JESUS FULFILLING PROPHECY.
Yon that were here last Sunday morning remember I was speaking about Christ in the Old Testament, and how the Scripture was fulfilled in his birth. This morning I want to take up the subject where I left off, and show that everything about Christ was wonderful. All these prophecies in the Old Testament about Christ were wonderful; everything about his life and death were wonderful. We find a great many people now who tell us that they don't see anything wonderful in Christ; that he was like ordinary men, like all other men; and they see no reason why they should believe in him as being more than human. I want to call your attention to what Gabriel said about him.
Gabriel's name appears three times in Scripture; and every time that he comes to earth, he comes to bring some tidings about the Lord Jesus Christ. He first came to Babylon, when Daniel was praying, to tell him that he was not only greatly beloved, but to give him the secret that was in heaven: that the Messiah should come, and that he should be cut off for the transgressions of God's people. Five hundred years have rolled away, and the last prophet's voice has been heard in the land and the Word has been sealed; his prophecy has been closed, and not a sound of a prophet has been heard in that land that had been so exalted. The last prophecy was closed up about four hundred years before Christ came; and an old priest by the name of Zacharias was burning incense in the Temple, in his regular course. We are told that he and his wife Elizibeth were good people; they were righteous, but they had a crook in their path like a great many now. They had no children, and it was considered in those days a great dishonor not to have children; and we are told that they had been praying that they might have a child; but I suppose they had grown faint, and had given up all hope of having their prayers answered; perhaps they had forgotten how God answered the prayers of Abraham and Sarah and gave them a child in their old age, and how Hannah also had a child in her old age, and also how Samson's father and mother had been honored by a child. And now we find that this old priest was not in the holiest of the holies, but in the plaoe where they burned incense, just outside of the curtain that was rent when Christ died. There was an altar, and on it was the incense, where he went in twice a day to burn the incense to God; and while he was thus engaged, the people were in the outer court; and it was the custom for them to wait
until the priest came out, and I suppose he blessed them, the same 'as people wait now for the benediction,—although they don't si way» wait here, but hurry to get home some nights; but in those dayi they waited for the benediction. And the old priest didn't come out one day, he tarried longer than usual; for while he was thus engaged at the altar who should meet him but this same man Gabriel, who met Daniel away off in Babylon five hundred years before, and Zachariah was filled with fear when he saw him; and he told him to fear not, he brought him some good news; his prayers were answered. Let me read what Grabriel said to the old priest:
"And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him he was troubled and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, fear not, Zacharias; for thy prayer is heard: and to wife, Elizabeth, shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God, And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers toward the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." He was not onlv to have a child, but his child was to become great in the sight of God; and he was not only to become great, but to become a good child, and to be filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb, and he should turn many to righteousness.
How pleased that old priest was; but Zacharias was like a great many now, full of unbelief. Instead of rememberiug how God had answered the prayers of Abraham, he says, "How can this be? how can I have a child?" "And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and ray wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering, said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God." I suppose Gabriel never had been doubted before. He might have said, "Where has an ang-el ever told a lie?" An angel sent by God into this world never told a lie; and all the promises they brought to this world have been literally fulfilled. He was amazed, perhaps for the first time in, his life. He had come from a world where unbelief is a stanger, where doubts are unknown, where everyone believes what God has said; and now he thinks that this old priest ought to have known •what God said was true. But Zacharias wanted a token. Somebody has said that is the trouble now in the churches; a great many people want a token, outside the Word of God. Gabriel said, "ifou shall have a token, you shall be dumb for the next nine mouths; you shall not speak until the child is born." He got all the token he wanted. The reason we have so many dumb Christians is, they want a token, outside of the Bible, and they are not sure what God says is true. When he came out, the people noticed a change in the old priest; and there was no small stir in Jerusalem, when it was written out by Zacharias what had taken place. When the time came for him to retire from office, he took his wife and went off into the hilly country of Judea; and he remained until the child was born.
But six months from that time Gabriel made his third visit. Gabriel came down again, and he brought better news than ever. He came to that country girl off in Nazareth, and tells her that she is to be the mother of that child that Israel had been looking for, for 4,000 years. Wonder of wonders! No wonder that she was startled; all the mothers in Israel had been praying that they might be the mother of that child. Here is a young country girl, a young virgin, that was to be the mother of that child. Let us read what Gabriel says to her: "And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee named Nazareth; to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her and said, Hail thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God. And behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and' of his kingdom there shall be no end."
