You are forgiven and loved because of the tender mercy of God.
DECEMBER 31, 2020
Zach Van Dyke:
You are forgiven and loved because of the tender mercy of God. Let’s talk on Key Life,
This is Key Life. We are here to communicate the freeing truth that God’s not mad at his children. Zach Van Dyke is the Teaching Pastor at Summit Church here in Orlando. And he’s been teaching us all this week. If you’ve discovered that just trying harder, doesn’t make you better, then welcome to the party.
Zach Van Dyke:
Well guys, we are here at the end of the week. Actually, the end of the year. Tonight is a big celebration and Happy New Year’s Eve everyone. I hope that 2021 is just incredible. Tomorrow, Steve and Pete will be back with Q & A, but I’m glad to spend this last day of 2020 with you. We’ve been wrapping up something I started back at the beginning of Advent, right after Thanksgiving, I started a series called Long Expected Hope, where we’ve really looked at how the gospel begins. Luke begins his gospel with hopelessness, and it’s in that context, that hope enters the story. So we’ve been looking at the story of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist and the hopelessness, him and his wife had experienced, not being able to have a child. And we’ve really kind of looked at, alright, what does it mean for us, especially in a season where it’s all about hope, what does it mean for us who are struggling with hopelessness? So we spent that week kind of looking at that, and then all this week has really been about the response of Zechariah to being forced into silence for nine months. So when the angel appears to Zechariah and tells him the good news, tells him a Messiah’s coming, and guess what? Your son is going to prepare the people for the Messiah. Zechariah’s response is, that can’t be. I’m old, my wife’s old, that can’t be. So the angel says to him, listen, because you did not believe, you’re going to be silent, until it happens. And so, for nine months, Zechariah is silent. And not only is he not able to speak, but he’s also not able to hear. I mean, Zechariah is in complete and total silence. And as I, as I looked at the song, he sang, when he breaks his silence, when he’s finally able to speak, and just the depth and the beauty and the power of the song, the hope in the song, it made me long for that kind of silence. It made me want to get away, for nine months and not be able to hear anything or say anything and just sit in silence, because we don’t do that. As Americans, especially we don’t do that, we have so much going on. I mean, in fact, in our pockets, we all have a little device that will distract us at any moment, like you and I, we don’t even have to sit in silence, waiting for our food to come or like at a bus stop. We don’t have to ever be still and silent. We always can be distracted, but Zechariah was forced into a silence that really led to a deep appreciation for the gospel. Zechariah declares the gospel so beautifully in this song. In fact, what he prays over his son, he says, my son, you are going to declare to the world, you’re going to prepare the world for the forgiveness of sin because of the tender mercy of God. And so, as I sat with Zechariah’s song, this song that we’ve been looking at all week, I couldn’t help, but just be in awe of his understanding of salvation. And that only came because of the silence. And in that song, he also talks about the holy prophets of long ago. And, and that got me thinking, wow, in that silence, what would Zechariah have been thinking about? Like what would have come to mind? Well, as a priest, as a good Israelite, Zechariah knew the Scriptures, which at the time was just the Old Testament. And probably, he had most of it memorized. So in that silence, I’m sure God’s word came to mind, again a very good reason to study and memorize God’s word, so that in the silence, that’s what comes to our minds. I said, I think it was yesterday, that whenever I’m silent, I inevitably start singing, Let It Go. I can’t stand that song. I can’t, but it’s just, it’s gotten in there. It’s deep in there. And so, in my silence, that’s what comes out. But for Zechariah, I’m sure, Scripture just kept coming to mind again and again and again, and as he’s painting this picture, as he’s prophesying what will happen, what is coming, what is coming with the Messiah, he thought about the prophets of long ago. And so I just, as I, as I read through his song and as I looked at the words, I start thinking, like, I wonder what prophet he was thinking about when he sang that. And yesterday we looked at, at this word redeemed. He used this word redeemed, which has this meaning of someone being freed from bondage through the payment of a price. And I couldn’t help, but think Zechariah had to have been thinking of Hosea, the prophet Hosea, who had to go and buy back his wife who left him, who was adulterous, who had become essentially a sex slave. He had to go buy her back and God said, do it. I want you to go and buy her back. I don’t care what she’s done. I don’t care how she’s hurt you. I don’t care how adulterous she has been. I want you to buy her back and love her. And so when Zechariah speaks of our redemption, of us being freed from bondage to the payment of a price. I’m sure he had that image of Hosea buying his wife back. And as a priest, I started thinking, Hmm. He had to have had the prophet Zechariah in his mind as well. Think about it. That’s his namesake. He was named after the dude. And in the song that Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, he sings to enable us to serve him, to serve God without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. When I read that, I just thought, how could Zechariah not think of the prophet Zechariah with whom