Luke 1:68-73 A Song of Gratitude 2/21/2016

 

 

 

#1. He Has Visited and Redeemed His People (Luke 1:67-70, Gen 3:15, Eph 1:3-5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2. Saved From Our Enemies (Luke 1:71-73, Rom 3:10, Psalm 58:3, Eph 2:1-3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3. Blessed Fulfillment (Luke 1:76-80)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to Luke 1:57 (2X). We are continuing in the series that is called "The Wisdom of God" (2X), and today is installment #18 in this series. As you know, for the past two weeks we have taken a look at the first 2/3rds of Luke chapter 1. Therefore, today we are going to finish the last 1/3rd of this chapter. But, you might say, this portion of Luke 1 deals with the birth of John the Baptist. That does not seem to be much of a Christmas sermon, does it? Well, we will see. The title for this 18th installment of this series is, "A Song of Gratitude" (2X). Let us first look at father Zacharias who was struck by the angel Gabriel with an inability to speak, because he did not believe the angel's message. Now we will discover that not only could he not speak, but he also could not hear. God had made him a deaf-mute. He was living in:

Lu 1:57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.

Lu 1:58-59 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.

Lu 1:60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.

Lu 1:61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.

Lu 1:62-64 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.

Lu 1:65-66 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What manner of child shall this be!" And the hand of the Lord was with him.

God made Zacharias live in a world of silence so that he might be a living example of what the nation of Israel was experiencing. The nation of Israel lived in a world of silence, because God had not spoken for about 400 years. God had not sent a prophet, or an angel, or a dream, or a vision, in 400 years. That is about twice as long as these United States of America exist. That is a long time. All the time that Elisabeth was pregnant with her baby John, that entire time father Zacharias lived in a world of silence. He was a picture of the nation of Israel. Likewise, all the time that the nation of Israel was pregnant with the coming of Messiah after their Babylonian captivity, that entire time the nation of Israel lived in a world of silence. The last prophet was Malachi, who prophesied after Nehemiah returned to the court of Persia, which was in 433 BC. There were no messages from God after Malachi. And thus, when Zacharias received a message from the angel Gabriel, that was great news in the nation of Israel. Zacharias was a priest. Therefore his vision, and what happened to him, and the birth of his son John, and the words he spoke after the birth of John were all told and retold in Jerusalem and in the temple and throughout all the hill country of Judaea. Now, contrast this with the conception and birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, who came so silently that even his stepfather Joseph did not know what was going on. This is a reminder that Christ, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God because He is the second Person of the Triune God head, "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men" (Phil 2:7). Christ humbled Himself, because God in His wisdom decided that Christ should come as a humble servant. Then the neighbors and all the family of Zacharias and Elisabeth wanted to name the child Zacharias. That was a lovely name. Zacharias means "God Remembers". Was not this child a marvelous proof that God remembered His people Israel? That was true, but God in His wisdom decided that this child should be named John. Actually John is a contraction of the Greek name "Johannes", which means "Jehovah Is Gracious". Jehovah is full of grace! He had been so named from heaven. The Word of God was fulfilled to the end. And then the amazing thing happened: The tongue of the thankful father was loosed, and he broke forth in praise to Jehovah. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God, for:

#1. He Has Visited and Redeemed His People (Luke 1:67-70, Gen 3:15, Eph 1:3-5)

We read here in Luke 1:67,

Lu 1:67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,

Lu 1:68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,

Lu 1:69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;

Lu 1:70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:

What made father Zacharias say that? Has God already visited and redeemed His people? But wait a minute. Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost. The Spirit of prophecy! And he prophesied, which means God inspired him to speak these words. What made God say these words? Did God make promises of salvation since the world began? O yes! Those glorious promises! Those were promises that were now at the entrance of their fulfillment. Especially the blessed promise of salvation to our first parents stands out. It was the promise of the Seed of the Woman. God said in Gen 3:15,

Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman, and between thy seed (Satan's seed) and her Seed; He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.

