The Gospel of Luke: Zechariah’s Prophecy of Salvation (Luke 1:67-71)

A message text of Sunday, August 19, 2018 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

We are continuing Luke’s gospel regarding John the Baptist’s birth.  This morning we will focus on Zechariah, as we have done in the beginning of this chapter.  If you can recall, in Luke 1:8-30, Luke introduces Zechariah in his narrative.  The angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah at the time he was serving in the temple.  Gabriel announced to Zechariah that he and his wife will be parents to God’s promised prophet, John the Baptist.  Zechariah did not believe Gabriel’s words.  It was unimaginable for him to believe that he and his wife, in their old age, being 70 to 80 years of old could conceive and bear a child.  Therefore, he was punished for his unbelief.  His punishment resulted in muteness and deafness.

At the time Zechariah responded in unbelief, the angel Gabriel said:

“…I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.  And behold you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time” (Luke 1:19-20 ESV)

“Until the day that these things take place.”  That day came nine months later. For nine months Zechariah was introspective and contemplative about his actions and unbelief that resulted in his inability to speak and hear.  If we were like Zechariah, not able to speak and hear for any length of time, I believe we would ask ourselves theological questions.  We would ask ourselves how, why and what caused this condition.  We would reprioritize our bucket list.  This is what happens whenever people encounter a life crisis.

After John the Baptist was born, Elizabeth and Zechariah’s friends and family asked what shall the name of the child be?  Elizabeth emphatically said, his name is John.  Because throughout her pregnancy she was faithful to God’s word.  However, her friends and family felt indifferent about John’s name, so they asked Zechariah, what shall the child’s name be?  Zechariah asked for a writing tablet to reaffirm his wife words to everyone that his son’s name is John, and by so doing, his hearing and speech was restored.  Zechariah speech and hearing were restored unto him because he finally believed in God’s word by which “his mouth. . . opened and his tongue loosed, and he blessed God” (Luke 1:64).  If you were like Zechariah, after regaining your speech and hearing, what would’ve been your first words?  How would you have felt?  Would you praise God because your speech and hearing was restored?  This leads us to our passage.

Please notice that in Luke 1:67, he juxtapositionally placed the restoration of Zechariah’s speech and hearing together with him being filled by the Holy Spirit.  As I have stated before, the reason Zechariah could not speak was due to his unbelief.  This illustrates to us that unbiblical emotions and unbelief can inhibit us from being influence by the Holy Spirit.  When a person is filled with wrath, vengeance, unfaithfulness, unforgiveness, impurity, etc., these unbiblical characteristics quenches the Spirit from prompting and controlling us.

Allow me to provide several examples of this point.  In Luke 4:28, he writes that the Jews in Nazareth wanted to throw Jesus off a cliff because they were “filled with wrath”.  In Acts 13:45, Paul was in Antioch preaching and as he was speaking, the Jewish people were “filled with jealousy” because Paul’s preaching was attracting others to the gospel of Jesus; the gospel of grace.  The point is this: a person will not be filled with the Spirit of God if they are being influenced by something else.  Gabriel announced to Zechariah that his son, John the Baptist, “must not drink wine or strong drink” which possibly signified a Nazarite vow; but moreover, that announcement pointed towards that John “will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15).  That is, John was under the influenced of the Holy Spirit from the time of his birth.  In the same fashion, Paul instructs us to “not get drunk with wine . . . but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with [our hearts], giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father” (Ephesians 5:19-20).  This is exactly what Zechariah did.  When Zechariah was capable to speak he burst into a song of praise and thankfulness.  His unbelief left him mute and deaf for nine months, his faithfulness swayed him to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to sing a joyful praise to God.

We believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  We believe that God can allow people to have the ability to speak in different languages, that is, speaking in tongues; and we believe God allow people to possess gifts of healing and miracles (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Ephesians 4:11).  So, it is not surprising when Zechariah was able to prophesy because he was filled with the Holy Spirit who gave Zechariah that ability.  And in Luke’s gospel, the work of the Holy Spirit is explicitly demonstrated.  He was involved in the conception of Jesus.  For example, Luke recorded the words of Gabriel while he was speaking to Mary, Gabriel said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35); and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit by which she blessed Mary for being the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:41).

Prophesying is foretelling the future; most importantly, it is declaring what God has deemed to be true.  Therefore, whenever a person says that they have the gift of prophesy and they speak on the behalf of God their words must be one-hundred percent true.  Because “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind” (Numbers 23:19).  What God declared to be true will always be true.

The connection between David, Abraham and John illustrates to us that there is only one story, one Testament and one religion. From a biblical standpoint, the New Testament does not eradicate the Old Testament and that the true religion of Judaism is found in Christ Jesus.  Paul understood this truth.  Paul converted from a false religious system of Judaism and found true religion in Christ Jesus (cf. Acts 26:22-23).  Christianity is the true religion that confirms the truth of the Old Testament.  Therefore, our Lord said,

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:17-18 ESV).

According to Luke 1:67-71, Zechariah prophesied about the covenantal promised that God made to David.  He prophesied about the Abrahamic covenant, according to verses 72-75.  And from verses 76-80, Zechariah speaks of John the Baptist, the Messiah forerunner, that he would help usher in the new covenant of eternal salvation that is only found in Jesus Christ. Therefore, Zechariah’s prophesy points to God’s overarching plan to save his people.

In verse 68 Zechariah said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for he has visited and redeemed his people”.  The word redeemed means to purchase or to ransom.  Zechariah was knowledgeable of the Old Testament and he understood how God has redeemed his people.  Chronologically speaking, Zechariah understood how God elected Noah and his family to be redeemed from the global flood; God used Moses to redeem Israel from the hands of Egypt; and God used Cyrus to redeem Israel from the hands of the Babylonians.

And God has provided redemption through Jesus Christ by raising “up a horn of salvation.”  The horn represents power and strength; therefore, a “horn of salvation” is a metaphor that speaks of Christ Jesus being a Mighty Savior.  Every year countries like Spain host the running of the bulls’ festival.  At this festival people place themselves in front of sharp pointed horned bulls and people dodge the bulls for obvious reasons, unless they want to be gored to death, as they run down a narrow street.  How many of you would stand in front of a raging bull?  We would flee if any horned beast charged towards us.  Jesus is like a beast with horns who has mightily provided salvation to those whom he died for.  God said the prophet Ezekiel, “On that day I will cause a horn to spring up for the house of Israel”.  Again, in Psalm 132:17 says, “There I will make a horn to sprout for David.”

Zechariah would have known that Mary was pregnant with the Messiah, Jesus because she was six months pregnant when she visited Elizabeth and Zechariah and stayed with them for three months (Luke 1:56).  So, Zechariah knew that Mary was a descendant of David, therefore, he understood that birth of his son, John the Baptist, signified that the culmination of salvation was dawning. He knew that John was a knowledgeable man that understood

The Lord God made an everlasting covenant with David of which Zechariah prophesied about.  In 2 Samuel 7:12-16, Nathan the prophet said to David:

When your days are fulfilled, and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  I will be a father, and he shall be to me a son.  When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.  And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.  Your throne shall be established forever (2 Samuel 7:12-16).

…and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33).

In the year of 1948 Israel fought against Syria, Egypt and Iraq to secure their liberation and to declare independence as a country.  As we all know, the state of Israel is settled between Islamic countries that considers Israel as an enemy.  Zechariah prophesy demonstrates that God will save the nation of Israel from every political tyranny and occupation. God’s in May 14, 1948 Israel, God has redeemed his people.

Dome of the Rock

The Millennial Kingdom of Christ

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal (Revelation 21:10-11).

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies (Psalm 18:2-3).

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