Advent: Day 23
“And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.’
And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.” (Luke 1:67–80)
Read: Luke 1:67-80
Zechariah’s prophecy (v. 67-75) is one long sentence. “It is often called the ‘Benedictus,’ from its first word in the Latin Vulgate” (ESV Study Bible). His prophecy begins with the same word, “blessing” that Mary’s song did, as well as psalms and prophecies in the Old Testament (1 Kings 1:48; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Ezra 7:27; Psalm 41:13; Psalm 72:18; Psalm 106:48). As a priest, Zechariah would have been intricately aware of the words he is choosing. He launches into a plethora of reasons the Lord is worthy of honor and praise.
The “God of Israel…has visited and redeemed his people.” This name, “God of Israel,” is used in both the Old and New Testaments (Isaiah 29:23; Matthew 15:31; Acts 13:17). God Himself has come. Jesus is no slave, servant, or messenger. He is the very Son of God—God in the flesh. Jesus came from the line of David (God’s servant) and He was spoken of by the prophets of God. Jesus was both servant and prophet, but these were not his most accurate descriptions. He is the Savior and Redeemer spoken of in 2 Samuel 22:3 and Psalm 18:2.
“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)
Zechariah ties Jesus’ coming not only to David’s line but also the Abrahamic Covenant: “holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham” (Luke 1:72-73). Zechariah brings so much clarity to Christ’s messianic Advent that many others completely missed. Christ’s fulfillment of His covenant stretches far beyond mere earthly kingdoms. There is more at stake here than conquering pagan armies and world peace. The desires that His people “might serve him without fear,” motivated and empowered by grace rather than the worldly fear that typified false gods (Luke 1:74). Christ came to conquer the more powerful and persistent enemies of pride, self, Satan, and sin. His purpose in coming was to make His people holy and righteous (eternally), not merely freedom from early rulers (Luke 1:75; Jeremiah 32:39; Matthew 28:20). God’s people have been shown infinite mercy. The Lord “has visited and redeemed His people!”
“Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’ and ‘God has visited his people!'” (Luke 7:16)
In verses 76-79, Zechariah directs his prophecy toward his new son, better known as “John the Baptist.” John will be known as the “prophet of the Most High.” We hear Jesus and others confirm this reality (Luke 7:26; Luke 20:6; Matthew 11:9; Matthew 14:5). John serves as the last human prophet before Christ (the final prophet). He prepared the way for the Lord himself to come, by preaching salvation through the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28; Mark 1:4). Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, is the “sunrise” would come to “visit us from on high” (Luke 1:78). Jesus is the very Light that pierces darkness to deliver those sitting in the shadow of death (Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 4:16; Acts 26:18; John 8:12). Those who trust in His name as the only way of salvation (John 14:6) are guided into the way of peace (Luke 2:14).
Jesus came to rescue us from our enemies. When you hear this statement? Where does your mind immediately turn? Do you think of good health, kind neighbors, and politicians that favor Christian morals? Ask the Lord to turn your eyes toward the reality of sin in your own heart remember that He came to rid you of its death grip on you. Sin ravishes and terrorizes every area of life, personal and social. Don’t make the mistake of the Pharisees and look for an earthly king.
Remember Christ’s purpose for saving His people. We are designed and called to “serve Him without fear”…in holiness and righteousness for eternity. Christ came so that we might abide in Him without the barrier of sin standing between us. He has torn the curtain. He has broken down the dividing wall built by our conscious rejection of His Lordship.
If you are already a follower of Christ, make a list of enemies that Jesus rescued you from (internal and external). If you don’t yet trust in Jesus as your Lord, then make a list of enemies that you need deliverance from. The Lord’s mission is to bring us back into a pure and whole relationship with Him, like before Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden.
Lord Jesus, thank you for proving yourself powerful over enemies in my life. You alone are capable of conquering the power of sin and temptation in my life. You alone can change the momentum of generational brokenness. You alone, by your grace, can make me holy and righteous.
Family Discipleship Time
Do you know what a prophecy is? (It’s something that is said about things that haven’t happened yet. If the prophecy comes true, and it glorifies the Lord by following His Word, then we know it is from God.)
Did Zechariah’s prophecy come true? (Yes, Jesus did all of the things that Zechariah said and Jesus is who Zechariah said He was. The second section, about his son (John), showed that Zechariah trusted the promises that he heard from Gabriel.)
What does this passage tell us about who Jesus is? (He is the “Lord God of Israel” who was promised in the family of David and Abraham. He is also known as the “Most High.”)
What does this passage tell us about what Jesus would do? (He is coming to visit and rescue His people. He will deliver them from their enemies and enable them to serve Him. He is merciful and is bringing salvation for all who will repent and turn to Him.)
- Article – “Be an Advent Gift of Encouragement” by Jon Bloom (Desiring God)
- Article – “3 Ways to Explain the Incarnation to Muslim Peoples” by Greg Handley (IMB)
- Article – “Tips and Tools to Help Your Kids Focus on Christ at Christmas” by Stephanie Jackson (SEBTS)