It was the promise that there would come a day when the head of Satan would be bruised to death by this one person, who is called the Seed of the Woman, referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. As you know, this promise was fulfilled when the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross and was raised again two days later on Easter morning. That is when Satan's head was bruised to death. This promise was made to Adam and Eve. God spoke this promise throughout the centuries to Noah, and to Shem, and to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to David the king, and to many others. Finally the promise was repeated through the mouth of the last of the prophets in the OT, through Malachi, who spoke of "the SUN of Righteousness", who would come with healing in His wings. And now the fulness of time had come. Christ was already conceived in the womb of Mary. Zacharias knew this, because Mary was a guest in their house for 3 months. But why would God speak about the fulfillment of this prophecy as if it has happened already? God said, "for he hath visited and redeemed his people". Past tense! Hold one finger here in Luke 1, and please turn about 240 pages to your right () to the Epistle to the Ephesians, chapter 1:3 (2X). God cleared up this question about the past tense in Zacharias' prophecy about 60 years later, when He dictated the Epistle to the Ephesians through the hands of the Apostle Paul. This is an Epistle where we find the Gospel in a condensed form, and stated so clearly that there can be no misinterpretation. God said in Eph 1:3-5,

Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Eph 1:4-5 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Paraphrased, God says here that He has chosen (He has elected) out of the entire human race a people for Himself, and God made that choice before the foundation of the world. Moreover, He has predestinated this group of people (His elect) to be adopted as children of God through Jesus Christ, which implies they are adopted as children of God through the suffering and death of Christ on the cross and through His resurrection from the grave. Moreover, this decision of God to bestow His blessings on this group of people was not based on any good character traits these people have, or on anything they have done, or on anything they would do for God in the future, but this decision of God was based entirely "according to the good pleasure of his will". This is what God says here in Eph 1:3-5. This means then that the sin of Adam and Eve did not catch God by surprise. Of course! God says, "He is declaring the end from the beginning". And thus the curse on Satan in Gen 3:15 where God says, "He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel", which meant that Satan would be instrumental in bringing Christ to the cross, that was also in the plan of God from before the foundation of the world. That is why God could say that He has "chosen us in Christ from before the foundation of the world". And that is why Zacharias could say, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people". Please turn again to the Gospel according to Luke 1:68 (2X). God has indeed visited His people and predestined them to be redeemed by Christ from before the foundation of the world. That is what God said through the mouth of the priest Zacharias. And then in verse 69 God said that He has raised up

Lu 1:69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;

Lu 1:70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:

God has raised up a horn of salvation for His people in the house of David. A horn indicates strength. The horn of David was not literally in his house. The Bible demonstrates that David had no

power to deliver himself, or to destroy his enemies. But the King of Israel, the Horn of David, is Christ. God speaks about this Horn of David in the Psalms. Let me read to you from Psalm 132:17,

Ps 132:17 There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed (2X).

And when will the Horn of David begin to bud, or to sprout? It is when the Lord Jesus will be born. That was the beginning of the fulfillment of God's promise that He would bring deliverance from Satan by bringing Christ to the cross to pay for our sins. This is what Christmas is. We rejoice in the fact that Christ came unto this earth as a baby, to begin the process of the forgiveness of our sins. When God speaks of "mine anointed" it refers to Christ, and when God says, "I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed", it means that Christ is the Light of the world, as He also said Himself. Therefore, when we read in Luke 1:69 that God "hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David", it means that God has raised up Christ for us in the lineage of David. Both Mary and Joseph were of the lineage of David and Christ was already conceived and was growing in the womb of Mary.

But God said, "For Us". Who are Us in verse 69? Well, they are the same group as His people in verse 68? And who are His people? Are all the blood descendants of Jacob, the Jews, His people? Not according to God's Word! Judas Iscariot was a blood descendant of Jacob. But the Bible says that he is going to Hell. The wicked kings of Israel were all blood descendants of Jacob, but they all died in their sins, in rebellion against God. There are many more blood descendants of Jacob who I could name, who fall in this category, but this should be sufficient to prove that Christ did not suffer and die for all the blood descendants of Jacob. And neither did He suffer the equivalent of Hell for all those whom He knew would have to pay for their own sins in Hell. Christ did not atone for the sins of every human being on this earth, but He atoned for the sins of His People, like verse 69 says "For Us". And who are those? They are the same people who were mentioned in Eph 1:4. They are those whom God "has chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world". These were the people whose sins were paid. And there is not a single human being outside this group of people who desires to have Christ as their Master. The Lord Jesus said in John 6:65, "Therefore said I unto you, that no man CAN come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father". Now, this is not a popular doctrine, and it was not popular in the time of Jesus either. The Bible says, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him". Therefore, God says in Luke 1:69 that He has raised up a Horn of salvation, Christ, and He has raised Him up particularly for His people who are drawn from all nations and tongues and tribes and people of the world. God sent His Son to atone for the sins of Zacharias, and Elisabeth, and Mary, and Joseph, and all those people whom God chose from before the foundation of the world. Can you see that Zacharias was jubilant about this? Can you see that Zacharias spent most of the time talking about Christ, rather than about his own son? He sings a song of gratitude to God for beginning to fulfill His promises that He has repeated throughout the centuries: "The coming of Messiah". And then Zacharias spoke about being:

