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[John’s] father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because He has come to His people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a Horn of Salvation for us
in the house of His servant David
(as He said through His holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember His holy covenant,
the oath He swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve Him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
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,
to give His people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the Rising Sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Luke 1:67-79
Points to Ponder:
Early in this Advent series, we devoted a day of study to Magnificant, or Mary’s Song that expressed the joy and humility she felt upon receiving news that she had been chosen to bear the incarnate Son of God. Today’s Scripture features another piece of poetic literature whose topic coincides with that of Magnificant: the Song of Zechariah also known as Benedictus.
In the passage, Zechariah – inspired by the Holy Spirit and obviously beaming over the miraculous birth of his son, John the Baptist – took an opportunity to both show his gratitude to God the Father and to prophesy concerning the work of redemption that Messiah would mercifully accomplish. In the incarnation of Jesus Christ, God would extend unmerited grace to His people; this up-close-and-personal visit would both redeem them and fulfill the promise of Emmanuel, God With Us. Which actually sums up Christ’s mission for entering the world — to bring redemption to those sold for sin and sold under sin. In case you’re wondering, Zechariah fell into that category; Mary fell into that category; you and I fall into that category.
So in light of the fact we are included with Zechariah in the category of Christ’s redeemed, I would like you to give another look at today’s passage from Luke. After reading the passage in its entirety, zero in on the phrase, and to enable us to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. Think about what this phrase implies – not that we have to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness – but that we get to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness. There’s an exciting point to all of this: we get to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness as a specific result of what He Himself has done for us through the sweet, satisfying, sustaining presence of Jesus. And what God has done for us through His only Son boils down to one overarching idea expressed by the theme of His holiness. God the Father demonstrated through the gift of Christ that:
His
Omnipotent
Love
Is
Nectar to
Every
Soul who
Seeks Him.
In a literal way, then, we may consider the Benedictusof Zechariah as a hymn of sorts to God’s grace and a meditation on the meaning of his son’s name, “God is gracious.” 
There is a twist to the words penned by Zechariah that is amazing and should give us something to rejoice over. The Apostle Paul writes that Scripture is timeless, applicable to all generations (see 2 Timothy 3:16) . Benedictus gives us a prime example of that point. It is absolutely a song of grace about what God did for Israel, for Zechariah and Elizabeth themselves, even what He did for you and me through the incarnate birth of His Son. At the same time, Benedictus may be used as a song of grace about what Christ will do for His followers when He returns in power, glory, holiness and righteousness to earth.
Zechariah sings because God has had mercy in visiting and redeeming His people;
            We sing because Christ will return to gather His redeemed.
Zechariah sings because God has had mercy in raising up a Horn of Salvation;
            We sing because God has saved us and given us the promise of eternal life.
           
Zechariah sings because God has had mercy in delivering Israel out of the hand of her enemies;
We sing because God deliver us daily from the hand of Satan and at Christ’s second
coming will deliver us from his vices once and for all.
Zechariah sings because God has had mercy in sending a Savior who will forgive sins and
remember Israel’s waywardness no more;
We sing because God has forgiven not only forgiven our sins but will not remember
them when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Zechariah sings because God has had mercy in visiting Israel with the Dayspring from on High;
We sing because that same Dayspring dwells permanently within Christ’s followers
through His ever-present Holy Spirit.
           
What God spoke to Zechariah some 2,000 years ago, then, is what He is speaking to us here, now, in 2016. May our response to the gift poured out in His holiness be every bit as full of joy and thanksgiving as the words of Zachariah, a proclamation of God’s grace and blessing, a proclamation that gives glory back to the Giver Himself.
– Copyright 2016, Carole Anne Hallyburton. All Rights Reserved.
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Focus for Reflection:
Does the proclamation of the Gospel and its promises fill you with joy and hope?
Do the words of Zechariah in Luke 1:67-79 in any way shape or reshape your source of joy as you wait expectantly for Christ’s second coming? How so?
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