he shares a name? Because when the prophet Zechariah had a vision of a high priest standing before a Holy God. He was standing before a Holy God in filthy rags, but Zechariah sings of one day, us being able to stand before a Holy God, without fear in holiness and righteousness all of our days. How did Zechariah not think of the prophet Zechariah in that vision he had. And if you don’t know the story, it’s one of my favorite stories in all of Scripture. In fact, it’s one of the stories that really, I think, led to my salvation. One of the stories that really made me understand what God had done, what it means that it’s all about grace. I’ve done a talk that’s played here before called The Addict, The Accuser and The Advocate. And it’s all based on this story, but let me just kind of go through it with you real quick, because I think Zechariah had this in mind as he sang this song, it’s a story of Zechariah, the prophet coming to God’s people and saying, Hey, I just had a vision. And in this vision, I saw the holy courtroom of God. And in the middle of this courtroom, the high priest, Joshua was standing before the holy judge and Zechariah says, and Joshua was standing there in filthy rags. Now this would have been a terrifying vision for the people of Israel, because the high priest was their representative to God. However, the high priest appeared before God, that’s how they appeared before God. And the high priest had all these rules about going before the Lord, all these ritual bathing they had to go through and these certain clothing they had to wear and a turbine on their head. And here’s Joshua standing before God. And he hasn’t done any of the things he’s supposed to do, in fact, he’s standing before God filthy. And then Zechariah says in this vision, I also see Satan standing at his right side, ready to accuse him, which is interesting, right? We think of Satan as the one who tempts us to do wrong. We think of him as kind of the great manipulator, but here in this vision, you’ve got Satan as the prosecuting attorney. He’s the one who is saying the God, Hey, look, these are all the things this person has done wrong. What are you going to do about it? He’s the prosecutor. But then Zechariah says, also in this holy courtroom, you’ve got Joshua filthy rags, you’ve got Satan standing there as the prosecuting attorney and then you’ve got the angel of the Lord. Now the angel of the Lord is an interesting character in the Old Testament, because he vanishes in the New Testament. But when he shows up in the Old Testament, he speaks as if he is God, he doesn’t speak, like he’s a messenger, like he’s like the arch angel Michael, or he’s not like Gabriel who comes to Zechariah in the vision, like, he speaks as if he’s God, so most theologians and scholars believe when the angel of the Lord appears in the Old Testament, you’re really seeing a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. You’re seeing the second person of the Trinity. And Jesus is the only one who does anything in this vision. He does three things. He chooses Joshua, he cleans him and he closed him. The very first thing he does, is he silenced Satan. He says, listen, I’ve already chosen Joshua, I’ve chosen to love him, nothing you can say will change that. Then he cleans him up and he looks at him and he says, Hey, Joshua, see I’ve taken away your sin, which is amazing. Like, to hear that your sin is taken away, that you are clean. I mean, how amazing is that? But then he does one more thing, he says, and I will put rich garments on you. He clothes him. Now why that’s important, is because if Joshua was clean, he’s free to leave the presence of God, the holy courtroom, absolved of sin. But that doesn’t mean that he’s going to stay clean, as soon as he walks out that door, he’s going to get dirty again. So when Jesus takes that next step of clothing him in fine garments, what he’s saying to Joshua is you’re free to leave God’s presence without guilt and shame, but you’re also going to be free to stay in his presence without guilt and shame. So when Zechariah’s saying to enable us to serve him without fear and holiness and righteousness, before him, all our days, I bet he was thinking of that. holy courtroom. I bet he was thinking of being covered in a garment that cannot be soiled, in a righteousness that cannot be lost. Zechariah sang of the tender mercy of God. But you and I, we’ve seen it, the tender mercy of God became incarnate. That cradle that we sing about at Christmas was always leading to a cross. And because of that cross, you and I can know without a shadow of a doubt, we’re forgiven. We are clothed in a righteousness that cannot be lost, because it’s all about grace.
Thank you Zach. That was Pastor Zach Van Dyke wrapping up this week of his series called Long Expected Hope. If you missed any of those episodes, do stop by keylife.org to check them out. As Zach mentioned, Steve will return tomorrow with our friend Pete Alwinson for Friday Q&A. Make sure you join us for that, Hey, last day of the year, let’s enjoy it with a few ironic, fun facts. In 1836, the U.S. Patent Office that housed the patent for the fire hydrant, burned down. The only university of Kansas basketball coach with a losing record, Mr. James Naismith, the man who invented basketball. Here’s a final ironic thought. What if the reason you and I are so bad is that we’re trying so hard to be good. Listen, if you’ve ever struck out in, do more, try harder religion. You’re not alone. Actually. Steve wrote about this in a booklet called Three Free Sins, and you can get your own copy for free. Just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also email your request to Steve@keylife.org. By mail, write us at
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