‘EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING’1
Dear Lord, I praise you for your everlasting love, enduring patience, and the greatest gift of all, the possibility of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Read LUKE 1:67–80
67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn[a] of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit[b]; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘O come, thou Dayspring … disperse the gloomy clouds of night / and death’s dark shadows put to flight.’2
Zechariah, one-time doubter, now turns prophet under the inspiration of the Spirit. The neighbors were in awe, all of Judaea was talking, but Zechariah is granted special insight. His language was steeped in the Old Testament. Recalling the words of Gabriel and picking up Isaiah 40:3, he sees that his son is to prepare the way (v 76). He can see, with further echoes of Malachi 4:2 (v 78), what lies beyond. It might be worth looking back through the verses and identifying the benefits that will come to God’s people. At the very least we see salvation (vs 69,71,77), rescue (v 74), freedom from fear (v 74), the ability to serve in righteousness and holiness (v 75), forgiveness (v 77), light, life, and peace (v 79). For Zechariah these are still couched largely in terms of national Israel; there is still much more to be revealed, but there is no doubt that the faithful God is acting to fulfill his ancient promises. Zechariah can rejoice in what God is doing. With the better understanding coming from the benefit of subsequent revelation, we, this Christmas Day, can rejoice in so much more.
Try to take some time in the middle of the festivities to think of the benefits that Zechariah mentions and the way in which they apply to us as new covenant people of God. Salvation, not from national enemies but from the power of sin, and rescue from the control of evil. Forgiveness and freedom from the crippling guilt and shame of sin. The entry into new life and a peace with God. If you can find the time, reflect on other New Testament passages, such as Ephesians 1:3–14 or Romans 5:1–11.
As you worship with other Christians, enjoy time with family and friends, and exchange gifts, let the wonder of what God has done for you sink into your heart and mind afresh.
Gracious Lord, today I thank you for all you have done for me through the coming of Jesus. Forgiveness, freedom, new life and peace with the Father. Thank you Lord.
1 See Eph 1:3 2 Hymns A&M, 1861, translated from the Latin, ‘O come, O come, Immanuel’
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