The Backstory of John the Baptist
Malachi 4:5-6, Luke 1:5-25,57-66
What was the deal with the prophets...what was their job? How do prophecies work? Malachi mentions Elijah, perhaps the greatest of God's prophets. This was written 400 years before Jesus was born. It is the last prophecy recorded on the Old Testament.
Zechariah and Elizabeth, John's parents, were old--well past child-bearing years. They had waited a long time for a child--had probably given up all hope. The people of Israel had waited a long time for their Messiah. Was hope gone there, too? What happens to hope when you have to wait a long time?
How does the angel's message to Zechariah bring hope? Where does this encounter take place. What was Zechariah's response? Here was a priest who was serving God in the Temple, but never expected to experience God's presence? Do we have an expectation of experiencing God while we serve God?
Why was the angel angry with Zechariah? What was the result of Zechariah's doubt?
Elizabeth said, "The Lord has done this for me." She was good at giving credit where credit was due. Are we sometimes guilty of chalking up God's work to being "lucky?"
When John was born and named, Zechariah gained his voice again. Everybody saw this amazing thing and declared that "the hand of the Lord" was with John. What evidence do we have today that God's hand is still with us?
John came to prepare the way for the Messiah--a great study as we are preparing ourselves to celebrate Christmas.
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