For this Advent season, we are providing the following excerpt from the New Testament volume of More Than a Story, which is being prepared for release for fall of 2021.
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.” (Luke 1:68)
Just as the angel Gabriel had foretold, there was “joy and gladness”! Elizabeth had given birth to a son in her old age! It was a wonderful miracle! Elizabeth’s neighbors and relatives “rejoiced with her.” Surely, the family thought, the baby should be named Zechariah, after his father. But Elizabeth disagreed with them. The baby should be named John.
John? Why John? No one in the family was named John. Elizabeth must be mistaken. The family would ask Zechariah to name the baby. What they did not know is that God had already named this special baby, and Gabriel had given his name to Zechariah. The family asked Zechariah. What would Zechariah call this baby? Since Zechariah could not speak, he wrote on a tablet, “His name is John.”
Do you know what happened then? God freed Zechariah’s mouth and tongue, and he spoke! What were his first words? Before he was struck silent, Zechariah’s last words to the angel were words of doubt, unbelief, and questioning. Now, his first words were words of praise to God!
News spread throughout Judea that this was a special child, and the people wondered who he would be. For the hand of the Lord was with him. But long ago, God had already let His people know about this child through the words of the prophets Malachi and Isaiah. His father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and foretold or prophesied about God’s purpose using some of the words of these prophets.
"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old…to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham…that we… might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." (Luke 1:68-79)
Even though you are not a prophet like John the Baptist, you can tell others about the good news of God sending a Savior. You can pray that God will turn the hearts of those who resist Him to repent and be saved.
“…for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God… (Luke 1:76b-78a)
“And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:16-17)
THAT YOU MAY BELIEVE
What does this story tell us about God?
Talk about the biblical truths (identified with bold text). Make them personal and apply them to what is happening in your family, church, community, or the world today.
How does the birth of John the Baptist show God’s mercy to His people? Why would God send a prophet to His people before Jesus started His ministry?
Talk about This Verse: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.” (Luke 1:68)
Who can you tell about Jesus? What will you say?
Pray: Praise God for being a powerful, promise-keeping God. Ask Him to give you the heart to tell others about Jesus.
Think about: Why would God be silent to His people for 400 years?
John was God’s prophet or messenger. After 400 years of silence, God was speaking to His people again! An animal’s horn was a symbol of its power. Who was this “horn of salvation” that John was to prepare the way for—this powerful person who would redeem or deliver God’s people? The “horn of salvation” was the promised Messiah, the descendant of David, the promised Son of God spoken of by the angel to Mary.
God had broken the years of silence. He was fulfilling the promise made in the Garden of Eden thousands of years ago to crush the serpent’s head—the promise made to Abraham of an offspring that would bring blessing to all nations, the promise made to David of an eternal King coming from his royal line, the promise made through the prophets that God would send a Redeemer to restore His people. Now, He had sent “the messenger to prepare the way,” the voice crying in the wilderness, “prepare the way of the LORD.”
Join the effort to produce More Than a Story: New Testament
Many parents, grandparents, teachers, and pastors made it possible for us to complete the Old Testament volume of More Than a Story. Their generous investments enabled us to illustrate, edit, and print the English version so that it can now be translated for global reach. We are now trusting God to supply the remaining finances needed for the New Testament volume of this valuable resource.
Will you consider the opportunity to help us complete this project? Receive a complimentary copy of More Than a Story: Old Testament as a thank you when you become a monthly financial partner.