Songs For A Saviour: Zechariah’s Song – Luke 1:5-25 & 57-80

By John Bellingham on December 10, 2017
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Songs For a Saviour:  Zechariah’s Song

Luke 1:5-24, 57-80

I.  Zechariah’s Transgression – vv. 5-25

1)     Zechariah’s Identity

  1. A Levitical Priest
    1. One of 18,000 Priests in Israel
    2. Ongoing responsibility to instruct God’s people
    3. Bi-annual responsibility in the Temple
    4. Once in a lifetime responsibility to burn incense in the Holy Place
  2. A ‘Righteous’ and ‘Blameless’ man
    1. Although Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth lived during a time of legalism and widespread spiritual apostasy, they were true worshippers of the one true God
    2. Righteous before God’ – they had placed their faith in the Messiah who was yet to come
    3. Walking Blamelessly’ – they were being sanctified through obedience to God’s Word

2)     Zechariah’s Encounter

  1. An angel appears at the moment when Zechariah is offering incense in the Holy Place
    1. Incense symbolizes the prayers of God’s people
    2. God is now answering centuries of daily prayer
  2. The angel (Gabriel) brings good news
    1. God is going to give them a son in their old age
    2. He will be the prophet foretold in the Old Testament – cf. Malachi 4:5-6;  Isaiah 40:1-3
    3. He will herald the coming of the Messiah

3)     Zechariah’s Response

  1. Zechariah responds to Gabriel in unbelief
  2. As a punishment for his lack of faith Zechariah is struck both mute and deaf

 

II.  Zechariah’s Transformation – vv. 57-66

1)     God fulfilled His promise just as the angel had said

2)     Elizabeth insists that her son be named ‘John’

  1. It was the name given by the angel – v. 13
  2. It is a name that speaks of God’s grace (John/ Yochanan = Yahweh is gracious)
  3. It was not the name the relatives expected!

3)     Zechariah also insists that his son be named ‘John’

  1. The Greek is emphatic – ‘John is his name!’
  2. Nine months of silent contemplation did Zechariah a world of spiritual good!

Application:

–  The story of Zechariah reminds us that God’s discipline, however difficult it may seem at the time, is always intended for our spiritual good – cf. Hebrews 12:11

–  Whenever we go through a difficult trial we should recognize that God has a sovereign plan and a compassionate heart.   God had a purpose in Elizabeth’s years of barrenness, and He had also had a purpose in Zechariah’s months of silence.    God has a plan and a purpose in your affliction too!

–  The way Luke tells this story invites us to contrast the unbelief of Zechariah with the faith of Mary.  It is a reminder that ‘without faith it is impossible to please God’

 

III.  Zechariah’s Tribute – vv. 67-80

1)     A Blessing for the God who keeps His promises!

  1. God kept His promise to David – cf. 2 Samuel 7
    1. Although Christ’s redemptive work was still a future event, Zechariah speaks as though it has already been accomplished
    2. Horn of Salvation’ – a prophetic symbol of power, authority and judgment – cf. Psalm 132:17
  2. God kept His promise to Abraham – cf. Genesis 12-15, 22:17-18

2)     A prophecy about ‘John the Baptist’

  1. He will be the new ‘Elijah’ who breaks 400 years of divine silence in Israel
  2. He will be the prophet who God chose to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah
    1. His ministry will bring an acute awareness of sin and mankind’s need of salvation and forgiveness
    2. His ministry will signal the end of spiritual darkness – cf. Isaiah 9:2; Mal 4:2; John 1:6-9, 8:12

Application:

Zechariah’s Christmas song reminds us that the God of the Bible always keeps His promises.   His forgiveness and grace was not only intended for Jewish believers like Zechariah and Elizabeth, but for every ‘family of the earth’ – Gen 12:3.  Let’s follow Zechariah’s example and praise our covenant keeping God this Christmas season!

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