According to Jim Baker, who sat with George Bush during his last day, after a phone call from W, he heard George say, “I love you.” Those were the last words of our former president. Last words are always significant.
- Leonardo De Vinci: I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.
- Charlie Chaplin: A priest said: May the Lord have mercy on your soul. To which he answered, Why not? It belongs to Him.
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writer of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, turned to his wife and said, “You are wonderful,” then clutched his chest and died.
- Michael Landon's family gathered around his bed, and his son said it was time to move on. Landon said, “You’re right. It’s time. I love you all”
What were God’s last words in the OT? Believe it or not it was the same as Michael Landon – I love you all. That last promise brought the whole story together, the event all of Heaven was crying for.
Mal 4:1-6 For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze," says the LORD of hosts, "so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing," says the LORD of hosts. Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.
Where was the “I love you all?” You’ll hear it in a minute, but first let’s talk about the fulfillment of prophecies: Someone counted 108 direct prophecies related to Jesus. The odds of someone fulfilling those 108 prophecies is impossible.
The probability of fulfilling just eight is 1:100 quadrillion. Winning the lottery is 1:14 million. Mark a silver dollar so you can identify it. Get into a jet and fly up as high as the plane will go, then roll down the window and drop the dollar somewhere over Texas. Take a blind man to the center of the state and tell him to go find that silver dollar. The chance of him finding it is 1:100 quadrillion. In other words, it is impossible.
So, what we’ll talk about today and all we’ve been talking about in this series is among the things considered by human reason to be impossible. Now, if we’re dealing with a story that is filled with impossibilities, what’s our basis for believing it’s all true?
We start with the story of Mary being visited by Gabriel: Luke 1:35-37 The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.
Nothing is impossible is the ultimate statement of a Sovereign God. Even when something is mathematically improbable or scientifically impossible, a sovereign God commands and it happens.
Faith only works when directed to a sovereign God. Our beliefs are stronger when based upon a sovereign God. Our understanding is clearer when we see things in light of a sovereign God. If we don’t start with a sovereign God, most of the Bible won’t work. It’s reduced to nothing more than good fiction with a few moral teachings thrown in.
So, because of the fulfillment of prophecies, this birth and the circumstances surrounding this birth are in the realm of the impossible. That means this event is something only God could pull off.
For example: Matt 1:22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US." Quoting Isaiah.
Now, how are you going to do that? Mary asked the same thing: Luke 1:34 Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
But the virgin birth was essential to the story? Why, because it was prophesied.
- Without the Virgin Birth, we have an illegitimate child or a child of human conception and not the only begotten Son of God.
Did we have to have Mary and Joseph?
- Without Mary and Joseph, we have no connection to the throne of David.
Did He have to be born in Bethlehem?
- Without Bethlehem, we have the birth in Nazareth which fulfills nothing in Scripture.
Did there have to be shepherds coming to see the baby?
- Without shepherds coming, we have no connection to the sacrificial purpose of Jesus coming in the first place.
We’ve invested the last 8 weeks seeing what God did through nations, kings and circumstances to move the story to this point. How he used the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans. Now, what He does will be through His own people to fulfill prophecy. Remember the reason for prophecy: so that when it happens, we can go back and see God said it would happen, and thereby know that what we see is the work of God fulfilling His promises.
The last prophecy about Elijah coming first was pivotal. Elijah was to be the front runner, the herald, the courier of the news that the Messiah was on the way, the advance man.
We know that Elijah had been gone 400 years when Malachi wrote. To connect it with the birth of Jesus was another 400 years. Was God going to bring back a dead man?
Here’s what Gabriel said to John’s father, Zacharias: Luke 1:17 It is he (John) who will go as a forerunner before Him (Jesus) in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
Wait! Did Malachi mishear God’s voice? No, Malachi said: Mal 4:5 Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. Yea, but Gabriel is saying God is sending John.
It’s like Gabriel saying to Mary, His name will be Jesus, but to Joseph, he said, He will be called Immanuel. Which is it? Both. One is His name. The other is who He will be.
We hear things but filter what we hear through our own understanding. Which is what the proverb says we aren’t to do: don’t lean on your own understanding but trust in the Lord for direction. Here’s what I heard you say. But do you understand what I said?
Malachi heard the last thing Lord said, but Gabriel clarified what God meant prophetically.
Jesus did the same thing with the Disciples. They asked Jesus one day: Matt 17:10-13 "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" And He answered and said, "Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John.
So, with the announcement to Zacharias, God turned the key in the ignition. Everything was ready and in place for the plan to be fulfilled. The Forerunner was on the way, and all that followed would be ready as well. Like God cranking up the bus: Get in Zacharias and Elizabeth, we need to get John. Now, let’s go pick up Mary and Joseph…
What’s interesting in John’s birth story, apparently Zacharias had been praying all their marriage for a son. Elizabeth was called barren. Being barren was a disgrace in Israel. So, it was probably a lifetime prayer from Zacharias that God grant them a child.
Luke 1:13 The angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.
But how like God to take our petition and say, “Yes, I’ll provide that, but I’m going to delay that, tweak it a bit and use it for My purposes as well. I’ll be blessing you beyond what you are asking.”
That’s what Paul said God does: Eph 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
Zacharias just wanted an heir, a son. God gave him John the Baptizer, Elijah, the forerunner of the Messiah.
How like God to step into a couple’s life and say, “I’ve got plans to accomplish something through you and for you that goes beyond what you can even dream. Hang on because I’m working in the nothing is impossible realm.”
And even a little humor gets thrown in. When Elizabeth became pregnant, she wasn’t quite as thrilled as Zacharias: Luke 1:24-25 After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, "This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men?" When Gabriel was talking with Zacharias, it was his prayer God was answering. Elizabeth probably quit praying when it became too impossible.
But here’s prophetic fulfillment: the timing of John, the answering Zacharias’ prayers for a baby, the alignment with promise all brought the story to the exact time.
Paul said: Gal 4:4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman… doesn’t mean when Mary was full-term the baby came, but when everything prophetically aligned, all the prophecies, all the people were now in place to bring the story to us.
So, what do you do with all this fulfillment God pulled off? You believe. Zacharias and Elizabeth believed. The shepherds believed. Mary and Joseph believed. In fact, the greatest thing Mary did was believe what she had been told was true. And as Elizabeth said to her: Luke 1:45 “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord." That’s how we become blessed people – we believe what God says.
Even when the chance of all these prophecies being fulfilled is 1:100 quadrillion, we believe because that belief is based on the promises of a sovereign God.
- What we believe must not be limited to what we can accept or understand.
- Belief is not just an affirmation we think is right, but a principle upon which we stand.
- We believe because we trust God to tell us the truth.
- And even when we may doubt or demonstrate other methods of unfaithfulness, He remains faithful.
- Because He is faithful, I can live confidently in the presence of impossible things.
Oh, by the way, where were God’s words: I love you all? Remember John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. It’s the theme throughout the whole story. I’m doing this because I love you all.
God loved and He gave. Now all that remains is for us to believe. But it’s not just an affirmation that we think the story is true. It is receiving what He offers because it is true.
It’s like the story has another chapter to be written – the chapter where you and I come in. What’s supposed to happen in that chapter? We become Children of God. How does that happen? John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
Did you know God is still driving that bus? It’s the bus of fulfillment. And at some point, the bus will pull up to you and God will open that door and invite you to get on the bus. If you do, He will fulfill in your life all that this story is about.
Have you gotten on the bus, yet? If not, believe and then receive the life God offers you.