Archive for the ‘prophet’ tag
The text for this lesson is Luke 1:57–80.
- Through Zechariah, God said John would give knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness of sins. Through His Holy Word, God speaks to give us knowledge of salvation and forgiveness through Jesus, His Son.
- Law: The world, including me, was lost in the darkness of sin and death.
- Gospel: God gives me pastors and others who preach the Good News that Jesus came to be my Savior.
- Have you ever been told that you have to learn to forgive yourself when you feel guilty about something? As a Christian, what is the problem with that statement? Read Psalm51:1–5. What might David tell us to say instead of “You have to learn to forgive yourself”?
- In the ancient world, names carried much more meaning than they do in our culture. We say in the Lord’s Prayer that God’s name is holy by saying “Hallowed be Thy name.” Last week, we learned that Jesus’ name is significant because it means “the Lord saves,” and Jesus was born to save His people from their sins. Luke 1:13 says that Gabriel instructed Zechariah to name his son John, which means “The Lord is gracious and moved to pity.” We see in Luke 1:59 that the neighbors and family of Zechariah and Elizabeth expected the boy to be named after his father. How was the name John appropriate for his mission? What is the significance of having the name of God placed upon us in Baptism? See Matthew 28:19.
- When would you hear the word covenant used today outside of biblical usage? Read Luke 1:68, 72–73. When these verses are connected, they show Zechariah saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people . . . to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath that He swore to our father Abraham.”
God made many covenants with His people and always swore to be faithful to them. The central thought of Zechariah’s prophecy is that God remembers His covenants. The covenant referred to here is the one God made with Abram (Abraham) in Genesis 15; the oath is found in Genesis 22:15–18. All of the covenants God made with Israel were fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus. Read Jeremiah 31:31–34. What did God promise to do here? Read Luke 22:20. How does Jesus show that we live under the new covenant?
- The Old Testament prophets had many roles. They encouraged the people to rely on the Lord’s strength and not their own. They called on the people to remember God’s covenants with them. They proclaimed the Lord’s faithfulness based on the saving acts He had performed in the past. And they prophesied what the Lord would do for His people in the future.
All of these prophetic functions are included in Zechariah’s prophecy in Luke 1:68–79. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, who allowed Him to prophesy (Luke 1:67). What would his son, John, do as a prophet (Luke 1:76–77)? Whom would John prophesy about (Luke 1:78–79)? Who else had prophesied concerning John (Luke 3:4)? Who was the last and greatest of the prophets (Luke 4:24)?
- Psalm 51 shows us that sin is what separates us from God. “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:4). The forgiveness of sins is emphasized in Luke and in the Bible in general. Luke tells us that salvation is found in the forgiveness of sins (Luke 1:77). John the Baptist identifies Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
How would John the Baptist deliver forgiveness to people (Luke 3:3)?
What does Jesus identify as the essential message of the Christian Church (Luke 24:47)? What is the basis for that message (Luke 24:46)? Why is this message so important?
- A word closely related to the forgiveness of sins is righteousness. Zechariah says in Luke 1:74–75 that the Lord granted His people to “serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.” Read Romans 4:1–9 and Luke 18:9–14.
What does the word justify mean? What does it mean that God “justifies the ungodly” (Romans 4:5)? In Luke 1:6 and 2:25, Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Simeon are described as “righteous.” Why are they called righteous? How are people justified?
- People are insultingly called “holier than thou” when they flaunt their piety and good works before others and condemn behaviors they consider unholy. The temperance movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was a holiness movement intended to make the production and use of alcohol illegal. Holiness churches require their members to abstain from things they consider unholy, such as alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine.
What understanding of the word holy do we get based on the examples above? Read Luke 1:49, 70, 72, 75; 3:16. What do we learn about holiness from these passages? List as many things as you can that go on in Lutheran churches and that we call holy. What makes these things holy?
