Breaking the Silence

This was a message I preached the Sunday before Christmas, 2014 at the Bayside of Lincoln Campus. We had the Glen Edwards Middle School Band under the direction of Albert Medina with us in both of our services and  it was an amazing morning with 22 people in both our 9:30AM & 11:15AM services making a first time decision for Christ. I write a manuscript out though I do not read it word for word because I am committed to the principle that order allows for spontaneity.  Luke 2:1-20, NIV was the passage:

Manuscript

Introduction:

 

There is a game my parents used to play when we were on road long road trips in the car. The rules of the game went something like this. “The first one to talk loses.” We called it the silence game. Have you ever played the game? I would bet that just about every parent has made up a game similar to this. When traveling in a vehicle and arguing continues, or complaining erupts, or the eternal question, “how much further” is asked for the 100th time, we want silence. So we play the silence game. Sometimes, silence is golden.

Sometimes, though, silence is not golden. If you have ever felt the awkward pause in the conversation; if you have ever had an angry spouse or parent give you the silent treatment then you know what I’m talking about. (Whisper) Sometimes silence can be deafening.

Introducing Message Thesis:
As we look at Christmas, we begin a new series of Sermons entitled, “When God Breaks the Silence.” The most deafening silence I can imagine is when God is silent.

Context:
Is God ever silent? Today, before we look at our text, look at the table of contents in your bible. What Old Testament book comes after Malachi? (Pause)

There is no O.T book after Malachi. The O.T. ends there and the N.T. starts with Matthew. I know that’s not an earth shattering revelation. But folks, don’t miss this. In the space between Malachi and Matthew, is a period of 400 years. And in this period, God is silent. If you write in your bible, I want to encourage you to write 400 years of silence between Malachi and Luke. Imagine it! That’s 20 generations of families who had never heard directly from God. Four entire centuries pass. God’s voice had vanished.

Now if the O.T. is correct (and I believe that it is), the Jews were used to hearing from God. Whether it was through prophets, or judges, or even kings, God spoke to them. He would provide them encouragement, direction, correction, and promises.

But when the Jews are in the midst of one of the most troubling parts of their history, swallowed up by foreign powers and under the thumb of other nations, God is silent. They do not hear a word from Him. And they must have wondered if God has forgotten them. They wonder what they have to do to get God’s attention again. They wonder if they will ever be their own people again; wonder if God will remember the promises He made.

 

Let’s consider the following events during the 400 years of silence that set up this moment: Now if you have read the prophecies of Daniel, you will recall that Daniel was able, by inspiration, to give a very accurate and detailed account of the highlights of these years of conflict between the king of the North (Syria) and the king of the South (Egypt). The eleventh chapter of Daniel gives us a most amazingly accurate account of that which has long since been fulfilled. If you want to see just how accurate the prophecy is, I suggest you compare that chapter of Daniel with the historical record of what actually occurred during that time.[1]

 

The Rise of Alexander The Great and Greek Influence

 

Alexander the Great was born of royal lineage around the year 356 B.C.[2] At the age of 14 he studied under the philosopher Aristotle who had a profound influence upon him; instructing him not only in philosophy but also in politics. After the assassination of his father in 336 B.C. Alexander was made the new Macedonian king.[3] Between the years 334 B.C. and 331 He led his army eastward into victory over the Persian Empire conquering them in three major battles.[4]In 327 B.C. Alexander reached India and eventually died in Babylon in 323 B.C…[5] Alexander promoted Greek culture everywhere he conquered. When his armies took Palestine from the Persians in 332 B.C., they required the Jews to adopt Greek language and customs.[6]One of the most notable effects that Hellenism was to have upon the Jews was the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into the Greek language (the Septuagint LXX).[7]By the time of Christ it had become the most common translation of the Old Testament.[8] Drane observes that many Greeks and Romans became attracted to Judaism because the Old Testament Scriptures were now in their own language.[9]

