LUKE 1 – 24/7 Worldwide Deliverables
It was only 110+ years ago that most people would swear blind that you couldn’t get heavy machinery off the ground, let alone fly it long distances loaded to the hilt with fuel, cargo and people. Only a few ‘nutters’ were convinced it was true. The general population didn’t know it was true, nor would they consider believing that it might be true, because we’d not experienced it yet.
In this same way, many today refuse to give thought to the existence of a Creator God – much less His ability to be actively involved in, and in control of, life on earth. And yet for the past two millenniums (since the days of people like Luke in today’s chapter), our Maker has succeeded on His deliverables (the greatest promises ever to be offered anywhere in the world) on a worldwide scale and on a 24/7 basis.
If you’ve been following my Breadcrumbs, then you may have noticed that 400 years has passed between yesterday and today! As if it were an “Intermission” between Part One and Part Two of the Creator God’s Epic Play, the curtains now draw open, and the link that bridges time and space is that: the promises of yesterday are supplied today…
“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. [Malachi 3:1]
If you thought that the last seventeen books, that we’ve been dipping into throughout August in Part One of this Global Play, were complex (with each prophet’s part in what has now become an incredible mystery), then the first scenes of Part Two may seem more complex still. Four narrators form a sort of ‘tag team’ on the stage to cover a tiny three-year period. But it’s a period that changed the course of world history forever.
Luke, a medical physician in the first century AD, is third in line on the stage after the curtains open. The opening sentences that Luke uses in his book, tells the audience that a lot has already been whispered widely. In response, and by using his own education skills, he decided to complete his own report for a Roman Politician – as an independent investigator. [v1-4] So, every few sentences in his stage narration, however, needs to be recorded and given to the audience at the end of show. They’ll need to revisit what was said because every sentence holds incredibly significant information. It parallels a storyline that dates back two millennia in the lead up to this history-altering moment.
Zacharias the Priest enters the stage. He and his wife are both from the Priestly line [v5], just as Moses’ parents were two millenniums before.[a] This piece of info, in addition to the fact that they “walked blamelessly” before their Maker [v6] – just as Job was called “blameless” two millenniums before[b] – are both huge things to take note of. Added to this again, is the fact that they were barren [v7] – just as Abraham and Sarah who had a child miraculously, in their old age.[c] Finally, Zacharias and Elizabeth also lived in the hill country of Judea which was, for centuries, the ‘seat of Ephraim’ – the tribe from whom the Creator God’s global “blessing” given to Abraham, would be dispersed like pollen via a “table of nations”.[d] And so, before we’re more than seven sentences into Luke’s book, a lot of puzzle pieces have come together and, as humble as they were, this couple were no ordinary couple.
With a life-journey, and life-style, similar to Abraham and Sarah, their only son (born miraculously late in life) would be special. [v8-17] Similar to the ancient prophet Jeremiah – the prophet to the nations[e] – this baby would be filled with the Holy Spirit even in the womb. [v15] He’d be born with the strength and spirit of Elijah – one of Israel’s greatest prophets. In fact, rumour had it, at the time that “Elijah would come first”.[f] It was a popular saying related to the lead up for the coming “messiah” – a saviour like Israel’s leader, Joshua, whose name means “The Lord is Salvation”. This mix of Moses and Elijah would be Malachi’s predicted “messenger” – in yesterday’s Breadcrumb – preparing the way for the longed-for Joshua-Saviour. And all this is intricately woven into the first seventeen verses of Luke book!
Ok wait… where’s the “pause” button!? …I think we need another Intermission!!
The next person on the stage is “an angel of the Lord”. The tiny word “an” is hugely significant. This isn’t “the” Angel of the Lord who had been in and out of the storyline in Part One. This is “an” angel or, “one of the angels of the Lord”, and he introduces himself as Gabriel. [v19] In Part One, “the” Angel didn’t have a name. He only identified Himself to Joshua as “Captain of the Host of the Lord”.[g] The reason why He didn’t have a name in Part One of HIStory, was because He had the Name of the Creator God embedded within Himself.[h]
So, here I spot another significant change that needs noting before we’re no further than half a page into Luke’s book: the “Captain of the Lord’s Hosts” is missing from this errand of seemingly great importance. If the Creator sent His Captain to deliver success to a nation, why – when He’s about to hand to the planet something that’s been in a developing process for two millenniums – would He not send His top man?
