Reflections of Hope Pt. 1

Act I: The Forerunner
John the Messenger.mp3

Key Text: Luke 1:1-25  

Prophecies predicting the birth and ministry of John the baptizer.

  • Prepare the way –  Isa. 40:3-5 / Luke 3:3-6
  • Forerunner  – Mal. 3:1 / Luke 7:24-27
  • Spirit of Elijah – Mal. 4:5,6 / Matt. 11:13-14

Signs in the heavens…

Gen. 1:14

The first reason God gave for the stars in the Heavens was for signs and then for seasons. While man, in there traditional wisdom have placed the importance of the stars and planets more on marking seasons than communicating signs from God, that was not always the case. A sign is something that communicates a message. The word Zodiac comes from a root word Zodi or Zodai meaning “the path or the way”. So in accordance with what God said that the lights in the Heavens are for signs, Zodiak essentially means to communicate the path or the way (obviously of salvation).

Naturally, Satan has perverted thoughts surrounding the stars and their constellations, understanding that if he did, then God’s people would avoid paying attention to them for fear that such signs were “of the devil” – as though he was their creator. Unfortunately, it was worked! Satan is a thief and a counterfeiter – he always steals what God intended for His glory, distorts it and then “publishes it” as if the whole idea began with him!

Now lest anyone think I am for the traditional Zodiak of our day or of reading your horoscope for guidance for anything – think again! I am NOT speaking in support of those distortions. I am simply pointing out the design GOD HIMSELF said He put into the stars and their constellations.

For many years, prior to the modern invention of the telescope, there were only 12 major constellations, each having 3 sets of stars within them (totaling 48), which further emphasis the main story that they tell.

God created the constellations:

Now to avoid any “Christian issues”, of avoiding the Zodiac and so on, we must remember that God created the stars and their constellations. God even recognizes them as is seen in the book of Job. God asks arrogant Job, “can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades or loose the belt of Orion. Can you bring out the Mazzoroth (probably the collective Zodiac) in it’s season or guide the Great Bear with it’s cubs? Do you know the ordinances (appointments, customs and manners) of the heavens? Can you set their dominion (jurisdiction)* over the earth?” ~ Job 38:31-33.

The original names of the constellations and their stars are said, by both Jewish & Arabian tradition, to have been given by Seth and Enoch, immediate descendants of Adam. They all have Arabic names. However, in every country and language these stars and constellations all mean the same thing (which indicate quite strongly that they were named early in human history before the dispersion at the tower of Babel.)

Now according to the Hebrew calendar the year would start with Virgo (the virgin) and end with Leo (the Lion). This alone tells us that the “path or way” the stars are leading us to – is salvation in Christ Jesus. For it begins it’s dialog of earthly events in the Virgin Mary and ends with Jesus reigning as a King (Lion).

Christmas Conjunction Junction:

Though several important Messianic conjunctions occurred prior to the two we will show in this lesson, we are beginning with May 19, 3 B.C specifically because it focuses on John the baptizer. Furthermore, we are beginning our discourse with John simply for Chronological reasons as per the earthly “players” in God’s redemptive story line.

Now a conjunction is a partial or full alignment (from earth’s perspective) of any two luminous objects in space. It can be between a planet(-s)/star alignment or an alignment of two or more planets alone. Planets are the only visible heavenly object (other than a comet and meteor/meteorites) which move and reveal light. Stars emit light, while comets and planets reflect light. In the ancient world there was a distinction between planets, stars and comets as well, only they did not have those names. All luminary objects in the night sky were called stars. Planets were called “wandering stars” (αστήρ πλανήτης (astēr planētēs), meaning “wandering star”) because they moved. Comets were called falling stars or “stars with hair” as Aristotle would come to coin them.

The first of John’s heavenly signs was a conjunction between Mercury and Saturn in the foot of Tarus the Bull chasing Venus and followed by the Sun.

Mercury was known as the messenger of the gods. John the Baptist was also known as “the messenger” of God’s Son in Malachi 3:1. In fact, the name BImeans “messenger,” and this is the primary theme of his book.

Saturn was associated with Palestine or even with the deity who protected Israel.

Taurus – the bull is a constellation which appears to be rising up out of Aries of the lamb. In Hebrew Taurus is Shur, meaning “The Bull Coming” which comes from a root which means both coming and ruling.  In Hebrew astronomy Aries was named “Teli” and it signified either Simeon or Gad, and generally symbolizes the “Lamb of the World“.

Other Coptic names add additional meanings:

  • Isis – The one who saves mightily. (This word predates the Isis of Egypt)
  • Apis – The head or chief who comes.
  • Horias – The traveller who come to save.
  • Statio Hori – The one who comes to save.

3 of the brightest stars in Taurus and there meanings…

  • Al debaran – the brightest star in Taurus is in his head and means The captain, The leader or The governor.
  • El Nath – The second brightest star and located at the tip of the highest horn means, The Wounded or The Slain.
  • Al Cyone – Meaning, The Center, is the next brightest visible star and is located in the grouping of 7 stars called the Pleadies.

So what would this sign have indicated to knowledgeable onlookers in the middle east 2000 years ago?

You have “the messenger” and the……………FILL IN

Is it not probable that this sign in the heavens occurred at the time the angel announced to Zacharias that he was to have a son who would minister in the spirit and power of Elias?

The Magi were experts in astrological interpretations and would have viewed these things as signs. These signs motivated them to make the long trip west to thelandofJudea, knowing that the Messianic King had been born. There is little doubt that these Magi knew the prophecies of Daniel, who, centuries earlier, had been the head of that religious order for about 70 years (Dan. 2:48). We have no way of knowing how much of the truth had been corrupted by the time of Christ’s birth, but we do know that the Magi arrived at the right time and were led by God to the One they sought. That should speak for itself.

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!