability to speak.
- b. He handled that "speech" just like he had been "handling" the word of God: he disbelieved.
- c. Over the short term of the time indicated by Gabriel's "speech" he had to deal with the consequences that his disbelief had brought upon him.
- d. Then when the fulfillment of the speech came, he was filled with both joy and a new understanding of the impact of the speech of God (when I believe what God says, my entire being -- body, soul, and spirit -- is moved out of fearfulness into joy).
- B. Its meaning.
- 1. The point of the use of "sound" rather than "content" is what it says about the integrity of Yahweh's words.
- a. It is impossible for Yahweh to utter a sound that He is unwilling to use omnipotence to bring to pass.
- b. When Mary asked how she could become pregnant without a man, Gabriel told her that no word of God is without dynamite [he used the word for particular word rather than overall message].
- 2. The implication of such a highly particularized integrity is that man needs to grasp this fact: there is nothing that Yahweh has "uttered" that will not come to pass.
- II. The Issue Regarding the "Mouth" of the Prophets.
- A. The use of "mouth" is surprising on two counts.
- 1. It is singular with plural prophets.
- 2. It is unnecessary to get the idea of speech across.
- B. The use of "mouth" is instructive on two counts.
- 1. According to Luke 11:54, 19:22, and 22:71 (all have the same phrase exactly -- "out of the mouth"), what comes out of the "mouth" brings legal liability.
- 2. According to Luke 6:45, the mouth reveals the attitude of the heart.
- C. The use of "mouth", therefore, means these things...
- 1. Though there were multiple prophets, there was only the "mouth" of God.
- 2. The "mouth" of God...
- a. Reveals what He will do...for He is accountable for what He says.
- b. Reveals how He loves...for what He says tells us the nature of His heart.
- 3. The people of God need to...
- a. Be very quick to commit themselves to His "speech" (as in 1:38).
- b. Be very quick to discount the differences between what they are experiencing in the present and what Yahweh has said will be.
- V. The Issue of the Characterization of the Prophets.
- A. Their "holiness" has little to do with the "morality" of their behavior; it has everything to do with the way God has "set them apart" as His "mouth".
- 1. The classic example was Balaam, who could not utter speech while under the dominion of God's Spirit that was not true.
- 2. Even the "by their fruits, you shall know them" is about "prophets" and the absolute accuracy of their words.
- B. Their "time in history" is precisely the point: early speech by God is for fortification of the soul, not for demonic twisting into a cause for disbelief.
- 1. They existed over multiple centuries as the "mouth" of God.
- 2. Their words built a cumulative picture of the future that God has said His power will bring to pass.
- 3. Not one "noise" of what they uttered will prove to have been without power.