One of my favorite Christmas stories in the Bible is about Zechariah (John the Baptist’s father) because of the prophecy he proclaims at the end of Luke 1.The background to his story goes like this: Zechariah was married to Elizabeth and they were an older couple that had never had children – and they didn’t expect to because of their age. One day, an angel came to Zechariah and told him that his wife would conceive and that the baby’s name would be John and he would prepare the way for the Messiah. Zechariah did not believe what the angel told him and he questioned in doubt. So the angel told Zechariah that since he didn’t believe, he wouldn’t be able to speak until the baby was born. So when Elizabeth delivered the baby, they named him John and Zechariah’s tongue was loosed and he began to praise God and prophecy. Read all of Luke 1 to set the scene – but we will pick up in verse 67 and study the prophecy that Zechariah spoke.
67Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69 He has sent us a mighty Savior
from the royal line of his servant David,
70 just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.
- After a long 9 months of silence, Zechariah begins praising the Lord! Everything that the angel had spoken to him came to pass and he saw how God kept His promise. How could he not praise the Lord?
- Zechariah proclaims that God has sent Israel a Savior to come and redeem them. A Savior that was promised long ago. In 2 Samuel 7:8-16, God promises David that his throne would be secure forever through his descendants. And we know that Jesus came from the line of David. God kept his promise to Zechariah and he also kept his promise to David!
- Just from these 4 verses, we can see that God keeps His promises! He is faithful and never backs out on His word. His promises hold true for us as well. One promise that Jesus gives us in Matthew 28:20 is that He will always be with us. If you’re going through a difficult or uncertain season of life, you can still praise the Savior because He keeps His promises, He is faithful, and He is always with you!
71 Now we will be saved from our enemies
and from all who hate us.
72 He has been merciful to our ancestors
by remembering his sacred covenant—
73 the covenant he swore with an oath
to our ancestor Abraham.
74 We have been rescued from our enemies
so we can serve God without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness
for as long as we live.
- The story of Abraham begins in Genesis 12. Abraham didn’t have a son but God promised him that there would be a great nation through his line. And through this line, God would send a Messiah to save the people.
- Can you imagine waiting and hoping for the Messiah to come? Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David were just pictures of the One to come. They could never save the people from sin and death. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel prophesied of the One to come but never experienced Him on earth. The promise of the long awaited Messiah was finally coming to pass – and it was a joyful time in Heaven and for those waiting in expectation for Him!
- What is it that you are waiting and hoping for in your life? What are you waiting on God to fulfill? Keep looking toward Him in expectation. God did not give Abraham a son until almost 25 years after the promise. He didn’t deliver Joseph from prison for 2 years. David didn’t take his throne until he was 30. God will come through in His timing. Trust Him because waiting is not wasting when you’re waiting on God.
- What enemies were the people being saved from? Ultimately from Satan, sin and death. They were saved from Satan’s hold on their lives, sin’s bondage, and an eternal death in hell. That same invitation is open for all today. To accept that invitation only requires believing and trusting on Christ’s eternal sacrifice, that His blood cleanses all sin, and that the work to become right with God is finished in Him. You realize you can’t live a perfect, sinless life and you need a Savior. Jesus is the only way to be saved from Satan, sin and death. Come to Him – He wants to save you.
76 “And you, my little son,
will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
77 You will tell his people how to find salvation
through forgiveness of their sins.
- Zechariah then prophecies over his boy. He proclaims what the angel told him earlier – that John will be a prophet to prepare the coming of Jesus. Mark 1:1-8 explains a little of John’s ministry. He would tell the people to repent from their sins but he would point them to the coming Messiah for their salvation.
- John was chosen to prepare the way for the Lord’s first coming. After Jesus completed His mission on earth, He descended to heaven to the Father but He promised that He would return a second time. So who is commissioned to prepare the way for Christ the second time? The church. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gives the mission to the church, to go and tell the world about Him. We are the “John the Baptists” for Jesus’ second coming. We are to point the world to the way of salvation and how to be forgiven for their sins.
- Father – help us to be a “John the Baptist” right where we are. Help to prepare the way for your second coming by pointing the world to you and telling them the way of salvation and forgiveness of sins. Amen.
78 Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”
- God not only wants to save you from sin and death but he wants a relationship with you. Verse 72 and 78 talk about God’s mercy – meaning he doesn’t give us something we deserve. He’s also gracious – giving us something we don’t deserve. He is gracious and merciful because He gave us the gift of salvation. This gift of salvation gives us the opportunity to have a relationship with the Father. We don’t have to have a mediator or intercessor on earth anymore because Jesus mediates and intercedes for us constantly and eternally. And there’s no more animal sacrifices to cover sin because Jesus is the eternal sacrifice and has cleansed us from all sin. And because of that sacrifice we can come to the Father directly. Praise Him!
- And because of God’s mercy, grace and love, He was sending the Light into a dark world. Jesus proclaims in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” The Light came to illuminate the dark through truth and grace. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” God’s truth and grace brought hope and peace to a world with no hope or peace.
- God sent the Light of the World to not only illuminate the darkness but for guidance and direction. The world is full of it’s own version of “truths” and “philosophies.” But Jesus came to guide and direct people to the truth about who He is and that He is the only way to God. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” The Word that became flesh, came as the Light of the World to illuminate and guide toward the path to peace. And that path to peace is having a relationship with the Most High God.
If you just sit and think about the plan of God for a moment, you will come to realize just how great and amazing He really is! God creates man, man sins, God gives the law to show man just how sinful he is, only for man to rebel and continue to rebel against God. So God wraps himself in flesh and comes to this dirty, broken, sinful world. Why? Because of His great love for man. To reconcile man back to himself. To take back what was originally His. To tell man that HE is the only way. To give grace and truth. To bring hope and peace. I can go on and on and never tell of God’s goodness. Praise Him for His plans, His fulfilled promises, and for always being faithful!