(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for Connection Class Leaders at Hoffmantown church.)Review:
Last week, we looked at what the Bible tells us about angels. As you may recall, we started by concluding that the original texts never gave Satan the proper name of Lucifer, although the Vulgate and the subsequent King James translations inserted that name gratuitously. So we concluded that Lucifer is not really named in the Bible. There are indeed only two angels named in the Bible, Gabriel and Michael.
We learned that angels are spiritual beings, although they can appear as human. They are messengers from God to communicate with man, they seems to be protectors of God’s holiness and they are also His warriors in the spiritual battle against Satan and his comrades. Maybe the best thing we learned is they have a lot more knowledge and power than we mere mortals and that there are billions and billions of them.
You gave me a couple of home work assignments from that study. First, Sonny asked about biblical support for the concept of each human having a personally assigned angel, a guardian angel to protect them.
This is a comforting idea, but I was not able to find any biblical support for it. In fact, in my 800 or so reference books, I could not even find articles referencing the idea of guardian angels. I was not able to find any use of the term in the Bible. So I conclude that this is a manmade concept, a human-constructed feel-good idea. As we look at the references to angels in the Bible and what they were doing, I did not find any personal assignments, to an individual.
The second assignment that you gave me was whether or not Satan was what Satan is or is his name.
שָטָן [saw-tawn] is a Hebrew word which means a strong adversary, a superhuman adversary. Of course we know that it became a proper noun and what we call the fallen angel who led one third of the angels in a rebellion against God and the one who wants to be equal to God. But the word really means an adversary and was not originally a name. So I conclude that Satan is what he is, the adversary, not his name, although we use it that way. Perhaps this is why the early writers started giving him the name Lucifer, as the ultimate bad guy.
Σατανασ [Satanas] is a Greek word that was derived from an Aramaic word apparently closely related to the Hebrew word we just discussed. In the Greek, its primary meaning is also an adversary and was then applied to the prince of evil spirits, God’s adversary.
So in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, Satan is a term describing the ultimate adversary, which we call the devil or Satan. By use, we use the term as a name, but that is not what the word is about.
Before we took the detour to study angels, we had studied the story of Gabriel appearing to Zacharias while he was burning incense in the Temple for the sins of the people. Remember that Gabriel announced to Zacharias that they would have a son, to be named John, even though Elizabeth was barren and they both were elderly. Although we skipped the verses dealing with the promised son, there are important things to learn related to their son, John the Baptist.
So Today - let’s go back and read about what we skipped a couple of weeks ago.
Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division … an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” --Luke 1:8-17 (excerpted)John the Baptist:
... Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. … “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. --Luke 8:39-44 (excerpted)
... Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her. And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father. But his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called. And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished. And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, … All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, “What then will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him. … “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways ; To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins, Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel. -- Luke 1:57-80 (excerpted)
There are several significant statements made about John the Baptist in this chapter.
And I said, “Hear now, heads of Jacob And rulers of the house of Israel. Is it not for you to know justice?” -- Malachi 3:1Jesus would later confirm that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of this prophesy:
Though all the peoples walk, each in the name of his god, as for us, we will walk In the name of the LORD our God forever and ever. “In that day,” declares the LORD, “I will assemble the lame, and gather the outcasts, even those whom I have afflicted.” --Malachi 4:5-6
They asked Him, saying, “Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” And He said to them, “Elijah does first come and restore all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? “But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him.” --Mark 9:11-13
“And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. --Matthew 1:14
Now let’s do the same thing to learn about Mary, the mother of Jesus. In these verses in Luke, we see Luke introduce Mary into his history. So let’s look at those verses and some of the questions that surround Mary.
Matthew gives us an account of the birth of Jesus, but he writes it from the perspective of Joseph, from the prospective of the Jewish earthly father. Verses 16 and 17 of Matthew Chapter 1 tell us that Jesus was in the line of Abraham and David, through Joseph. We know from previous studies, that Mary was also in the line of David, so Jesus was in the line of David through Mary and by Jewish lineage, through Joseph, although, of course, Joseph was his Jewish father, not his genetic father.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. --Matthew 1:18-25Luke focuses on Mary's point of view, reinforcing the opinion that Luke may have spoken to Mary personally. Here is what Luke tells us:
Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”Let’s recap what we have learned:
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Now at this time, Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” --Luke 1:26-45
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. … The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. --Luke 1:31,35Contrast Mary's response to that of Zechariah in verse18. When the angel spoke to Mary, she seemed to believe the angel but wondered how.
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” --Luke 1:34Remember that Zacharias basically said, I don’t think so, prove it to me.
Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” --Luke 1:18Both were confronted by an angel promising a miraculous birth. Zechariah's response was one of unbelief. Mary's response was not a lack of faith but a lack of understanding. In verse 38, Mary shows her faith in her response of submission to Gabriel's message.
And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” --Luke 1:38These Luke verses reveal Mary's heart for God and her appreciation of who He is. Notice that Mary gives God all the praise, all the glory for what He is going to do through her. She doesn't take any credit for herself; she doesn't imply that she deserves this in any way. In fact, her humility really shines through in these verses.
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” --Luke 1:45Hebrews 11:6 says
And without faith it is impossible to please Him. --Hebrews 11:6God dedicated an entire chapter (Hebrews 11, the hall of faith) to listing people whose lives were marked by faith in Him. It's easy for us to fail to appreciate how important faith is to God. Paul said of Abraham,
...yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. --Romans 4:20-21Hudson Taylor founded and directed the China Inland Mission in the 1800's. It was a large missionary ministry completely financed by voluntary contributions. At one point, Hudson recorded in his journal that there was just 25 cents left in the treasury for the entire ministry. He wrote: "We have 25 cents - and all the promises of God!"
Faith focuses on who God is and what He has said. Our lives, our responses to circumstances, our values and priorities should all reflect our faith in the Lord!
Are you more like Mary or Zechariah in your response to what God says?
Doctrines of Mary:
There are many misconceptions about Mary and what the Bible tells us. These are humanly constructed “facts” which are not supported by the Bible.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. --Luke 2:7
Then His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. --Mark 3:31
“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. --Mark 6:3
Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” --Matthew 12:47-50If Jesus would have wanted us to worship to his mother, he had plenty of chances to tell us that, and did not. In fact he told us the contrary.
While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts at which You nursed.” But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” --Luke 11:27-28
Next week: - Pat and I will be out of town, on the left coast. Terry will continue the study in Luke starting with Chapter 2. Read through Luke 2 to be prepared.
I will be back the following week.