God Sees, Hears, and Understands

Luke 1:5-17

I. God Sees and understands your sufferings, (Luke 1:5).

In the time of King Herod . . . this was a dark time for God’s children. Herod is one who is called “the Great” because he built some magnificent buildings. He is responsible for rebuilding the temple, but also polluted the land with the erection of temples in honor of pagan gods and institution of pagan games. His reign was also stained with blood. In his later years, he was extremely jealous of his sovereignty and murdered even family members in which he was suspicious. Remember, he murdered all the male children under two years of age. He died unmourned by his kin and hated by the Jewish nation. The expression, “in the days of Herod” thus points to a dark, ominous and calamitous period in the history of the Jewish nation.Against this background Luke now gives the history of the dawn of the new day in the life of humanity—the coming of Christ, which was prepared by the advent of John the Baptist.

We have heard people say, “God doesn’t understand me.” Or, “if God is love, why is this suffering occurring.” Once when I was at a Holocaust Museum, I listened to the guide questioning the goodness of God. “If God is good, then why did He allow so many millions of Jews be exterminated?”

Some of you might be asking the same question.
You have lost your job or have been unable to find a job.You have lost a spouse to either death or divorce.

Problem with sickness.

You are struggling with debt.

You are filled with anxiety and depression.

You feel so lonely.

I could go on and on. Let me assure you, God’s eye is upon your suffering this very moment.

Your suffering is not unnoticed by God.
God sees your suffering and He is always in the process of bringing help to His children, Exodus 3:7.God is aware of the people’s suffering. The ultimate darkness was that the world was without hope apart from some cataclysmic moment.

God saw the plight of a people who were in slavery in Egypt and sent Moses to serve as their deliverer. Now, we have a far greater darkness that is affecting the entire human race.

Let me encourage you with three facts:

a) Your suffering or present darkness will not last forever. There will be an end. The Christmas season we have more suicides than at any other time of the year. One Christmas we had a suicide in our family (Jeannece’s boyfriend). Let me encourage you not to give up. God is on His throne and He will help you if you will let Him. Focus on making it through one day at a time.
b) God will give you the strength to help you through the suffering if you will let Him. He sent prophet after prophet to help His children through the darkness. The problem was that most of the people rejected the prophets which led to further wandering and suffering. He has given His Holy Spirit to live within us.c) There will be a day for those who believe in Christ Jesus where you will no longer suffer and you will have eternal bliss. Revelation 21:1-7; Romans 8:18 our present sufferings are nothing compared to what awaits us.

II. God Sees and understands what we consider fair.

Your lack of visible rewards do not indicate a lack of spirituality on your part.Zechariah was the son of a priest and Elizabeth was the daughter of a priest. To the Hebrews, this was a double and special distinction The name of his father, Zacharias, means, “The Lord remembers His covenant” and Elizabeth means, “My God is an oath, (he is absolutely faithful).”

They were both righteous and upright, (Luke 1:6).

The Jewish rabbis used to say that there were seven people who were excommunicated from God. The first was the Jew who had no wife and the second was the Jew who had a wife but had no children. To the Jews, God had not blessed this couple. Why? Many Jews felt it was because of sin in their life that God had not blessed them with children. “Who sinned, this man or his parents? Neither!” (John 9:2).

Let me assure you that life is not fair the way that we as humans think fair. One family that I knew wanted to teach their boys the fairness of life. As a 4-year-old, the parents, or any adult would have to take turns riding in the front seat. Now, these boys are college students and they struggle with, “life isn’t fair.” Was it fair to this fine couple that they didn’t have children? No, but what they had to realize is that His ways are not our ways. Who are we to say what is fair and what isn’t fair. All we need to realize is that God is gracious to us. And, our momentary struggles are often not because of sin in your life; they are the result of living in a fallen world where all of us struggle in some way or another.  God knows what is best for all of us. See Isaiah 55:8, “Our ways are not His ways.” Do not get discouraged thinking that your life doesn’t matter to God or thinking that your life doesn’t count. I have seen people get so discouraged thinking that something must be wrong because they are not being rewarded with the things of the world