#2. Saved From Our Enemies (Luke 1:71-73, Rom 3:10, Psalm 58:3, Eph 2:1-3)

He says in verse 71,

Lu 1:71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;

Lu 1:72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;

Lu 1:73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,

First of all, who are our enemies? Was Zacharias speaking about the Roman soldiers who were occupying the land? This cannot be true, because the Bible is written for people of all times and all places. The Italian armies are no threat to us. What is the answer then? According to the Bible the entire population of the world can be classified in two armies: Those who are on the side of Christ, and those who are on the side of Satan. If we are on the side of Christ, then all those on the side of Satan are our enemies. Who are they, and where are they? After the fall of Adam and Eve all people born into this world are born in the camp of Satan and are slaves of Satan. He own them as his slaves, and they willingly obey Satan. God says in Rom 3:10, "There is NONE righteous, NO, NOT ONE". No one is righteous enough to go to heaven. No one is free from sin, and that includes infants and babies. God says in Psalm 58:3, "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies". God speaks here about newborn babies who commit sin as soon as they are born. We cannot imagine such things. But God wrote this in the Bible to let us know what our condition is or was before Christ saved us. God says in Eph 2:3, "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others". This spells it out in no uncertain terms. People come into the world in a wicked state of mind, and if they die in that condition they continue to be under the wrath of God, forever. Thus the whole human race, including children and babies, are under the wrath of God, and are on a slippery slide into Hell. That is what we need to be saved from. Every human being is in need of salvation. Therefore, if God wants to save someone, He does not have to look for those who are kindhearted, or for those who are drawn to do good works, or for those who are drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ. There are NONE! If God wants to save someone, He has to change that person's heart, or soul, so that this person will love to hear the Bible read, and will love to come to Christ, and will love to do things that are pleasing in God's sight. But that is not the response of any human being by nature. By nature we are drawn to do just the opposite of what is pleasing to God. In other words, God would have to elect that person unto salvation, and God would have to change this person's soul by His irresistible grace and give this person faith, or else this person is not going to be saved.

Why then do we need to be delivered from our enemies? Because our enemies are always a hindrance to us in serving our God faithfully. Satan and his demons and all those who are still under the wrath of God are busily trying to convince us that we are insane, or that we are drawn into a cult. Our enemies work overtime to keep us in the camp of Satan. And once we have left the camp of Satan we are considered traitors, or we are considered religious fanatics. But all that has happened to us is that we have received the MERCY of God. Read Luke 1:72 again. The Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth "to perform the MERCY promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant" with us which He covenanted before the foundation of the world. What is the definition of mercy? Mercy is God withholding what we do deserve. We deserve to go to Hell. But then Christ stepped in to take our place. That is actually what happened at the cross. The Lord Jesus Christ took the guilt of all our sins upon Himself, and then He paid the payment that was due for our sins. What did we have to pay? An eternity in Hell, in body and soul. What did Christ have to pay in our place? The equivalent of an eternity in Hell, in body and soul. Since our God is a righteous Judge, He must demand a payment that is equivalent to the payment required. Let God figure out what an equivalent payment is for the Lord Jesus Christ. When Christ suffered this payment in His body and in His soul, while He was hanging on the cross, the guilt of our sins was erased. No more guilt means no more Hell. This is the MERCY of God. Whenever we read in the Bible about God's mercy, we should think of the cross, and how great the suffering of Christ was in body and in soul. Then, in our lifetime, God sent the Holy Spirit in our life and changed our heart, or our soul, so that we became "Born Again". And what was the result? The result was that we could

We read now in Luke 1:74-75,

Lu 1:74-75 "That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life".

When God grants us to be delivered out of the hand of our enemies, it means that God has given us the faith to believe this Gospel. And we know that we have believed when our actions and our lifestyle have changed from serving the world to serving God. Faith implies an active life, serving the Master whom we want to please. Therefore we look for things to do that are pleasing in His sight. This is what it means to be delivered out of the hand of our enemies, Satan and his demons. This is what it means to be snatched out of Hell, and this is what it means that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against us to keep us there. When Christ saved us in our lifetime, through the operation of His Holy Spirit, He took us out of the kingdom of Satan, brought us past the gates of Hell, and placed us in the Kingdom of Christ for all eternity. This is what Christ came to do when He was born.