After Alexander’s death his field marshals struggled for dominion of the lands they had conquered. These leaders and their successors (the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria) warred among themselves until the Roman conquest began in 197 B.C.[10]After the death of Antiochus of the Seleucid Empire in 187 B.C, he was succeeded by his son Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) in 175 B.C. In pursuing his desire to establish Hellenism, Antiochus prohibited the Jews from practising their worship and laws, and ordered them to conform to the worship of Zeus. The climax of his campaign was to establish a pagan alter in the place of the alter in the Jerusalem temple in 167 B.C.[11] 1 Maccabees 1:54, 59 records this event, and Jesus refers to it by using a phrase that comes from the LXX version of Daniel 12:11 “The abomination of desolation” (Mark 13:14), to explain a future desecration of a similar kind.[12] Bruce points out that many Jews inevitably refused to comply with the wishes of Antiochus and as a result suffered martyrdom.[13]Other Jews took up direct resistance, finding leaders in the priest Mattathias of the Hasmonaean family, and his five sons, of whom Judas Maccabaeus was eventually to emerge as leader. Their efforts of resistance were successful and the prohibition of Jewish religion was abandoned.[14]In honour of the rededication of the temple in 164 B.C., the Jews instituted the Festival of Dedication described in 1 Maccabees 4:59. It is this annual festival that Jesus is present at in John 10:22-42. 16 Having gained religious freedom the Maccabeans continued to grow in strength and went on to found a dynasty which controlled Judah until the Roman conquest of 63B.C.E.[15]

 

The Roman Presence

Throughout the Gospels the dominating presence of the Roman Empire is clearly seen. Luke connects the birth of Christ with the decree issued by the Emperor Augustus (Luke 2:1). It is under a Roman magistrate that Christ was sentenced to death (Matt. 27:11-26, and by a form of Roman execution that the sentence was carried out (Matt. 27:31). [16]The Romans demanded two primary requirements of its people: that they pay taxes and accept the government of Rome. Any attempt to rebel was met with extreme severity. Evidence of this is seen in the writings of Josephus, as well as in the Gospels (Luke 13:1).[17]Since the Roman domination of Palestine in 63 B.C. the Jews had to pay taxes, but when Judea was added as a Roman province, they were also expected to pay provincial taxes. When collecting their money the Romans wisely selected the lowest persons from among the natives of the country so that the taxpayers hatred would be turned against these “traitors,” and not against Rome itself.[18] Hatred towards tax collectors manifested itself in many ways, one of which was that their testimony was not permitted in a Jewish court of law (c.f. Mishnah, Nedarim 3:4).[19] The Gospels indicate that the problem of taxation was an issue that occupied the minds of all those under Roman rule (Matt. 17:24-27; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:21-26).[20]

 

The Herods

 

The Herods emerge as significant people in intertestamental history and an awareness of their origins and activity helps to shed light on references to them in the Gospels. The rule of the Herods began with Antipater, governor of Idumea in 67 B.C. 23 In 48 B.C. he was given Roman citizenship and appointed procurator of Judea by Caesar as a reward for assisting Caesar in civil war against Pompey.[21] Antipater appointed his two son’s to govern; Phasael governed Jerusalem and Herod governed over Galilee. By 40 B.C. Herod’s power had increased to such a degree that he was appointed king of Judea by Caesar and the Roman senate.[22]Herod’s unstable and jealous nature sparked by rumor of a rival king is seen in Matthew chapter 2 with the massacre of the infants of Bethlehem.[23]After his death in A.D. 40 his kingdom went to his three sons; Archelaus ruled Judea and Samaria (Matt. 2:22), Antipas ruled Galilee and Peraea, and Philip ruled over his father’s North East regions (Luke 3:1).

