For the past decade – since September of 2004 – most of my Wednesday evenings have been spent studying with and pondering lectures by Christian scholar, Bible translator and Carmel resident Dr. George Bebawi.
George, retired from the Divinity faculty at Cambridge University, England, prepares lengthy notes for each class and then like the university lecturer he is, often puts the notes away (figuring you can read them later) and lectures on corollary topics. East 91st Street Christian Church in northeast Indianapolis is host of the weekly series and this fall George is teaching The Gospel of Luke: Witness to the Gentiles.
A recent class handout discussed the birth of John the Baptist in Luke 1. Among his notes George listed several echoes and fulfillments of Old Testament prophecies, promises and personalities. John’s mother Elizabeth, like Isaac’s mother Sarah, was well past child-bearing age. John is filled with the Holy Spirit, as was Elijah. John’s father Zechariah, a priest who entered the Holy of Holies, emerges mute, unable to pronounce the customary blessing “The Lord bless you and keep you …, etc., that appears in Numbers 6:24-26.
Good, standard stuff. Then came George’s zinger: Why was Zechariah mute? Well, because the priestly blessing from the Old Testament is about to become unnecessary because the True and Final blessing – the person of Jesus Christ – is on the way in the womb of Elizabeth’s young relative Mary.
Like so many things George says, I’d never thought of that.
His lecture included other pearls. Warning against “biblical anemia,” George listed several things we miss if we read the Old Testament without understanding the tangible arrival and work of Jesus Christ in the Gospels of the New Testament.
For example, in the 23rd Psalm the Lord is a comforting Shepherd, even as we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” In the New Testament our shepherd is Jesus Christ, who dies for us. I hadn’t thought of that, either.
George pointed to four things missing in the great Old Testament prophesies of Isaiah: 1) the actual fulfillment of those prophesies, 2) the real arrival of the Messiah, 3) the materialization of the light of life in the person of Christ, and 4) and the coming of God himself among us in His son Jesus. Isaiah presents true predictions, but the Truth of Jesus Christ comes to fruition in the Gospels.
George also had compelling things to say about angels, worship, humanity, and the truth of our destiny in the person of Jesus Christ.
All something to think about.
More next week.
Walters (email@example.com) coordinates George’s E91 class, which is free and open to the public Wednesdays 6:30-7:45 p.m. in the upstairs Sun Room.