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Forerunner Messengers and Intercessory Missionaries

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John the Baptist- The Forerunner Messenger

I. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Lk 1:16-17).
A. As we back up to the Angel’s announcement to Zechariah of John the Baptist’s birth, the first thing that stands out to me is the Angel’s framework of Jesus’ deity. “John the baptist will go before the Lord.” It is without question Jesus whom John is going before (John 3:28).
B. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 6 And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” (Mal 4:5–6)
This is set in context not actually to Christ’s First Coming, but to His Second: “For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” Says the Lord of hosts, “That will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves. 3 You shall trample the wicked, For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet On the day that I do this,” Says the Lord of hosts. (Mal 4:1–3). --- Mal 3:1 is another example of this.
As we’re in Luke 2, the next chapter is going to, again, take an OT prophecy that finds its full realization at the end of the age and apply it as partially fulfilled in John the Baptist.
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. 2 “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned … 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low … 5 The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” 6 The voice said, “Cry out!”And he said, “What shall I cry?”“All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7 ... Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” (Is 40:1–8).
The point here is that who John the Baptist was serves as a signpost to a generation of forerunner messengers. These will have insight to the day that’s coming a few moments before the majority see it, and they will begin to prepare the people of God for Christ’s return.

Simeon: the aging prophet

I. Simeon reminds me of prophets in the body of Christ that operate at an extraordinary capacity. Some of these men and women sometimes tend to be cryptic though.
A. V. 25 the “Consolation (or comfort), of Israel” here is referring to Jesus’ birth since He is personally responsible for Israel’s final restoration.
B. V. 26 God told him that he wouldn’t die until he saw the Messiah personally - although as an infant.
C. V. 27 God told him to go into the temple at what happened to be the same time that Joseph and Mary had come to dedicate Jesus in the temple.
D. V. 28-32 Simeon’s acknowledgement before God of his own life’s final purpose being culminated. This is in seeing Jesus (God’s Salvation for the world and for Israel.) see also Luke 2:21 with Matt 1:21
E. V. 33-35 Simeon’s attention turns toward Joseph and Mary to bless them in their stewardship over Jesus (God’s own Salvation wrapped up in a Child). Simeon speaks somewhat cryptically here to Mary. However it is clear, as “progressive revelation” unfolds, that the “fall of many in Israel would refer to Israel’s decisive, majority rejection of Christ in the 33 years to follow, and the “rising of many in Israel” would refer to believing Jews throughout the rest of this age along with the Israel’s national salvation at the end. (See Romans 11 for example).
F. As Simeon did not die before seeing Messiah’s arrival; so there will be a generation of older saints, at the end, who will not die until they see Messiah’s arrival a second time. An example of this from a common passage is that the prophecy of Joel 2/ Acts 2 suggests that among those who are “alive and remain until the coming of the Lord” (1 Thess 4:15) will be both young and old, both male and female, across all people groups. These will have, like Simeon, a prophetic ministry with dreams and visions.

Anna- The Intercessory Missionary

I. 36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; (Lk 2:36).
A. Anna was married for seven years before being widowed. Normally this would place her in her early to mid twenties when she was widowed.
II. 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. (Lk 2:37).
A. Anna’s primary life’s occupation for nearly 60 years (possibly, but at least it is so at this point in her life), was in the place of night and day prayer. Being a widow, someone had to have supported her in some way to be able to do that. This even became the expectation for widows that the early church adopted in terms of meeting their needs: “5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day.”(1 Ti 5:5).
1. The greek word here for “served” (Gk: latreuousa) is most often rendered “worship” in the NT. The English Standard Version renders it that way in this verse, and (Acts 7:42, Rom 1:25, Heb 12:28, Phil 3:3). are among many examples of this. Serve however is sometimes a very appropriate rendering, especially when it is a worship of God with one’s life (see Romans 1:9, Luke 1:74). Sometimes, as in Luke 4:8, the more familiar (Gk: proskyneo- lit. “to kiss in front of.” or to “bow down before”) appears in the same verse with (Gk: latreuseis- lit. to render religious or ceremonial service.) with the first referring to the moment or act of worship and the second referring to the offering of one’s entire life to God as worship.
There are other notable verses where this same word “serve” is mentioned together with day and night prayer. (2 Tim 1:3, Rev 7:15).
Some would ask, “where else in the New Testament do you see intercessory missionaries?” I think the question really is, where in the New Testament do you see leaders who don’t commit a great share of their labor in ministry to the place of prayer.” (Acts 6:4).
furthermore, prayer accounted for at least one-quarter of the rhythms of early church life. (Acts 2:42). Also times of prayer would have covered both morning and evening in carrying on Jewish custom (Acts 3:1), and prayer would persist often and for long periods in accordance with great need for breakthrough (Acts 12:5).
Luke tells us that after Christ’s Ascension, His disciples carried on a habit very much similar to Anna’s: 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen. (Lk 24:52–53).
Old Testament example of intercessory missionaries: King David employed full time over 8,000 people in this work in the tabernacle. 4,000 were singers and musicians and 4,000 were gatekeepers. (1 Chron 9:33, 1 Chron 23:3-5). Could you imagine the conversation with David’s cabinet? “I want to open 8,000 new government-funded positions.”
Every righteous king after David maintained his order of worship and experienced a time of mercy, revival, and blessing in the land.
I believe that God is going to raise up many in the body of Christ with an “Anna Calling” before the Lord’s return. If upon no other basis, then just the fact that even as Anna served as a flame of day and night prayer before the Christ’s first coming, the global church will do the same before His Second! (Luke 18:7-8)
Though the whole body of Christ will do this within individual and unique communities, some will do it as a sort of primary occupation to give stability to it!
The vast majority won’t do this as a primary occupation, but many will. And in either direction, the highest calling anyone can walk out is to do the will of God in their own life (narrowly the great commandment.)
Many will do it (and I don’t mean its all they do).
Pastor’s who are “traditionally paid,” who commit to doing the work of ministry from the place of prayer.
others who maybe raise support through various means who give themselves to time in prayer and then do the work of evangelism, service, administration, maintenance etc.
III. 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.(Lk 2:38).
Anna didn’t just pray to the neglect of other kingdom business. She is the first “evangelist” mentioned in the NT after Christ’s birth.
Don’t take from your prayer time to reach people, take from your recreation time!
Anna was a “prophetess.” She was recognized for having a supernatural aspect of power upon her ministry.
there is a connection between prayer and the power dynamic of ministry. When a people saturate a work in corporate prayer, the sermon that would have moved ten people will move one hundred.
It’s not about knowing the formula for this otherwise we would make it about that. Rather it is about recognizing the connection.
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