The Herodian’s are mentioned throughout the Gospels (e.g. Mark 3:6; 12:13; Matt. 22:16) as a group who support the Herodian dynasty. Although there is not much detailed information on this party it can be said that theologically and politically they appear to have been in agreement with the Sadducees. They also appear as a group who are hostile to Jesus.
Pharisees and Sadducees

The Pharisees and the Sadducees are the two prominent Jewish religious groups who appear in the Gospels but are not mentioned in the Old Testament. The actual origin of these two groups is somewhat obscure, although it is generally believed that the Pharisees arose from the pious party or Hasidim, and the Saducees from the Hellenists during the Maccabean revolt. ‘Pharisee’ means ‘separatist’, and it is possible that the name originated by the groups practice of separating tithes and offerings required for the temple, or because they disassociated themselves from other Jews. The name ‘Sadducee’ is probably derived from Zadok (the priest who lived in the time of David and Solomon).[24]

During the reign of Alexander Jannaeus the Pharisees took a prominent part in public affairs. The first mention of them as a party occurs in Josephus in his account of the reign of John Hyrcanus (135-105 B.C.) where they appear as a very influential party. It is through the Pharisees that the oral law was handed down and expanded, till finally codified in the Mishna and eventually completed in the Talmud. By the first century the Pharisees began to hold great reverence for this oral tradition although it was only originally intended to be supplementary to the Law of Moses, it eventually came to be viewed as equally authoritative and at times, even exceeded it.[25] Mark 7:1-23 is a good example of how highly the Pharisees held this tradition. The issue is that of purity, as the Pharisees and Scribes object that Jesus’ followers do not observe “the tradition of the elders” and eat with “impure hands” (v.5). This particular kind of custom is largely unknown in the Old Testament period and its appearance in the Gospel of Mark (and Matthew 15:1ff) can only be adequately explained by the assumption that some of the Jews had begun practicing the custom somewhere in the intertestamental period. 33 It is possible that the practice was influenced by the coming of Hellenism into Palestine. 34 Although there were not many Pharisees in Jerusalem, they were well respected by the masses and depended on this continued support. This helps to explain much of the hostility that Jesus encounters from them when He attracts large crowds in the Gospels, primarily because of his miracles (eg. John 11:47-48) and His teaching (Mark 4:1ff.). But despite the hostility of the Pharisees toward Jesus the common people were drawn to Him. One of the reasons to explain the popularity of Jesus is that much of his teaching actually agreed with what the Pharisees taught. He was a master teacher of the Law (Matt. 7:28-29), and His teaching on diet (Mark 7:1-9), and Sabbath keeping (Matt. 12:24-32) were in agreement with the Pharisees, and was therefore familiar to the people.

The Sadducees represented the party of the wealthy priests and their friends in the aristocracy. They combined traditional religious outlooks with politics. Their political position and sense of survival led them into an openness to Hellenistic cultural influences. After the coming of Rome, they encouraged collaboration with the ruling power and were concerned in maintaining the status-quo, which secured their position. The principal agency of the Sadducees power was in the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of justice. This administrative and legal body consisted of 71 people, the majority of whom, including the high priest, were Sadducees. 38 Also influential in this organization were the chief priests (Mark 14:53; Luke 22:66). Guigenebert observes that because of the restrictions that the Jews had experienced under the Greeks and the Romans the need for an authoritative internal organization was felt to be necessary and eventually resulted in the establishment of the Sanhedrin. Although the Rabbis of the Talmud believed that its origins could be traced from the time of Moses to their own times in an unbroken line, the earliest reliable evidence for its existence is under Antiochus the Great (223-187 B.C.). Under the Hellenistic kings the influence of the Sanhedrin increased, and continued to do so at the beginning of the Maccabean revolt. Despite a slight decrease in power with Simon being established as high priest in 140 B.C., it increased in power again under the Romans between A.D. 6 – 41. By this time the influence of the Sanhedrin was widely respected and is referred to in the Gospels as an authoritative assembly (Mark 15:1).[26]

 

