- Sermon Notes
The Hand of God
1. Divine Providence. The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were men who saw God working in the affairs of mankind to establish our great nation.
2. Many of them spoke and wrote of the hand of God intervening on behalf of the Colonies during their struggle for independence.
3. George Washington testified to the hand of God on his life, protecting him through many fierce battles.
4. Washington wrote, “By the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt…”
5. After the Continental Congress selected him to lead the Continental Army, Washington sent a letter filled with words of faith and comfort to his wife, Martha. He wrote, “I shall rely, therefore, confidently on that Providence which has heretofore preserved and been bountiful to me, not doubting but that I shall return safe to you.”
6. During our study this evening, we will discover what the Bible has to say about the hand of God; how God is involved in the affairs of His creation and by application, even our lives.
7. From this, we will learn faith-strengthening principles so that we may know how we should respond to and even welcome the hand of God on our lives.
1. After the prophet Malachi, God did not speak to Israel for 400 years. God broke the silence by sending the angel Gabriel to an elderly priest named Zacharias, to tell him that his barren wife, Elizabeth, would give birth to a son; who would be the forerunner to Messiah.
2. Six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent Gabriel again; this time to Elizabeth’s relative, a teenage virgin who lived in a small town called Nazareth. Her name was Mary.
3. What Gabriel told Mary marked the beginning of a new day in human history; a day that would forever change all days thereafter.
4. Gabriel declared that the Holy Spirit would overshadow Mary, and she would have God’s Son, who would be the Savior of the world.
5. When Mary heard Gabriel’s declaration, she made a declaration of her own, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” (38)
6. After Gabriel departed, Mary, with great excitement, left Nazareth and hurried to the home of her relative, Elizabeth. (39-40)
7. The moment Mary opened the door and greeted Elizabeth, God gave two signs to confirm that Mary was carrying God’s Son, the Savior of the world. (41, 44)
a. First, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy.
b. Second, the Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth and she prophesied about Mary and her Child.
8. Elizabeth cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (42)
9. Overwhelmed by God’s favor, with tears streaming down her face, Elizabeth asked a touching question which reveals that she understood the magnitude of what the Holy Spirit had shown her, “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?” (43)
a. Here, Elizabeth called the Baby in Mary’s womb “my Lord”.
b. She recognized Jesus’ greatness, swore her allegiance, and submitted to His authority.
c. Elizabeth rejoiced because God had graced her with the very presence of her Savior, Jesus; God had come to her.
10. According to verse 56, Mary stayed with Elizabeth for “about three months, and then returned to her home.”
a. This verse confirms that Mary was still a virgin because she was not living in Joseph’s home.
b. It also means that Mary was likely present for the birth of Elizabeth’s baby.
Transition – The first biblical principle that we discover from this passage about the hand of God is…
I. The Hand of God Means God is on the Move (57-58)
ILLUS – Malina sharing with me a song she sang during chapel at school.
• A. W. Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
• There are many theories about who or what God might be.
• For instance, some think God is this great grandfather figure in heaven who set the world in motion and now sits back to watch it all unfold.
• While it is true that God is transcendent or set apart from His creation, it is also true that God is imminent, meaning He is involved in the affairs of His creation.
• So, God is sovereign over His creation, and He is personally guiding what happens here.
Haggai 2:5, As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!
Transition – God is on the move and the hand of God…
A. It’s a revelation of God’s determination (57)
1. Elizabeth was well past the age of childbearing and had been barren all her adult life.
2. Yet, God spoke through the angel Gabriel to Zacharias and said that Elizabeth would conceive in her old age and give him a son.
3. In verse 57, the miracle of their child’s birth was recorded in just a few words.
a. Elizabeth carried the child to full-term.
b. Elizabeth gave Zacharias a son.
c. Let’s be honest, it was more than just nine months of waiting; this was a life-long dream that was fulfilled by the hand of God.
4. And let’s also be honest, from a medical perspective, this was a “high-risk” pregnancy.
a. But from a faith perspective, there was no risk at all.
b. God was on the move and God was determined to do what He said He would do.
c. In fact, the outcome was never in question and that’s why Luke only used a few words to record the work of God’s hand.
APPL – When God determines to do something, get out of the way because no one can stop Him.
• God will make a way where this is no way.
Isaiah 43:19, See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (NIV)
• No enemy is too great for our God.