- What is mercy? See Luke 1:50, 54, 58, 72, 77–78; 6:36; 10:37. What do we learn about God’s mercy from these verses? What do we learn about the mercy we are to show to others?
- What is your idea of perfect peace? Luke 1:79 says that Jesus will “guide our feet into the way of peace.” In 2:14, we are told that Jesus’ birth has brought “on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” Read Luke 2:29–30. How was peace brought to Simeon? Read Luke 24:36–39. How does Jesus show His disciples true peace?
- In Luke 1:57–66, we see the neighbors and relatives of Zechariah and Elizabeth playing an important role in the circumcision and naming of John. Close relationships with extended families and tight connections with the community were the norm at this time. Many people never traveled more than a couple days’ journey from where they grew up. This is hard for us to understand.
While we can be thankful for the blessings of increased mobility in our times, we also should recognize the consequences, such as the disconnection of most of our lives from extended family and neighbors. Many people feel isolated and that their lives are fragmented and chaotic with no solid foundations anywhere. Since Christian congregations are made up of sons and daughters of God who are brothers and sisters in Christ, what responsibilities and opportunities are presented to the Church by our cultural climate?
The text for this lesson is Luke 1:57–80.
- Zechariah spoke God’s Word announcing that John would give people knowledge of salvation in the forgiveness of sins. God speaks through His Holy Word to give me knowledge of salvation and forgiveness through Jesus, His Son.
- Law: God wants me to listen and obey Him, following His ways.
- Gospel: God looks at me through the obedience of Christ and is pleased.
The text for this lesson is the book of Jonah.
- Just as Jonah was swallowed up in the belly of the fish for three days, so Jesus, in His crucifixion, was baptized into the sea of death, drowned in our depravities, devoured by the grave, and spewed forth alive again after three days and nights that He might save us, the Assyrians, the Ninevites, and Jonah.
- Law: In my sin, I judge and condemn others. I am unforgiving because I am blind to my own sin and guilt.
- Gospel: God, who sees my sin, is rich in mercy and forgives me for Jesus’ sake.
The Assyrians were the forerunners of the world’s Hitlers, Mussolinis, and their ilk. Icyblooded, tyrannical people were they, infamous for such crimes as impaling conquered peoples on tall poles. And, as if to boast to their posterity, they chiseled stones with pictures of such brutality! They were easy to hate, in other words. Jonah’s lack of love for them would have been shared by very many of his countrymen. Nineveh’s repentance and faith following Jonah’s preaching would not last forever. About a century later (around 650 BC), Nahum lambasted Nineveh for its evil ways, but his message went unheeded. This led to the city’s destruction by God, through the Babylonians, in 612 BC.
- The Word of God spoken by the prophet was in and with the water of the Jordan to restore the flesh of Naaman; the Word of God spoken by the pastor is in and with the water of the baptismal font to cleanse us of our sin and restore us as children of the heavenly Father.
- Law: Sin and its effects slowly kill me, both in body and soul.
- Gospel: Jesus saves me, both in body and in soul. He cleanses me from sin and at the resurrection will heal my body and make it perfect, so it will be like His.
Elisha, successor to Elijah, lived in the mid-to-late ninth century BC. His ministry was concentrated mainly in the Northern Kingdom during the reigns of four Israelite kings: Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Jehoash. There was bad blood aplenty between Israel and Syria—Naaman’s home turf—dating back to Solomon’s day and beyond (e.g., 1 Kings 11:23–25). In fact, the king before whom Naaman appears, Jehoram, lost his own father, Ahab, to the Syrians just a few years before (1 Kings 22:29–40).
Note that some English translations render “Syria” as “Aram” (e.g., NIV), but both names refer to the same country, located north and east of Israel. The Hebrew word usually translated as “leprosy” actually encompassed a variety of skin disorders. So whether Naaman actually had what we call leprosy (technically known as Hansen’s disease) cannot be proven. Either way, his skin disease was serious enough to prompt him to undertake a long and potentially dangerous journey.