The Multiplication of Synagogues

 

An understanding of intertestamental history is important when considering the establishment of the Jewish synagogue.[27]The origins of the synagogue can be discerned in the desire that the Jews of the Diaspora had in wanting a more permanent place of worship. 44 Although continuing to gather together and to pray and be instructed in teaching (c.f. Ezek. 8:1; 14:1) the need of a more permanent meeting place arose, eventually finding its full expression in the organized synagogues as portrayed in the New Testament Gospels. Although no rigid architectural design was required, there are some features that all synagogues shared. For example, Josephus describes that synagogues were most commonly orientated toward Jerusalem. The synagogues of the Diaspora were often built near a source of water or had a supply of water kept in cisterns. Most synagogues were fitted with a platform with a reading stand for teaching, and also benches around the walls, and a ‘chief seat’ (described as Moses’ seat in Matthew 23:2) for the one presiding. It was from such a platform that Jesus speaks in Luke 4:16-27. The synagogue served as a place for community affairs, a place of worship, and a center for religious teaching. 50 Philo (20-B.C.-A.D. 45) labels synagogues as ‘schools’, in agreement with what the Gospels say about the teaching that was given in them (Luke 6:6; John 6:59).

 

Messianic Expectations

 

Christian scholars have often declared that during the intertestamental period, and especially just prior to the birth of Jesus, the Jewish world was dominated by discussion and speculation about the Messiah.[28]But in recent times other scholars have felt that such a concept has been somewhat exaggerated. Ferguson observes how Christian scholars, looking back from their own perspective, are responsible for much of the discussion of the messianic hope of the Jews, and have imposed upon the sources available more than what was originally implied.[29]Collins also disagrees that messianic was widespread and feels that the majority of references that scholars cite from this period contain only implicit reference to the Messiah rather than anything explicit. 54 But this is not to say that there was no anticipation of a coming Messiah or deliverer amongst the Jews prior to Christ. Collins does agree that a clearer and more explicit and developed form of messianic interest can be discerned with the rise of the community at Qumran, 55 and again in the first century B.C. E. with the Psalms of Solomon. Freed observes the unequivocal messianic language of the Psalms of Solomon and points out how the word Messiah is used in an eschatological context. The Writer speaks of “the Messiah” (18:5) or “the Lord Messiah” (17:32; 18:7).[30]Concerning this latter phrase, Bruce observes that the same words are used of Christ in the angelic proclamation in Luke 2:11.[31]The Qumran community, like the writer of the Psalms of Solomon, also lived under a strong eschatological expectation. They looked forward to the arrival of a prophet and the Messiah’s (anointed one’s), and of Aaron (the eschatological priest) according to 1QS ix.9-11 and 4QTest.[32]Wise and Tabor point out that among the most interesting of the recently released Dead Sea Scrolls is the fragment 4Q521 written between 200 B.C.E and 70 C.E. This text speaks of a single Messiah, very much like the Christian Messiah, who will rule heaven and earth.[33]

 
Common Ground:
Have you been there? Maybe you are in that space between Malachi and Luke in your own life. Have you ever wished to hear God speak; have you ever wondered if God hears you; have you ever asked, “God give me direction”; “God give me some assurance”; “God give me a sign.” Has it ever felt to you like God’s silence indicates his promises are forgotten?

 

If you are waiting to hear God speak, look at the ordinary. If you haven’t heard God, wait a little longer. Often times, he will speak to you when you least expect it. If you are waiting for God to give you direction, how far are you willing to go to let him demonstrate his power? Do you really believe that nothing is impossible for God?

I read this story and I am left with a question. What if after 400 years of silence The Angel declares, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

 

 

 

 

THREE POWERFUL THINGS GOD STATES HE WILL DO IN BREAKING THE SILENCE

 

  1. “GOOD NEWS” (v. 10) HE IS A GOD WHO IS FOR US!

 

Why is this Good News?

