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light of hope September 28 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Luke 1. (Note: Today we begin the New Testament. Approached chronologically, the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, weave together into one beautiful story of the life of Christ, according to the order in which the events probably occurred. We hope you will enjoy your study of the life of Christ.

Hope!

When people are desperate they need hope. Those who live in third world countries are in desperate need of food, good water, and medical care. Daily, there are organizations like Samaritan's Purse which bring assistance to many of those in need. Some physical needs require special care. One organization which brings hope for those who would benefit from wheelchairs is Joni Erickson Tada's organization, “Wheels For The World.” They bring hope to the handicapped. Do we bring hope to people? Men, women, and children all over the world need hope from physical despair, but they also need hope from spiritual despair. Who brings us this kind of hope?

The Jews had been waiting over 400 years for the promise of a special messenger, an Elijah type person to usher in the Messiah. He would be the promised one who would deliver them from their oppressors and give them peace (Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6).

In the interim, between the proclamations of the prophet Malachi and the coming of an Elijah, this small insignificant nation was war torn and just about lost her identity as anything but a vassal state. She was allowed to return and rebuild Jerusalem and its walls, but she paid tribute to the nation of Persia for her protection and sustainability. Then Alexander the Great defeated Persia, and Israel was caught in the middle between wars from Greece and other nations. Rome finally conquered the entire known world (see more insights for a detailed explanation of the events between the Old Testament and New Testament, called the inter-testamental period). For over 400 years there were no prophets of God giving additional messages. He was silent, but He was working behind the scenes, preparing the way for the coming of His Son. Has God seemed silent in your life? Silence does not mean He is not working.

Suddenly, in about 7 B.C. an angel appears to Zechariah the high priest. He is in the temple burning incense, offering prayers for the people (and perhaps for his wife and himself; she is childless, and he would like a son to succeed him in the priesthood). Not only does the angel bring a message of hope about the coming Messiah, he also gives hope to Zechariah's family. He prophesies that Zechariah will have a son, although he and his wife are old. His son John will have a greater ministry than the priesthood; he will prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah. John will soon be called John the Baptist because of his ministry. His ministry is described by Luke, the physician, historian, and companion of the Apostle Paul,

And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous-- to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1:17, NIV)

Making preparations bring anticipation and hope. What preparations are we making for the gospel in our families, churches, organizations, and even in our work places? Perhaps God would like us to be like John. John the Baptist will preach and teach repentance and the need for changed lives in preparation for Christ's coming (September 30 Bible study).

Six months later, the angel Gabriel appears to a girl named Mary (Luke 1:26-28). He calms her fears and then gives her a message:

You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end, (Luke 1:31-33, NIV).

This seems impossible to Mary since she is a virgin, but in faith she believes the angel. Immediately, Mary goes to visit her cousin. Elizabeth expresses her faith and hope in the coming Messiah, and the two ladies share each other's joy and wonder in what God has called them to do. Elizabeth will give birth to John (the Baptist), who will be the forerunner of Jesus Christ, and Mary will give birth to Jesus, who will be the Messiah and Savior of the world! Do we share in the joys of others and give them hope and encouragement?

Mary praises God and her prophecy expresses hope for the nation of Israel. She says, “He [God] has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers” (Luke 1:54-55, NIV). The LORD gave the Jewish people hope because He keeps His promises.

Unlike Mary, Zechariah did not believe the angel when he told the old priest that his wife would have a son. Therefore, he was struck dumb. After John was born, however, his tongue was again loosed, and then Zechariah prophesies hope for Israel (Luke 1:67-77). He says, God “has come and has redeemed his people” (Luke 1:68, NIV). Zechariah apparently believes that Jesus will bring a physical deliverance from Rome. He does not—Jesus brings a spiritual deliverance, not from Rome's bondage, but from sin's bondage.

Do we have this hope within us? We will soon learn from an old man, Simeon, that salvation is also for gentiles (non-Jewish people). Jesus came to deliver us from our sins so we can have forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).

Lessons to Live By

  • People need hope from physical despair, but they also need hope from spiritual despair. We should be like Jesus and help them, both physically and spiritually.
  • If you are hopeless, remember God's silence does not mean He is not working.
  • Preparations bring anticipation and hope.
  • Expressing faith in God's plans and purposes also brings hope. It is true Christ has already come, but now we have the confident assurance of eternal life (more...). In addition, we have the glorious hope that He is coming back for us (1Thessalonians 4:13-18).
  • We have hope because God always keeps His promises. Christ is our Savior, helper and sustainer in this life. Let's encourage each other with words of hope.

Focus Verse

Luke 1:17 (NIV) “And he [John] will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous-- to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Here is a video of an angel appearing to Mary

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

Please send your comments to mtbiblestudies@gmail.com

A Look Ahead: There are prophecies about the coming Messiah. How could they (or we) be sure Jesus is the one they are looking for? There are proofs—methods of authentication. Please join us for our Next Lesson so we might Be Authentic Like Jesus Christ.

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