The Angel Gabriel appeared in position at the right side of the altar of incense. [v11] Which is to say that his position in the Holy Place was at the left hand of the One who’s directly behind the altar of incense – on the Mercy Seat of God. This is another clue to the identity of this angel. Gabriel appears as the helper at the left of the One who resides behind the place of prayer – who receives the High Priest’s prayer that Zacharias was in the middle of praying before he was interrupted. Differing now from Part One, Gabriel seems to be sent by Father God, instead of the One who’s normally sent. So where’s the Captain and is He now busy with another role and therefore can’t deliver the message as He had been doing through-out Part One?
Upon meeting this angel, unfortunately, Zacharias muffs it! [v18-20] But the way to understand this scene in the Creator’s epic play, we need to go back to the title on today’s post: 24/7 Worldwide Deliverables. It’s virtually impossible to claim a 100% success rate in providing a product through a development process worldwide on a 24/7 basis. Yet the Creator God is into making the impossible possible.
Putting it in everyday terms, imagine you’re the owner FedEx, the worldwide express delivery service. And, your top director at the minute is standing in front of you asking how it’s possible to meet your objectives for your own company. When one prides themselves on making the impossible possible[i], there’s no excuse for this sort of doubt – not from your top guy on the job at the time!
Someone at middle management level may get away with whispering doubt [v34], but when the owner says it’s doable, it’s doable, and that’s it and that’s all! I imagine words like: “Now walk away and get on with it, and if you have to voice doubt, do it in your car driving home so that I, or anyone else in the organization, won’t have to listen to you! I employ you and put you in this position so that you, of all people, with your study and experience, would intuitively know how it’d be possible.”
The conversation between Gabriel and Zacharias, the High Priest, in these moments inside the Temple of the Creator God at the start of Part Two of HIStory, is far too important. The worldwide “deliverable” had been part of a developing process through at least seventeen Books of Prophecy with plenty of puzzle pieces to put together. It was simply ‘not an option’ to have this messed up, before Part 2 of the Show got underway, by somebody saying: “How can I be sure of this?” [v18]
Far from getting fired on the spot, Zacharias simply loses his voice in the company for the next nine months. To take the voice of a priest is a pretty severe thing – especially while he’s in the act of trying to pray for the nation! But if you’re wondering why the Creator God is so strong in His discipline – after all, Zacharias was right in his question i.e. he’s old and so is his wife – just remember that Zacharias is the top priest for the One who specializes in making possible the impossible [v37] since the very beginning of HIStory.[j]
So, until his baby is born, Zacharias’s is reduced to listening; searching his Creator’s Handbook (no doubt noticing all the places where the impossible was possible); and allowing his Maker’s Word to speak…
Upon the birth of his child, Zacharias the priest prophecies. [v67-79] But when he first got his voice back, his opening words weren’t about his own son. Talking about the “house of David” [v69] – a different tribe to the Levite priests – Zacharias is clearly speaking about someone else from the Royal Line of David. [v26-27] Another baby who will be a redeemer [v68] and the strength of God’s salvation. [v69] This “rising sun” who comes to us from heaven [v78], will fulfil the global promises that the Creator swore on oath to Abraham. [v73] A sinless person [v75], He’ll be someone who will finally enable us to serve God 100% without fear [v74] – i.e. without the fear of wondering if it’s possible to believe the impossible: salvation and forgiveness on a worldwide 24/7 scale. [v77]
Then, about his own son, Zacharias uses Malachi’s prediction. His son will prepare the way of “the Lord”. [v76] This tells us that Malachi was right: the next person to come won’t be just another prophet. The next person, in John’s lifetime, will be Immanuel – God with us – just as Isaiah said eight centuries before.[k] Zacharias finishes his prophecy with two clue for when/where/who. This person will shine light on the knowledge of salvation [v77], in the region of darkness – in the land of the shadow of death. This, at the time was known as the area of Galilee.[l]
Therefore, the stage scene changes to a village several miles away. There, a young girl was delivered a package that no other person on earth at the time, fitted the bill for the one able to open it. [v26-56] Mary had been linked irreversibly by agreement, to be “one flesh”[m] with a man of royal blood and had herself come from the priestly bloodline – being a cousin of Elizabeth, Zacharias’ wife. Her offspring, Gabriel said, would be named Yeshua – a variant of Joshua: “The Lord is Salvation” – and would be considered both royal and priestly [v31-33], as well as the Holy Son of God. [v35]
So, the news that the angel Gabriel brings is Good News. [v19,30-33] And, when the Creator God says it’s good – as He did throughout Genesis 1 at the start of HIStory – it can’t be any better. It’s 100% perfect news! It’s the only news worth talking about. It’s news that will make good, and put back to right, 100% of everything globally – not just some of the things that has become wrong. Since the beginning of the Creator’s epic storyline, this is the first piece of news, that has been specifically identified as “good” and directly sent to earth from the Creator God.[n]
And so, this complex 3D puzzle, with pieces that interlock across whole millenniums, is coming together in an incredible “worldwide deliverable”. The Creator’s Global Masterplan is heading in a specific direction with a definite time of arrival for its final destination. It’s happening in the invisible, just as surely as flight plans are organized and flight paths are taken every day above our heads, without our conscious awareness – out of sight, out of mind. And, today’s chapter is the crossroads.