 

  1. It breaks Fear!

 

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7, NLT

 

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. I John 4:18, NLT

 

  1. BECAUSE IT BROUGHT GREAT JOY. (v 10) “tidings of great joy”

 

 

  1. BECAUSE IT IS FOR ALL PEOPLE. ( v 10) “shall be to all people”

 

 .

 

  1. “PEACE” (v.12) HE WILL RECOVER AND MAKE WHOLE ALL THE BROKEN PLACES IN OUR LIVES.

Total well-being, prosperity, and security associated with God’s presence among his people. [34]

 

Translates more like Peace among Men in whom He is well pleased.

 

Two Aspects of Peace:

 

  1. He will reconcile us to God.

There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

  1. He will reconcile us with others.

 

 

Three ways to let God’ Peace work in you:

 

  1. LET GOD REMOVE MY GUILT

 

Nothing destroys a soul faster than guilt. “Ps. 38:4&6 “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear… I am bowed down and brought low; all day long I go about mourning.” There are two problems with guilt. We all have plenty reasons to feel guilty. We are all imperfect. We all make mistakes. By nature we carry guilt in our lives. We can’t get away from it. It’s in our mind. Even if we go to a new location we carry a guilty conscious with us.

Prov. 20:27 “The Lord gave us a mind and a conscience. We cannot hide from ourselves.”

How do you get rid of guilt? How do you deal with the guilt in your life? There are a lot of options:

You can deny it, pretend it doesn’t exist. You can bury the past — but it doesn’t work. If it’s still alive it resurrects itself. Just about the time you think it’s buried, the feeling comes back into your mind at the most inappropriate time. Denying guilt does not relieve guilt. You can minimize it. “It was no big deal, not that big of a sin.” Then why do you still remember it? Why can’t you forget it? Minimizing it doesn’t work.

You can compromise it just by lowering your standards. If you feel guilty about something you just say “I don’t believe it’s wrong anymore. Fortune cookie: Commit a sin twice and it won’t seem like a sin anymore.” The tenth murder isn’t nearly so bad as the first one. It’s true. If you keep doing something over and over, your

Conscious will eventually become seared to it, but that doesn’t relieve the guilt.

You can rationalize your guilt — “Everybody does it.” In the first place, everybody doesn’t do it. Even if they did, justifying it by somebody else’s behavior doesn’t make it any easier on you. You can always find somebody who is worse that you are. “Rationalize” means “rational lies”. Whenever I rationalize my guilt I’m trying to convince my heart about something I know is wrong with my head by saying “it’s OK”. But you hear always wins out over your head. You can blame other people. In our mind we have a scales between what I do wrong and what you do wrong to me. We balance it — I feel bad about this so I’ll blame you for that. When you’re blaming other people it doesn’t make it any easier on you. Most of us beat ourselves up. We self -administer punishment. Inside we know that somebody has got to pay for the wrong in my life. Subconsciously we set ourselves up to pay for our sin. Can guilt make you sick? You bet it can. Can guilt cause depression? Absolutely. Can guilt cause you to set yourself up for failure? Without a doubt. How many successful people go along fine and then cave in? Why? There is a little guilty feeling: you don’t deserve to succeed. None of these things work. There is only one solution to your guilt. You’ve got to give it to God. He’s the only one who can remove it.

Here is the answer:

 

“All of us have sinned… yet God declares us `not guilty’ IF we trust in Jesus Christ, who in mercy freely takes away our sins.” Rom 3:23-24 (LB)
 

“He has forgiven ALL your sins. He has utterly wiped out the evidence of broken commandments which always hung over our heads, and completely annulled it by nailing it to the cross!” Col 2:13-14

 

  1. LET GOD RELIEVE MY GRIEF

 

Not all of the things in life that damage us are things I bring upon myself. Sometimes I have grief because of things that are done to me. Sometimes I have grief over seeing other people hurt. The fact is you will be hurt in

life, you will experience loneliness in life. This is not heaven, this is earth. It’s imperfect down here. Some day you’re going to be lonely. Some days your heart will be broken. Some days you’re going to feel in despair. Some

days you’re going to feel all alone. Some days you’ll experience sorrow, loss, grief. The loss that we feel is real!