How that has been fulfilled. Eighteen hundred years have rolled away; he has srota kingdom in this world; it is in the hearts of many. There are millions this morning that would go to the stake to lay down their lives for this kingdom, for Christ; there are many loyal sons to-day in the world; loyal to the King of Heaven.
"Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeingl know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible." Bear in mind what Gabriel said to Mary about this child. He was not only to be great, but his name should be great, too; He shall be called Jesus. He has 256 names, which you can find in the Bible; but he still bears that name; we like it better than any other. It was the name which came from heaven; it was the
sweetest name any mortal had; it was the name which fired up the whole Jewish nation, like Joshua's. They ought to have hailed it with joy and gladness; they had got another Joshua, another deliverer, one who was come to set the captives free, as we have been trying to tell you this past week. Mary started at once, left her home in Nazareth and went off into the hill country where Elizabeth was; and the moment she met that aged cousin of hers, that child leaped in the womb. Marvelous and wonderful thing! And yet men Ray they don't see anything wonderful about it. Everything about Christ is wonderful. And now we find that Elizabeth breaks out into praise, and so does Mary.
I wish I had time to read what they said, but they spent t hr--e months together, and just before John is born Mary returns to her own country; and it seems to me quite singular that this last prophet that was to be given to the old nation—the old dispensation was just fading away, just dying out, and they were right on the eve of a new dispensation—that John should be born of an old woman, but Christ, who was to usher in the new, was to be born of a young virgin. And in the fullness of time, when the nine months had expired, John was born; and his relatives wanted to call him after his father, but Elizabeth insisted on calling him John. Finally they asked the old priest, and he wrote, "His name shall be called John. That name came from heaven. Gabriel brought the name John, and they could not have changed it. In the Goth verse of the 1st chapter of Luke it says: "And fear came on all that dwelt round about there; and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout the hill-country of Judea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be? And the hand of the Lord was with him."
John means the grace of God! This was the grace of God, giving us this child; and about three months from that time there wa» another stir at Bethlehem—Mary gave birth to the child Jesus. The shepherds made haste to find the child, and when they found it they made haste to proclaim him to the world.
"And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb." In another place it says: "His name shall be called Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." Let me ask you if it is true; will He save His people from their sins? Is he able now, in the nineteenth century, to save a man from his sins? Can a man save another man from sin? Would you say that there is another man in the world that can save this world from sin? Suppose we began to preach up some other man, eleven weeks ago; do you think there would have been so many people here this morning? What other name can we preach? Now just think a moment. Suppose we preach anything but Jesus Christ; would this crowd have been here this morning? Could they have been held together for eleven weeks? This very fact, it seems to me, ought to settle this question who Christ is. You may preach other names; but that will not save men from sin. You may preach that people ought to be moral and virtuous and ought to do this and do that; but if you don't tell them where they can get the power from to do it, they will go right on in their sins. But the moment you begin to preach Christ, and tell the world that He has power on earth to forgive sins, and "His name shall be called Jesus for He shall save his people from their sins," why then the people begin to gather to him. And where is there a name to be compared with that of Jesus? See how his kingdom is being extended, and how the heralds of the cross are going over deserts and mountains, and over this dark earth, to proclaim his name to a perishing world.
But then another scene takes place, we find them in the temple. "And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was upon him." I want to call your attention to one thought, that whenever the Holy Ghost is upon a man he will always honor Christ and speak well of him. "And it was revealed unto him, by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the customs of the law, then took he him up in his arras, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all thy people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel." That was prophetic. The light hadn't gone out then to the Gentiles; they were considered by the Jews outcasts; they were not allowed to go into their temple, only into the outer court. "And Joseph and his mother marveled at these things, which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against. Yea, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also; that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." (Mr. Moody then read from the 35th to the 39th verses.}
Jerusalem is again startled; this time by the wise men coming from the East to see him that was born King of the Jews. They go to Nazareth, guided by the star, and worship that little babe as God. He was God in flesh, the son of God come down from heaven to redeem the world. Herod ordered all those little children to be put to death. They were the first martyrs; "for of such is the kingdom of Heaven." Herod the Great was the first enemy Christ had, the first to unsheath the sword against Christ; and history tells us that he only lived thirty days after unsheathing that sword. The stone fell upon him and crushed him to powder;, and instead of his falling before the stone and yielding to Christ, he drew his sword against him and was going to find him; but God took care of his child and He was safe in Egypt when Herod's order was executed. Herod was called Herod the Great, but how small he looked; bis name has gone down to posterity rotten.
Oh, may God help us this morning to hail the coming Christ. He is going to come back, by and by, and reign upon earth. May God help each one of us to receive him as our Redeemer.