Luke Chapter One intersects in time and space to everything that Part One of this “development process” has promised for more than two millennia. It’s that place where the “arm of the Lord” – His righteous right arm by which He has performed mighty deeds [v51], will finally be revealed.[o] As unbelievable as all this was, regardless of the fact that it seemingly defied the Law of Physics and the Laws of Probability (as we now know it), Mary had only one choice: to trust and obey. [v46-56]
But apart from a nice story at Hanukkah – the Festival of Lights (or the season of Christmas), which is still months away, I had to wonder what any of this meant to my life today?
As I sit here typing to you this morning, our oldest daughter is in flight above France, on her way to South Africa; my husband just returned from Colombia, and our youngest is in Seattle. So, I couldn’t help but wonder what the fulfilment of Malachi’s prophecy in Luke 1, had to do with the surreal feel of modern day life today.
A hundred years ago, for example, the vast majority of people would swear blind that you couldn’t get heavy machinery off the ground. Most people still don’t know how planes fly (often in the dark) in a straight line, and without more accidents! In 38 years of air travel heading to more than 110 countries, Mark’s flight to Colombia was only his second to present concern. Two hours out of Germany, they had to dump fuel over the Atlantic and return to Frankfurt due to a mechanical fault.
Yet safe flight has been possible since the Creation story, we just didn’t know it was true because we hadn’t experienced it yet. Today’s well-oiled invisible aviation network has been a true fact, whether we believed in it or not, or whether we had the mental capability, or resources, to prove it. So, whether we’ve read the books of Isaiah, Malachi or Luke; whether we can get our heads around the possibility of our Maker’s 3D puzzle, or the probability of being able to reverse engineer the mechanics of HIStory, doesn’t take away a fraction of His ability to delivery to the world what He’s promised us.
If it’s something that the Creator God put in place (and has worked continually for since Genesis 3:15), our ability to see it, or believe it, is irrelevant. The simple truth is: there’s a Creator God. And, through a developing process, He’s delivering the best gift ever on a worldwide scale and on a 24/7 basis. Knowing now the truth of all this (and what my Maker is quietly up to) can be unbelievable and, at times, scary – especially when the invisible becomes more than real, as it didn’t for Zacharias in today’s chapter. [v21-23] But, then again …from where I sit… He’s mostly amazing!
CLICK to return to today’s “Daily Breadcrumbs”
[a] Exodus 2:1
[b] Job 1:1
[c] Genesis 18:1-15
[d] Genesis 12:2-3 was handed down for the third and last time to Ephraim in Gen.48:12-20 (ref: v19)
[e] Jeremiah 1:5
[f] Mark 9:11-13
[g] Joshua 5:13-6:2
[h] Exodus 23:20-21
[i] Matthew 19:26
[j] Genesis c1 and Hebrews 11:3
[k] Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23
[l] 1 Kings 9:11-13; Isaiah 9:1-2 and Matthew 2:19-23; 4:15-16
[m] Genesis 2:24
[n] Isaiah 40:9; 41:27; 52:7; 60:6; 61:6
[o] Isaiah 53:1 and John 12:38