1 Samuel 7:13, So the Philistines were subdued and they did not come anymore within the border of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
• Nor is any obstacle too large for our God.
Joshua 4:23-24, For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.
• There is great application for us. We must trust God and give Him room to move. This is the essence of faith. God is always worth the wait.
Psalm 46:10, Cease striving and know that I am God
B. It’s a sign of God’s great favor (58)
1. Elizabeth’s humiliation was turned to joy.
2. Her reproach was removed and the people who once questioned her character and faith called her blessed of God.
3. The hand of God changed her life. His favor rested upon her.
APPL – God delights in acting mercifully towards His people.
Psalm 145:8-9, The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The LORD is good to all,
and His mercies are over all His works.
• God’s mercy flows from God’s heart, it’s who He is.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
• And if we fail, the safest place to fall is into the hands of our merciful God.
ILLUS – When David sinned, he fell into the hands of the Lord because he knew the Lord is a God of mercy.
1 Chronicles 21:13, I am in great distress; please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great.
Hebrews 4:14-16, Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Transition – The second biblical principle that we discover from this passage about the hand of God is…
II. The Hand of God Transforms Lives (59-66)
A. God’s hand makes us free (59-60)
1. Luke’s Gospel is filled with interesting twists.
2. First is the fact that a barren couple had a son in their old age. Next, is what they named their son.
3. In that day, the traditional thing to do was to name a firstborn son after the father or grandfather.
4. That’s exactly what the crowd expected Zacharias and Elizabeth to do when they brought their son to the Temple on the eighth day to have him circumcised. (59)
5. Since Zacharias had been deaf and mute for over nine months, their family and friends turned to Elizabeth to confirm their son would be called Zacharias Jr.
6. To the crowd’s astonishment, Elizabeth refused their assumption and their long-held tradition and literally said, “No! He must be named John.” (60)
7. The name John is significant because it means “Yahweh is gracious”.
APPL – Through John’s name, God was sending a message that we are living in a season of God’s grace.
• Why is it important that we are living in a season of God’s grace?
• Because the Bible makes it clear that where God’s grace is, there is freedom.
• It’s a season where God’s hand transforms lives.
• It’s a season where God’s hand makes us free.
Galatians 5:1, It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject to a yoke of slavery.
APPL – When the hand of God is on your life, there is freedom.
B. God’s hand gives purpose to our lives (61-66)
1. The crowd was not satisfied with Elizabeth’s answer, so they turned to her deaf, mute husband to hear what he had to say. (61-62)
2. The moment Zacharias took the tablet and wrote “His name is John”, his ears were opened, and his tongue was loosed. (63)
3. And the first thing Zacharias did was praise the Lord for all that He had done. (64)
4. This elderly couple, who were parents for the first time, had a sense of purpose for the rest of their lives because God had entrusted to their care the one who would go before Messiah; to prepare the way of the Lord.
APPL – Zacharias and Elizabeth had waited a long time for a child.
• During those nine months of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Zacharias sat in silence, unable to speak or hear; so, he just reflected on the words of Gabriel.
• Zacharias had doubted God and God’s message.
• While waiting and reflecting, Zacharias was transformed.
• He would not doubt God again.
• He had learned to trust God and simply take Him at His word.
• And now that God had blessed them with a son, there was no way that Zacharias and Elizabeth would bend to peer pressure or the traditions of men.
• Their son would be given the name God had chosen for him and be raised to fulfill what God had anointed him to do.
APPL – The hand of God changes hearts so that men and women are free to walk by faith and fulfill the calling that He has placed on their lives. May we be an instrument in God’s hand.
ILLUS – Talking with my daughter about living with purpose and making her life count.
1 Corinthians 15:9-10, For I am the least of the apostles,
and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
5. Fear (reverence) came upon all and all wondered about this child; for “the hand of the Lord was certainly with him.” (65-66)
a. This child was anointed to be a prophet.
b. Even at his birth he was preparing the way for Messiah because the hand of the Lord was with him.
APPL – The hand of the Lord is upon us.
APPL – How should we respond? May we welcome the hand of the Lord.
1 Peter 5:6-7, Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
Luke 1:57-66 NASB
57 Now the time [a]had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had [b]displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her.
59 And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, [c]after his father. 60 But his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called. 63 And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished. 64 And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God. 65 Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, “What then will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him.