SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON FOR THE WEEK OF NOVEMBER 18-24, 2020
AIM: CONSIDER the story of God’s miraculous gift to Zacharias and Elisabeth; REFLECT on the times we have doubted God and that He has given an answer to our prayers. Then GIVE thanks for the miracles God has worked in our lives; for the prayers He has answered and even for the ones He didn’t answer (or so we think)!
On a scale of 1-10 how would you rank your faith? I marvel at the things and the people we put our faith in! We think nothing of getting in a car and go 60-70 mph and not stop and think anything about the car giving out! Or, that the next person’s car may give out, that person may become ill, may be preoccupied or mad at the world. We can go to a doctor, get a prescription we can’t read, give it to someone at the pharmacy we don’t know; get the medicine that we can’t pronounce and expect it to help us. But. . .we can’t put that type of faith in God!!!! The first calling that we have as Christians is the call to believe! REMEMBER without faith it is impossible to please God! (Hebrew 11:6)
As the parents of John the Baptist, Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth formed the link between the Old and New Testament. God’s visit to Zacharias marked for Luke the beginning of the things that God promised to fulfill among His people. God, after 400 years, once again visited Israel and rose up a prophet who would prepare the people for the coming Messiah. Zacharias and Elisabeth’s son John had a mission to announce the coming of the Messiah and Redeemer. Luke 16:16 (NLT)“Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in.
Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth were both descendants of Aaron, a priestly family. This was considered a special distinction. Just as it was an honor for Mary to be chosen as the mother of Jesus, so too it was an honor for Zacharias and Elisabeth to be chosen as the parents of John the Baptist, the one whose voice cried in the wilderness, “Make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3).
The names Zacharias and Elisabeth carry special meaning. Zacharias means “remembered of Jehovah,” while Elisabeth means “oath of God.” God’s remembrance of His covenant and His faithfulness to His people are clearly central to understanding the coming of Christ in the fullness of time.
However, before the birth of Christ was the birth of the one who announced His coming, John the Baptist. Today’s lesson will show how his birth was a miraculous gift to an answered prayer.
In Luke 1, we see Zacharias serving as the priest tending to the Altar of Incense in the Temple. His job is a job of high reverence. The Altar of Incense is expressive of the prayers of God’s people reaching heaven. As Zacharias tends to his priestly duties at this altar, the Angel Gabriel appears on the right side of the altar to deliver Zacharias a message. This message was for both Zacharias and Israel.
The answer that was coming was an answer to the prayers of Israel and the prayers of Zacharias and his wife. Zacharias and his wife, Elisabeth were up in years and childless. Israel was living in dark times and praying for the coming of Christ. Gabriel comes to Zacharias to let him know John the Baptist’s birth will answer both of those prayers.
Our series leading up to Christmas is one word – “CALLED!” Let’s look at the definition of several words simple, small words that will keep coming up in the lesson.
- Call – means. . .
- Strong impulse or inclination
- Unbelief – means. . .
- An absence of faith
- Doubt – means. . .
- A feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction Mark 9:24 (GNT) The father at once cried out, “I do have faith, but not enough. Help me have more!”
- To stand in two ways, implying uncertainty which way to take
- Said of believers whose faith is small – Matthew 14:31 (NIV)Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Luke 1:8-13 (KJV)
8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,
9 According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
We are called to. . .
I. Believe That God Moves at His Own Time and His Own Way!
4 There is an hour and a time that God will move. . .but only at His time and pace
ü Jesus said to her, “ Jesus answered, “Dear woman, why come to me? My time has not yet come.”.” John 2:4 (NCV)
ü When Jesus said this, they tried to seize him. But no one was able to touch him, because it was not yet the right time.. John 7:30 (NCV)
ü “Now I am very troubled. Should I say, ‘Father, save me from this time’? No, I came to this time so I could suffer.. John 12:27 (NCV)
4 Old School: He may not come when you want Him but He is always on time!
II. Believe that He will hear and answer your prayer
4 Wait on God and wait in God
ü Don’t mind waiting on The Lord
ü Wait on Him no matter how long it takes!
Psalm 25:5 (NKJV) – Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.
Psalm 27:14 (NKJV) – Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!
Psalm 62:5 (NKJV) – My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.
Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV) – But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
Luke 1:18-22 (KJV)
18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.
