Zechariah is a godly man, blameless in the sight of God.
Unlike so many husbands in Scripture,
he had not taken another wife when Elizabeth was barren.
Only once a year did the high priest go into the Temple,
and Zechariah did not expect to see an angel.
Philip Yancey says that angels never say, “Hi.”
They always say, “FEAR NOT!”
For even Gabriel, the angel of good news,
brought fear with His appearing.
He reassures Zechariah:
How many years had it been
since Elizabeth and Zechariah had given up praying for a child?
This was too much.
Unlike Mary, Zechariah doubts, asks for a sign.
Gabriel’s answer is swift and severe.
The consequences are high, as we will see.
Last week we had a good discussion about the difference
between punishment (to make you pay for your sin)
and discipline (to turn you into a great heart.)
God seems to put his best vessels through the hottest fires.
How will Zechariah respond to the discipline of the Lord?
WITH TRUE REPENTANCE.
This is the father of John the Baptist.
John the Baptist who was sent to prepare the way for the Lord,
calling people to TRUE REPENTANCE.
When the Pharisees came, wanting the respectability of John’s baptism,
“Who warned you of the wrath to come?
Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.”
This is what his father, Zechariah, had done,
and this is what we must learn to practice so we
do not quench HIs Spirit
and become great hearts.
What is the difference between atonement, and bearing fruit worthy of repentance? Atonement implies you must pay a price for your sin, whereas bearing fruit worthy of repentance shows you know the price has been paid, and out of gratitude, you want to respond to the Lord’s loving discipline.
You may remember the book/movie Atonement. The younger sister had told a lie that had ruined her older sister’s relationship with one she loved deeply. So the sister spent her life trying to make atonement for the damage she had done.
Again, a younger brother has sinned against his older sibling. I won’t give away the plot-line should you want to watch, but the younger brother goes to “The Church of Second Chances” and asks for forgiveness, but the pastor told him it is not enough to say he is sorry. (John the Baptist would agree.) But he tells him he must make atonement by doing something very hard. Indeed, God may have called him to bear fruit worthy of repentance by doing this particular hard thing, but no one can ever pay for his own sin. Only one without sin could do that, and He did it.
When we trust what Christ did at the cross, we are fully forgiven, cleansed as white as snow, and beautiful in His eyes. Atonement has been made in full. So what are we called to do?
We are called to respond quickly to sin with confession and TRUE REPENTANCE.
A failure to bear fruit does not cause us to lose our salvation, but it does quench His Spirit, hurts our fellowship with Him, and hardens our hearts. Let us consider, with Zechariah as our model, what it means to bear fruit worthy of repentance. For in doing this, God will restore the joy of our salvation, and sinners will come to Him. (Ps. 51) And what an Advent this will be!
1.What stands out to you from the above and why?
It isn’t easy to bear fruit worthy of repentance, because it means saying no to our idols the next time they call — and that always involves initial pain. But we are believing a lie to think our idols are our friends. Women released from prison often hear the siren call of drugs to return to them, but we have emphasized “play the whole tape through.” Indeed, those sirens, if believed, will cause their ship to crash.
2. In the same way, think about your siren call and then be ready to “play the whole tape through.” What will you say to your soul?
3.Read Luke 1:5-7.
A. What do you learn about Zechariah?
B. Christy posted this about this passage — would love your reflections on her reflection and also, to consider what hard thing in your life that was not your fault could be a platform for God.
Barrenness is not a curse, just as singleness is not a curse for me – a woman now in her 50’s. God can work miracles within any circumstance. Barrenness for Elizabeth and Zechariah was the avenue that God chose to bring into the world the Forerunner of Christ Jesus. He chose this path because there could be no other explanation other than it being an act directly poured out of the hand of God. So…Elizabeth’s barrenness was not a curse —it was not a reflection of how blameless and worthy they were of receiving God’s blessing of children… it was the PLATFORM in which God used to bring about one of his greatest miracles. It was HIS WAY of preparing the world for its Savior…..and it was the way of preparing Elizabeth for becoming the mentor Mary was going to need…and soon!
4. Be alert today to bear fruit worthy of repentance and share what happens.
5. Read Luke 1:8-17.
A. What is the sacredness of the setting and why? (verses 8-10)
B. How did Zechariah respond to the sight of Gabriel? (verses 11-12)
C. What was God’s plan for Zechariah’s son? List whatever you find and anything new you see.
6. Read Luke 1:18 and describe Zechariah’s response. Contrast it with what Elizabeth told Mary in Luke 1:46.
7. In what area do you need your faith strengthened in order to resist the siren call of your idols?
8. How is Zechariah to be disclplined according to Luke 1:19-20? How hard do you think this would have been and why?
9. What happened when he came out of the temple according to Luke 1:21-23?
Here is a Children’s Version of this account. I think it is pretty good — but you see what you think:
10. Thoughts on the above?
11. Read Luke 1:57-66
A. What was the disagreement about in 57 to 61? Why, do you think?
B. How does Zechariah show his faith and the fruit of repentance in verse 62- 63?
C. Reading between the lines, how can you see that Zechariah was deaf as well as mute?
D. How can you see that he and his wife had still communicated?
E. Why do you think his tongue was unleashed at this moment?
F. What was the impact on the crowd?
12. What did Zechariah need to repent of? How do you see the fruit of repentance?
Friday: David’s Repentance after Sexual Abuse and Murder
13. Read Psalm 51:7-17
A. How does this prayer show a real desire for a changed life?
B. What does God want according to verse 17?
C. What will happen when we truly bear fruit of repentance (verses 12-15)
14. Have you been able to bear fruit worthy of repentance that you can share? Have you experienced some of what David says will happen? If so, share!
15. What is your take-a-way and why?