And why would we serve God now without fear? This refers to the fear of Hell. When we are not saved we fear Him who can send us to Hell. That fear is removed when we have become saved. We serve Him without the fear of Hell, because He who is mightier than the Devil was able to take us into His Kingdom. We have undergone a "metamorphosis", from a slave of Satan to a son of God. It is such a glorious transformation that we like Zacharias want to break out in a song of gratitude. Almighty God adopted us as sons of God. This is what the Bible says. That we might serve Him "in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life". God is hereby guaranteeing that we shall persevere in the faith all the days of our earthly life. And then, of course, we will serve Him in the NH&NE for an eternity. And now that Messiah has been conceived in the womb of Mary, God hereby declared that the fulness of time had come. The

#3. Blessed Fulfillment (Luke 1:76-80)

of the promise of God was standing at the door. And now father Zacharias turned to his baby John

Lu 1:76 "And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;

Lu 1:77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,

Lu 1:78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,

Lu 1:79-80 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace". And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.

John the Baptist had the honor to point out the Lord Jesus. "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world". The nation of Israel was looking for a redeemer, but they looked in all the impossible places. They wanted a redeemer who would drive the Romans into the sea. But God sent a Redeemer of a different kind. God would deliver them from the power of these enemies of God and His people, not by an external deliverance from their oppression by the Romans, but by that spiritual liberation that would set them free, so that they might serve God without fear. It was a salvation by the remission of sins. This was the heart of the deliverance God had promised, and now began to be fulfilled in him who was to go before the face of the Lord, to prepare the way before him, and to give to His people knowledge of this salvation. A new Kingdom would be founded, and a new order of things would be ushered in and be established. It was the spiritual order of the Kingdom of heaven. And in that Kingdom they would be truly free. They would be delivered from all who hated them. What a blessed fulfillment of God's promise. It was a glorious fulfillment.

Christ is the "Dayspring From on High"! We have seen already three weeks ago how Christ was the "SUN of Righteousness" with healing in His wings. We have seen two weeks ago that Christ was the fulfillment of the prayer of Zacharias, who prayed for "a Deliverer" of the people of Israel. We have seen one week ago that Christ was the "Mighty One of Jacob" and that He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever. And today we see Him as the "Dayspring From on High". For He is from above, God of God, reaching down into our darkness, striking a pathway of light through our night, guiding our feet in the way of peace, showing us the way out, out of the night into the glory of eternal day, out of sin into righteousness, out of the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God, out of death into life! He is the Dayspring From on High, to shine by His Spirit into the hearts of those that sit in darkness, in the shadow of death. And to guide forever their feet into the way of peace. What a blessed fulfillment. And for the beginning of the realization of this promise Zacharias points to the child who was to be the "Herald of the dawn"! He would preach repentance. That is a dirty word these days. People want to be saved without repentance. But salvation without repentance is no salvation. It is a make believe gospel. John would preach:

And far from the altar. John would teach his audience and give them the new knowledge that salvation consists in the remission of sins. They would have to learn a great deal. The temple and its service, the altar and its sacrifice, the priest and his ministrations, the earthly glory of David's house and its kingdom, their national pride, the earthly Jerusalem and the earthly Mount Zion, all these would have to disappear to make place for the reality to which the shadows pointed: Salvation by the remission of sins through the crucifixion of Christ. What a blessed realization of the promise.

God said it with pinpoint accuracy in Rom 11:36, where He said, "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen". Think about this now. All things originate of Him. This not only includes all material things, but also the church, the OT church as well as the NT church, all the saved people and all the circumstances leading to their salvation, and all he unsaved people and the circumstances leading to the hardening of their hearts, and so on. There is not anything made that was not created by Him and for Him.

And through Him all things relate to His MERCY. His tender mercy, His eternal, free, and sovereign mercy, is the eternal source of all this light in darkness, of all this life from death, of all this blessedness in our misery! For He loved His people from before the foundation of the world. And He ordained them, in His free and sovereign determination of grace, to be conformed unto the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren. And He knew us, eternally, in our misery, as we sat in the darkness of the night of sin, in the shadow of death. And look how merciful He is, eternally merciful to us, filled with the immutable will and desire and purpose to deliver us from all our enemies, to save us from the power of sin and death, to clothe us with garments of righteousness that can never be soiled, to fill us with the glory of an eternal life that can never be touched by death and corruption. And He ordained the Dayspring From on High, His only begotten Son, to stand at the head of us, poor objects of His mercy, to enter into our night, to strike through the darkness the pathway of light, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

And why would He do that? Just one answer: For His own Name's sake!

AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.