SOME POWERFUL THEOLOGY
Lord, with Zechariah we proclaim, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel” (Luke 1:68).
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.
a Luke 1:69 Horn here symbolizes a strong king.
b Luke 1:80 Or in the Spirit
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.
“God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant… So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them” (Exod. 2:24,25).
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Zechariah breaks out in prophecy—in words of great theological weight (I’ll quote from the ESV because some of this is lost in the NIV translation): “visited,” “redeemed” (68), “salvation” (69), “mercy,” “promised,” “remember,” “covenant” (72), “oath” (73), “serve” (74), “holiness,” “righteousness” (75).
Some of these words may not appear theologically weighted, but in the Scriptures the word “visit” means more than just to see a person. Rather, it means to go in order to help. Similarly, to “remember” is more than just bringing to mind, but rather it’s to call to mind and to act accordingly. God’s “oath” is inviolate and determinative. “Holiness” and “righteousness” have acquired unfavorable implications of piety or sanctimoniousness. It’s difficult to find words for these qualities in today’s English. The best way to think about them is to think about the character of Jesus himself and his authoritative way of handling himself, not passively but resolutely and at times confrontational.
This is the way God operates, even in times past when he has seemed distant and unconcerned. We all know times like this when he seems far away, when our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling. We are assured, however, that he hears, remembers, and cherishes us.
This was Zechariah’s experience during his long life prior to Gabriel’s visit—and the experience of Israel for 400 years prior to that. It was the experience of many in the Old Testament and voiced in many of the psalms. We now hear from Zechariah how dawn has finally broken, how even in darkness and the shadow of death there shines the light of Christ’s love.
Tease out from this passage more of its theological riches and reflect on how they apply to your own life.
Lord, grant us the patience to wait on You as You work out Your overall plan of the ages.
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