 

  1. LET GOD REPLACE MY GRUDGES

Grudges come from what other people do to me. I feel guilty for what I’ve done to others, but I feel grudges about what others have done to me. You’re going to be hurt in life; that’s a fact of life. Life isn’t fair. People will hurt you. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. Either way, it still hurts. How you handle the resentments of life determine whether you are a bitter person or a better person. The difference between bitter and better is the letter “I”. I make the choice. I can choose whether the circumstance will devastate me or direct me on to a new path. Whether it will make me bitter or better. What do I do with all the hurts that have piled up, all the emotional garbage that I still resent, and when those people come to mind it just tightens my stomach up? What do I do?

Job 5:2 “To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do.”

Why? Resentment never hurts the other person. It only hurts you. The other person might be totally oblivious that you’re even

thinking about them. They’ve gone on with their life. Some of you are continuing to allow people from your past to hurt you now! And that’s stupid! Your past is past. They cannot hurt you anymore unless you keep rehearsing

it in your mind. Every time you rehearse that resentment they’ll hurt you again. They may even be dead and they’re still hurting you from the grave. That is dumb! You don’t hurt them by resenting. Holding onto a hurt, only hurts you. Resentment is like drinking rat poison and you are hoping the rat dies! One of the greatest things that Martin Luther King said, “Bitterness is blindness.” If I allow you and your hurt to make me bitter it blinds me. It blinds me to the truth, to all that’s good in the world and all I can see is the bad, evil, prejudice, sin. It blinds me to what God wants to do in my life. God wants to even take the negative, harmful, hurtful and turn it around and use it for good and make me a better person. I can’t see that when I’m

bitter. You will never be healed from your hurt until you accept God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ and then you offer that same forgiveness to other people. What is it you still feel guilty about? When I start talking about guilt it pops into your mind and still haunts you and bugs you? All the minimizing and rationalizing and compromising and blaming and beating up yourself doesn’t work. Jesus Christ can remove that guilt and nobody else can. He specializes in new beginnings. It’s called being born again. He can wipe the slate clean. There is no reason in the world for you to go on with a guilty conscious when He offers forgiveness. Just accept it. Stop punishing yourself for the past. You don’t need a self-help book. You need a Shepherd. You need a Savior. Only a Savior can forgive that guilt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. “GOOD WILL” (v.12) HE GIVES US SECURITY!

 

The Greek manuscripts used to translate the KJV contain eudokia (nominative), whereas the older manuscripts used to translate the modern versions contain eudokias (genitive) – literally translated, “of good will” or “characterized by [God’s] good pleasure.”  In other words, the peace that the angels sang that belonged to the earth as a result of the birth of Christ is not a generic, worldwide peace for all humankind, but a peace limited to those who obtain favor with God by believing in his Son Jesus (see Romans 5:1).  What a difference a single letter can make of the text!

  good pleasure

(eu, well, dokeo, to seem), implies a gracious purpose, a good object being in view,

with the idea of a resolve, shewing the willingness with which the resolve is made.” Used to describe bringing one close or to sit on the lap of someone great.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfwvlgBR6xY

 

 

Transition to final application:

God speaks after 400 years of silence. And when God speaks he unfurls the plan he has put into place since Genesis 3 when sin enters the world. It’s the Christmas story. It’s Christ in Christmas. It’s an announcement of the King. And Mary’s heart is open to message. Mary is a willing vessel. Listen to the reply. It’s a reply we should copy.

He breaks the silence and is it possible for some of us that it is time to come Home!

[1] H. A. Ironside’s little book, The 400 Silent Years, gathers that up in some detail.