III. God hears your prayers and answers in His timing and in His way, (Luke l:11-14).

The right side is the side of honor and power, (Luke 1:11).His prayer had been answered. The pious Jew prayed for the redemption of Israel. Also, no doubt Zacharias had often prayed for a child. Thus, both of these prayers would be answered. Lighting the incense, which a Priest could only do once in his life, was for the redemption of the people and Israel. In God’s grace, both of Zacharias’s prayers were about to be answered. His son would play a pivotal role in ushering in the kingdom of God.

The name John, according to Hebrew etymology, means “the Lord is merciful” or “the gracious gift of God.” This name refers to the grace of God that was going to descend upon the people. It was characteristic of the acts of God with Israel that He often caused to be given, to those called by Him, names that carried a suitable meaning, as was in this instance. To the significant names of John’s parents is now added the significant meaning of his own name.  By this means it is indicated that the grace of God, soon to be revealed in the Redeemer whose coming is to be prepared by John, is the outcome of His remembrance of His covenant and of His absolute faithfulness.

1979 Wade Watts, an African American pastor and Lee Clary, Grand Dragon of the Oklahoma KKK were invited to a debate. Watts put out his hand, but Clary rejected it. Watts was a black man with a worn Bible under his arm. Watts reached out his hand a second time, Clary shook it. Hello, Mr. Clary, I am Reverend Watts. Before we go in, I just want you to know that I love you and Jesus loves you. The on-air debate ended when Watts quoted some Scripture and asked Clary about his personal beliefs. “I’m not listening any more.” And he walked off the set.

As he was leaving the building, Clary met Watts again. Clary tried to push him out of the way, but then he saw that Watts had a baby in his arms. This is my daughter Tia, Watts said. You say you hate all black people, tell me how you can hate this baby. Clary took another look at the baby and brushed by. Watts cried out to him, “I’m going to love you and pray for you, Mr. Clary, whether you like it or not.”

In the next 10 years Clary tried to make Watts hate him and stop praying for him. Klansman harassed the minister with phone calls, broke windows, and burned effigies in his lawn. They burned down his church and threatened his children. The highway patrol had to escort the Watts children to school. Clary continued to rise in the KKK and eventually became the Imperial Wizard. He lost his wife and baby girl. Then, his hate led him to attempt to unite all the hate groups, (Neo-Nazis, the skinheads, and so forth). Then, he became sickened by the poison and wanted to end it all. He went to his shabby apartment and put a gun to his head to end it all. Then, he looked upon the shelf and saw an old Bible that reminded him of Watts. He opened it to the parable of the prodigal son and read it three times before falling upon his knees and praying for God to change his life. Clary joined a multiracial church and two years later called Watts. Reverend Watts? Hello, Johnny Lee.” Clary told Watts what had happened and he then went and gave his testimony of hatred turned to love in Watts’ church. At the end of the service a teenage girl ran down the aisle to the altar. Clary saw Watts weeping, don’t you know who that is Johnny Lee? That is Tia, my Baby.

IV. God understands the worlds ultimate need; the world needs Him, (Luke 1:17).

John was to be filled with the Spirit from birth. This is unlike the working of the Spirit who would come upon people temporarily. Why is this permanent with John? He needed the fullness of the Spirit so that he could accomplish God’s will,  (Malachi 3:1, Malachi 4:5-6).John was a representative of the fearless prophet of old Elijah. His characteristics and traits would therefore be like Elijah, marked by strength and not by weakness. By bringing people back to God, it will be turning the pious Jews back to the teachings of their “fathers” or the prophets of old. In other words, John would come and prepare the way of the Messiah by pointing the people back to the truth of God as revealed in the prophets.

Rob Jackson
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