This study in Luke chapter 3 was given by pastor Barry Forder on the 30th October 2022 at Calvary Portsmnouth.
In this chapter Dr Luke records the beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry at Bethabara, just north of the Dead Sea in southern Israel, around 18 miles east of Jerusalem.
As John started to preach the news spread and very soon a multitude came out from that towns of Judea to listen to this man. Whatever they expected they were no doubt surprised! John was not your ordinary son of a priest! He had chosen a simple lifestyle but thundered with a powerful message that shook his listeners to the core. Luke records that, not only the common people, but also the notorious tax collectors and unscrupulous soldiers, both renowned for corruption and their harsh treatment of the people, had been broken and convicted by John’s teaching.
John’s message was clear and simple. God is coming to judge the earth! It was time to choose whose side you were on! Israel had a history of ignoring the voices of the prophets God sent to warn of impending judgment, but here, albeit for a brief moment, there was genuine contrition as this Spirit filled man spoke of the coming kingdom.
Luke records that Isaiah had actually prophesied of John’s ministry some 700 years earlier, and that he would be a forerunner to the coming Messiah. Some of the people actually wondered if John himself were the Messiah, but John was quick to explain that he merely baptised the repentant with water; the Messiah would baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire!
John himself evidently expected the Messiah to establish His kingdom there and then. So much so that when Jesus seemed to be delaying His right to claim the title of the Earth and sit on the Throne of David, John sent disciples to ask if Jesus really was the Messiah. John, as did the Jewish leaders, and Jesus’ disciples, all failed to understand that the Messiah had to come first to suffer and pay for the sins of the world, and only then would He later return to establish His throne and rule all nations ‘with a rod of iron’ (Psalm 2) from Jerusalem.
Luke records that Jesus also went down to Bethabara – the place Joshua had led the Children of Israel across the Jordan into the Promised Land (see Joshua ch4) – and there was baptised by John. It wasn’t that Jesus needed to repent, but rather Jesus intentionally identified Himself with sinful humanity in an open declaration and acceptance of submission to His Father’s will. This led to one of two occasions where God the Father audibly declared His love for His Son and that Jesus’ sacrificial act was indeed pleasing to the Father.
Luke then gives us one of two detailed genealogies in the New Testament – the other being in Matthew chapter 1. To most gentiles, these are just boring lists of names, some of which we may recognise if we’ve read the Old Testament, but overall, something we don’t generally give much attention to. However, if you are a Jew, these lists of names, these historical genealogies, are of profound significance!
In A.D. 70 the genealogical records, that would allow any Jew to trace their family ancestry, were lost when the Temple was destroyed in Jerusalem by the Roman 5th legion under the command of Titus. The real problem this posed for the Jews – then as well as now – is that they have no way to verify their coming Messiah, no way to check the authenticity of anyone claiming so be their long-awaited Hope. So much of a problem this will be that the Jews – according to Jesus Himself – will one day accept ‘Antichrist’ as their Messiah, albeit only briefly, but the tragedy that will result will be catastrophic.
Of course, no Torah-loving, God-fearing Jew would ever consider looking in the pages of the Christian New Testament for corroboration or confirmation! But one day the Christians will be gone; supernaturally removed from this earth and taken back to Heaven! The remaining gentiles to be saved will be martyred during the time of Great Tribulation coming upon the earth, and then, according to the Apostle Paul, the blindness that has been over Israel’s eyes for almost two thousand years will be removed (Romans 11:25).
Then, these genealogies that have been preserved by Luke and Matthew will become the most valuable documents on earth, for they will prove that Yeshua Ben David (Jesus the son of David) was and is the rightful heir to David’s throne, and more importantly, their Messiah! They will show He was of the line of Judah, of the family of David, born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, the Son of God!
These genealogies are for tomorrow, they are reserved for a time yet to come, Gentiles might read them now, but the Jews will come to treasure them!
God’s Word speaks to tomorrow as much as it does today. It anticipates and provides comfort for troubles that you have not yet encountered, but it will be there when you do. You might go through one of life’s storms some time from now, and when you do you will pick up God’s Word and words that were written thousands of years ago will speak to you in that very moment. They had been waiting for you all that time!
Can there be a better reason to pick up God’s Word daily than the knowledge that God already has something to say to you tomorrow? It’s been recorded ahead of time by the One who knows the end form the beginning.
May you be blessed and encouraged by this teaching!
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