22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
III. Believe That People of Faith Will Experience Doubt
4 We all have times when we doubt.
4 Momentary doubts cloud the skies of believers –
1) Abraham – as to the inheritance of Canaan – Genesis 15:8 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
2) Gideon – as to victory over Midian – Judges 6:17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.
3) John the Baptist as to the Messiahship of Jesus – Matthew 11:3. . . “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
4) Martha – as to the resurrection of Lazarus – John 11:39. . .“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
5) Thomas – as to the resurrection of Jesus – John 20:25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
- Early Christians – as to the deliverance of Peter – Acts 12:14-15 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so happy she forgot to open the door. Instead, she ran inside and told the group, “Peter is at the door!” 15 They said to her, “You are crazy!” But she kept on saying it was true, so they said, “It must be Peter’s angel.”
4 Answer delayed is not answer denied
ü We don’t know how many times Zacharias and Elisabeth questioned whether God ever heard their prayer!
ü John’s life had a purpose, but that purpose had to be served at a specific time. His preaching set the stage for Jesus!
ü The first five words in verse 8 – “and it came to pass” – should give encouragement to our hearts
4 Doubt focuses on what we can’t do, rather than what God CAN do!
ü Doubt hinders the mission, faith moves the mountains!
Matthew 17:20 (NKJV) – So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
ü Doubt stalls our mission, prayer is the fuel to the mission!
Habakkuk 2:4 (NKJV) – “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.
Luke 18:1 (NIV) – Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
Matthew 21:22 (NIV) – If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
4 Doubt robs us of blessings
ü Gabriel represented God and God has a plan.
a) He wasn’t there on his own authority, he was there an ambassador for God’s authority.
Ephesians 6:20 (NIV) – for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
2 Corinthians 5:20 (NIV) – We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
b) When we receive that Word and authority, we move our lives under the blessing of God
ü Zacharias was supposed to emerge from the Holy Place and proclaim God’s blessings over Israel – but he was now mute because of his doubt
a) Gabriel was to share the Good News with Zacharias and Zacharias was to tell the Good News to Israel
b) but. . .Zacharias was unable to tell Israel the Good News: his son was being born to prepare the way for Christ!
ü A church without faith is doomed to the same condition.
a) Doubt keeps us from sharing God’s best with others.
b) Doubt keeps us from living fully into the blessings God has for us.
Point to Ponder: What blessings is doubt causing you to forfeit?
Luke 1:23-25 (KJV)
23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
- Believe that God’s Promises are God’s Promises
- And it happened just as Gabriel told Zacharias it would.
- There was good news for Zacharias and Elisabeth.
- There was good news for Israel.
- There was good news for the world!
- But Zacharias was powerless, speechless!
- Unable to exclaim the joy of his son.
- Unable to bring hope in the dark days of Herod and the apostasy of Israel.
- These are dark days today! Will God find His Church mute?
ü God’s plans will come to fruition with or without you!
a) His church is preparing for the return of Christ.
b) His plans and blessings are being poured out on those who will trust in Him more than themselves or the world.
4 When God speaks it is our responsibility to believe His Word.
Point to Ponder: In these trying, last days will you be a Gabriel – representing God in this world; or, will you be a Zacharias and say, “how can this be?” and show doubt as to what God is doing, has done and will be doing?
PRAYER PRINCIPLE: Be thankful for the miracles that have been delivered on our behalf despite our doubts and disbelief.
SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE: Encourage others by sharing with others when you doubted and disbelieved yet a miracle came through.
EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE: Tell of the greatest miracles associated with the birth and death of Christ and how it has enabled us to live victoriously and eternally.
STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE: Our giving provides for those in need of a miracle.
DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE: Even though you may be in a season of doubt, reflect on how you have been provided for in your past and hold fast to what has been promised.
NEXT WEEK’S TITLE: Called to be a Vessel
NEXT WEEK’S READING ASSIGNMENT: 2 Kings 4:1-5; Isaiah 55:6; Psalm 34:10; 2 Kings 5:10; Isaiah 40:3; John 9:7; John 11:39; Revelation 7:13-14; Matthew 6:6; Jeremiah 18:2-4; 2 Corinthians 4:7-10; 1 John 4:4; Ephesians 2:10; Luke 1:26-38, 49; Philippians 2:9; Acts 3:6; Ephesians 5:20; Acts 4:12