Christmas has come and gone, but has your hope stayed?
DECEMBER 28, 2020
Zach Van Dyke:
Christmas has come and gone, but has your hope stayed? Let’s talk on Key Life.
This is Key Life here to communicate the freeing truth that God’s not mad at his children. Steve Brown invited Zach Van Dyke to teach this week. Zach’s the Teaching Pastor at Summit Church here in Orlando, Florida. If you’re a struggling believer, you’ve come to the right place.
Zach Van Dyke:
Thanks Matthew. Thank you guys for tuning in, it’s so good to be with you. I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I hope that it was filled with fun and laughter and joy and all the good stuff. And I’m so excited to be here with you, in kind of the aftermath of all of that. This week, I’m going to be talking about Zechariah, the proph, not the prophet Zechariah, the priest Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. And I started this actually, right after Thanksgiving. So, you know, Steve likes to get through the holidays and then take a week off. And here I am. but I’m following up what I started back then in the series that I’m calling Long Expected Hope. So, last time I was here, we looked at, how the beginning of Luke’s gospel, the Christmas story as told from Luke’s perspective really begins with hopelessness. You’ve got Zechariah and Elizabeth, this old couple who loves God. Who’s been serving God their whole life, but who has been unable to have a baby, now well past when that’s even a possibility and an angel coming to them and saying, guess what? The Lord has heard your prayer. In fact, you are going to have a baby and not only are you gonna have a baby, but your baby is going to prepare the way for salvation. Your baby is going to be the one who prepares the way to make people ready for the coming of the Lord. But as we read, as we looked at the beginning of that story, you can see within Zechariah, a hopelessness. He’s still doing all the religious things. He’s still a priest. He’s still showing up at the temple. He’s still praying for things, but he doesn’t really believe that God’s going to show. And I talked about how I think a lot of us are in that place. I mean, you’re listening to Christian radio right now. You probably went to church on Christmas Eve. You’re, you’re probably, you know, doing all the religious stuff, but can we be honest? How’s your hope? Are you doing all the religious stuff, but you don’t really believe that God’s going to show, you don’t really believe that things are going to get better. You don’t really believe that he’s going to make a difference. When you hear me say God, what comes to mind? Now, my guess is for some of you, all of these attributes come to mind. Some of you maybe are in a really great place, post-Christmas, and I hope you’ll listen all week. I know, last time I was here, I started the week kind of a bummer. I’m starting this week, a bummer too, but it’s important. And especially if you’re in a good place right now, I actually think you need to really listen this week because it’s so much better to kind of wrestle with some of these things, especially when we talk about suffering, when he’s talking about hopelessness, it’s so much better to wrestle with what God teaches about these things, in times that we’re not going through stuff. Because some of the teaching is really hard, it’s really hard to stomach. And so it’s way better to kind of wrestle with this stuff when things are going well, so that when things go wrong, And you all, you know, they will go wrong at some point, you will suffer. There will be circumstances that catch you off guard. It’s good to have wrestled with some of the stuff ahead of time. But I know some of you are listening, and when I say God, even in this post-Christmas haze, you don’t immediately think of chestnuts roasting and warm feelings, for some of you, just too much has gone wrong. Circumstances are too painful, for some of you Christmas hasn’t changed the fact that the divorce still seems inevitable. Christmas hasn’t changed the fact that she didn’t get better, or he’s not here anymore. For some of you Christmas hasn’t changed the fact that you’ve got so much anger or hostility or ambivalence towards God, maybe you’re tired. Maybe you’re tired of being lonely, maybe even more tired of praying to God only to feel disappointed again. Or maybe, you know your sin is great. Maybe, you know, all the ways in which you have rebelled and you, at this point, you’re just like, I don’t know how to fix it. And you just feel guilty and you just feel shame. Or maybe, maybe you hate the fact that God would require anything of you other than just following your heart. If God is so good. If God really loved you, then you should be able to decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong? God, shouldn’t impose himself on you, that’s not love, that’s intolerance. And maybe you thought about how God is all powerful and he can fix everything, and he hasn’t. Maybe, maybe when I say, think about God, what comes to mind? Maybe you think that God is punishing you or is unkind or even worse, uninterested. As we looked at Zechariah at the beginning of Advent, as we looked at that back right after Thanksgiving, I said, God had been silent for 400 years. When Luke begins his gospel, it had been 400 years since God had spoken to his people through the prophet Malachi, 400 years of silence, 400 years of wondering, where is God? Does he still care? Is he even there? God’s people at this point, were being ruled by a hostile government. They had no Messiah in sight. They, they, they had no idea how they were going to be rescued from this oppression, four-hundred years. That’s a long time, but the more I’ve sat with this text, as I’ve prayed and studied over it. I started to wonder, maybe the problem was God’s people were never silent. Always complaining, always comparing their circumstances to others, always demanding that God act according to their will, always worrying and crying and manipulating and serving and performing and rallying to try to earn God’s favor or maybe even possibly obligate God to act a certain way, to bless them. But I wondered how often were God’s people silent. Because of Zechariah’s sin, because he had lost his childlike faith, because he had stopped believing that God could do the impossible. What did the angel say to him? He said, Zechariah, because you have not believed, you will remain silent until these things happen. You will remain silent. You will not be able to speak until your son is born. When the angel appears does Zechariah in the temple to tell him that he and his wife in their old age would have a son who would prepare a way for the Messiah. Zechariah says, no way, even though it’s the very thing he had been praying for at the temple, he was praying for a son. He was praying for a Messiah to come. He was praying for the very things that he ended up doubting God could do. He was still praying. He was still going through the religious motions, but he had lost hope. And because Zechariah had lost hope, because he had lost that childlike faith. He spent all of his wife’s pregnancy unable to speak, or to hear, he spent nine months in total silence. The text tells us that he was unable to speak, but then it also talks about how he had to write things down and people had to write things back to them or make signs to him. So he couldn’t hear either. I mean, Zechariah was in complete and total silence, but then a son was born to him. And that’s what I want to read today. This is Luke 1, I’m going to start reading in the 57th verse.
When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” They said to her, “There’s no one among your relatives who has that name.” Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.
After nine months of silence, Zechariah breaks out in song. Zechariah begins to sing. Nine months of silence led to a song, and this is what he sung. This is Luke 1 starting in verse 67.
His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy spirit and prophesied: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his Holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us– to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his Holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father,Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
That was the song, nine months of silence, led to Zechariah bursting forth in a song, Zechariah breaks his silence to sing, it’s all about grace.
Thank you Zach. That was Pastor Zach Van Dyke, continuing his series called Long Expected Hope that starts with Zechariah, but ultimately of course, points towards the hope we find in Jesus. I don’t know about you? I could use some hope right now. And if that’s you too, then please join us again tomorrow and for the rest of the week, Hey, by the way, with just a few days left in this year, time is kind of running out on your chance to get a copy of the 2020 edition of Key Life Magazine. Have you claimed yours yet? Listen, this issue is loaded with great thought provoking and encouraging content. So why not grab your free copy right now? By calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also email Steve@keylife.org and ask for the magazine. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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