Monday, December 10, 2012

The Benedictus, A Hymn of Praise!

67 Then Zechariah, John’s father, was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:  68 "Let us praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come (visited) to help His people and has given them freedom (redemption).  69 He has given us a powerful Savior from the family of God’s servant David. 70 He said that He would do this through His holy prophets who lived long ago: 71 He promised He would save(deliver) us from our enemies and from the power of all those who hate us.  72 He said He would give mercy to our fathers and that He would remember His holy promise. 73 God promised Abraham, our father, 74 that He would save us from the power of our enemies so we could serve Him without fear, 75 being holy and good before God as long as we live. 76 “Now you, child (John), will be called a prophet of the Most High God. You will go before the Lord to prepare His way. 77 You will make His people know that they will be saved by having their sins forgiven. 78 With the loving mercy of our God, a new day from heaven will dawn upon us. 79 It will shine on those who live in darkness, in the shadow of death. It will guide us into the path of peace." Luke 1:67-79 (NCV). 

Luke 1:67-79 records Zechariah’s praise to God after months of silence. Zechariah’s praise is often called the Benedictus, and this is the second praise hymn of the birth narrative (the first hymn is Mary’s song found at Luke 1:46–55).  In this praise hymn, Zechariah celebrates God coming and visiting His people through the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ!  In the Benedictus, Zechariah prophesied that the coming Savior would redeem His people and his son, John, would prepare the Savior’s way. Zechariah was the father of John the Baptist and John had been chosen to pave the way for the Savior.  Moreover, Zechariah gave praise to God because God had kept all His promises announced through the Old Testament prophets of a coming Savior. 

In as early as Genesis, God promised Abraham to bless all peoples through him, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1–3; Zechariah 2:11–12). As the father of the nation of Israel, God promised Abraham that his descendants would bless the whole world. Jesus Christ, a descendent of Abraham, fulfilled this promise completely (Luke 1:72–73). Thus, people from all nations are blessed through faith in Abraham’s descendent, Jesus Christ, also called the “seed of Abraham.”  Moreover, Jesus Christ is the Horn of Salvation from the royal line of King David (Luke 1:32-33; Luke 1:69).  God promised King David an eternal Kingdom (2 Samuel  7:11-16; see also Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-5; Jeremiah 23:5-6).

Christmas celebrates God visiting His people through the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ at Bethlehem.  God previously visited His people to redeem them from the oppressive Egyptian slavery with the Exodus (Exodus 3; Exodus 12).  Now, Zechariah is celebrating God visiting His people again to deliver every one of their sin and evil through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.  This is why Christmas is so special because God has come and visited His people! God, through Jesus Christ, visited His people to bring a new redemption, deliverance, and a new covenant to save all people from their sin (Jeremiah 31:31–34). Now you can understand Zechariah’s excitement and praise!


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