 

[2] J.I. Packer, M.C. Tenney, W. White, The World of the New Testament (Alton: Window Books, 1982), 3.

[3] Ibid., 47-49

[4] J.P. McKay, B.D. Hill, J. Buckler, A History of World Societies (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988), 142. The three battles against the Persians that map the course of Alexander’s march eastward are as follows: Granicus (334 B.C.), Issus (333 B.C.), and Gaugamela (331 B.C).

[5]  Ibid.

[6] Packer, Tenney, and White, 91. Apparently many of the Jews accepted the rulership of their Hellenistic overlords reasonably well, as Jewish tradition portrays Alexander in a favorable light. Both Josephus and the Talmud mention that many of the Jews fought in his army.

[7] C. F. Pfeiffer, Between the Testaments (London: Pickering & Inglis Ltd., 1965), 85

[8]Packer, Tenney and White, 55.

[9]. Drane, Introducing the New Testament (England: Lion Publishing, 1986), 24. It was partly because of the Septuagint that Jewish teachers were quick to take advantage of making proselytes, and often travelled great distances to do so. The Gospels record Jesus’ observations of their activity (Matt. 23:15).

[10] Packer, Tenney and White, 53-54.

[11] F.F. Bruce, New Testament History (London: Oliphants, 1971), 4.

[12]  M.D. Hooker, The Gospel According to Saint Mark (London: A&C Black, 1991), 314.

[13] Bruce, 4.

[14] Ibid.

[15] J. M. Freeman, Manners and Customs of the Bible (New Jersey: Logos International, 1972), 429. Freeman observes how in later times this festival was called “the Feast of Lights” on account of the custom of illuminating houses while celebrating it. This custom originates from the story of when the Jews drove the heathens out of the temple during which they found a solitary bottle of sacred oil, untouched by Gentile hands. This oil was consequently used for lighting the sacred lamps and it was claimed that by a miracle, the oil kept burning for eight days and therefore became the duration of this festival.

[16] C.J. Roetzel, The World That Shaped the New Testament (London: SCM Press, 1985), 14.

[17] Packer, Tenney, and White, 82.

[18] Ibid., 79-81. 21 Bruce, 174.

[19] Packer, Tenney, and White 82.

[20]Packer, Tenney, and White 82.

[21]  J.D. Douglas, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, part 2 (Leicester: IVP, 1980), 542.

[22]  Ibid., 542-544.

[23] Ibid., 544

[24] G.H. Box, Judaism in the Greek Period (London: Oxford University Press, 1945), 29.

[25] J. Bright, A History of Israel (London: SCM Press, 1967), 450

[26] J.B. Green, S. McKnight, I.H. Marshall, 730.

[27] “The word ‘synagogue’ is of Greek origin, meaning a gathering of people, or a congregation. The Hebrew word for such a gathering is keneseth.” Pfeifer, 59.

[28] E.D. Freed, The New Testament, A Critical Introduction, 2nd. ed. (London: SCM Press, 1994), 28.

[29] J. J. Collins, Judaism and Their Messiahs at the Turn of the Christian Era (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 98-101, 103-104, 106. Collins does recognise that the Old Testament concept of Davidic messianism was retained during this period but argues that this in itself did not necessarily bring any extraordinary expectation to the minds of those living in the first century.

[30] Freed, 19.

[31] Bruce further observes that this identification becomes more of a mere coincidence when one considers that Luke’s nativity narrative is similar to the Psalms of Solomon in that those who are depicted, Zechariah and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, Simeon and Anna, who are looking for the ‘consolation of Israel’, are in many ways similar to the community who produced the Psalms of Solomon

[32] Ferguson, 191.

[33] M.O. Wise and J.D. Tabor, “The Messiah at Qumran” Biblical Archaeology review 1992, vol. 18, no. 6, 60-65.

[34] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1634.

About PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”
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