Advent: Zechariah’s Prophecy
“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, just like many Old Testament psalms and prophecies (1 Kings 1:48; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Ezra 7:27; Psalm 41:13; Psalm 72:18; Psalm 106:48). Zechariah was intricately aware of the words he chose. He launched 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 had come. Jesus was no mere slave, servant, or messenger. He is God the Son—God in the flesh. He came from the line of David and He was spoken of by the prophets of God. Jesus was both servant and prophet, but that is not all. He is the Savior and Redeemer promised 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 to both David’s line and the Abrahamic Covenant: “holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham” (Luke 1:72-73). Zechariah brings clarity to Christ’s messianic Advent that many others missed. Christ’s fulfillment of His covenant stretches far beyond mere earthly kingdoms. There was more at stake than conquering pagan armies and achieving world peace. The Lord desired that His people “might serve him without fear,” empowered by grace rather than the worldly fear that typified false gods (Luke 1:74). Christ came to conquer the enemies of pride, self, Satan, and sin. His purpose was to make His people holy and righteous (Luke 1:75; Jeremiah 32:39; Matthew 28:20). 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 the prophecy toward his new son, “John the Baptist.” John would be known as the “prophet of the Most High.” Jesus and others confirmed this reality (Luke 7:26; Luke 20:6; Matthew 11:9; Matthew 14:5). John served 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” that came to “visit us from on high” (Luke 1:78). Jesus pierced the 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 (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. He came to rid you of its death grip. Sin ravishes and terrorizes every area of life, personal and social. Don’t make the mistake of the Pharisees and look for a mere 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 separating us. He has torn the curtain. He has broken down the dividing wall built by our rejection of His Lordship.
If you are already a follower of Christ, make a list of the enemies 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.
Lord Jesus, thank you for proving yourself powerful over the enemies in my heart. You alone are capable of conquering the power of sin and temptation. 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. 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 called the “Most High.”)
What does this passage tell us about what Jesus would do? (He was coming to visit and rescue His people. He would 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)
Free Advent Bible Study (2023)
Let’s stand back and marvel at God’s grace and sovereignty, and focus on God this Christmas. May we join with the angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14).
Join this 25-day Advent journey as we worship Christ and celebrate his coming.
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