In this Bible-study, we will examine Zechariah’s prophecy found in Luke 1:67-80. PMO-ENG
The Angel Gabriel had told Zechariah that his wife would conceive and deliver a son and that they should name the child John, but Zechariah did not believe him. Therefore, the angel caused Zechariah to be mute.
After the baby was born, when people asked for the child’s name and Zechariah wrote on the tablet that the child’s name was John, Zechariah’s speech returned to him, and he prophesied.
Filled with The Spirit
Notice that before he prophesied, Zechariah was filled with the Spirit. Just as the Spirit had filled Elizabeth and Mary, causing them to rejoice, praise the Lord, and prophesy, the Spirit now filled Zechariah and caused him to prophesy.
What God Did
In his prophecy, Zechariah says that God has done these things:
- Visited His people
- Redeemed His People
- Raised a horn of salvation for His people
Throughout the Bible, when God visits His people, He usually performs a miracle on their behalf (Genesis 21:1, Genesis 50:24-25, Exodus 4:31, 1 Samuel 2:21, Jeremiah 29:10)
The redemption spoke of by Zechariah most likely does not mean that God redeemed (rescued) His people from their sins at that moment, but rather that God redeemed (rescued) His people from their current state, a state of oppression. Zechariah’s reason for saying that God had done so is that, through the Christ (Messiah), God would actually do so in the future.
The visitation and the redemption of which Zechariah spoke were fulfilled in the horn of salvation that God raised for them. That is, by raising that horn of salvation, God visited and redeemed His people.
The Horn of Salvation
What is a horn of salvation? Zechariah is saying that the people of Israel were like a goat or ram without horns. Such goat or ram would be at an obvious disadvantage before other goats or rams, and would not be able to defend itself. However, God performed a miracle, causing the goat or ram (Israel) to grow a horn through which it will be victorious.
The horn of salvation of which Zechariah speaks is a descendant of King David, the promised Messiah (Christ).
In Daniel 8:3-7, you can see how other nations were said to also have horns.
The Fulfillment of Oaths and Prophecies
According to Zechariah’s prophecy, God’s visitation and redemption of His people by the rasing the horn of salvation (the Messiah) is a fulfillment of God’s words through his prophets, promises to the fathers, and oath to Abraham.
The fathers are not necessarily the patriarchs, but they are more likely past Jewish generations.
What God will Accomplish
According to Zechariah’s prophecy (Luke 1:74-75), by raising the hoorn of salvation in the house of David (in other words, by sending the Messiah to Israel), God will deliver Israel from the hand of its enemies so its people can serve God (1) without fear, (2) in holiness and righteousness, (3) before him, (4) all their days.
How exactly God fulfilled, or will fulfill, this deliverance is subject of debate among theologians, but it is noteworthy that Luke has mentioned it here.
What was Prophesied about John the Baptist
- John would be called “the prophet of the Most High” (he would be a prophet of God)
- John would prepare the ways of the Lord (he would be “the voice: in Isaiah 40:3)*
- John would tell people about salvation through to the forgiveness of their sins**
- That salvation from sins would be possible thanks to God’s tendery mercy (it would be a free gift of God’s grace)
*I hold that John was not the messenger in Malachi 3:1 since the messenger in Malachi 3:1 is the Lord and the messenger of the covenant. So, in Malachi 3:1, the messenger is the Messiah, Jesus.
**Notice that the theme in the prophecy changes from deliverance (salvation and redemption) from enemies to salvation from sins. It is possible, and I think likely, that verses 68-75 were about Israel’s far future (as in the future millennium), whereas verses 76 to 79 were about Israel’s near future (about the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, which would take place around the year 30 AD).
What was Prophesied about The Sunrise
The sunrise from on high appears to be a reference to the visible glory of God. God’s glory would descend from heaven to visit Israel, and it would give light to those in darkness and death, and it would guide their feet to peace.
Clearly, the sunrise here is Jesus, for Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3), what we can see of God (John 1:18). He would fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 9:2 and Matthew 4:16) by proclaiming the gospel and thus delivering from spiritual darkness and death those who believe (Acts 26:18).
Questions for Reflection
- Has God forgiven your sins? How do you know?
- Have you been saved from spiritual darkness and death?
- How is the idea of divine visitation similar to a spiritual revival? How is it different?
- Are you praying for a spiritual revival in your life and the life of your church?
Praise God and thank Him for sending Jesus and for all He has done in your life. Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit so you can praise Him and give Him thanks.
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