The response of God’s people to deliverance is praise. After the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, Miriam led the people in dance and song, at the heart of Scripture are the Psalms – a whole book of songs, some lamenting, some interceding but many telling the story of God’s saving acts. So it should be no surprise when we get to Luke 1 to find Mary and Zechariah, the two people visited by God with good news bursting into song.
Zechariah’s song is found in Luke 1:68-79. I’d like to highlight some of the themes here. First of all, notice that this is a prophecy (v67) much of the OT prophetic literature appears to have been originally set out poetically, and likely to have been sung.
The big theme here is that God has kept his promise made through countless prophets. This goes all the way back to Genesis and to the oath God swore to Abraham. God is faithful and his word is reliable.
The nature of God’s promise was deliverance. God promised protection and rescue from enemies. I believe this is captured in seed form in Genesis 3:15, God’s people, Eve’s descendants would face a deadly enemy but God would send one to crush the enemy. Notice that the purpose of God’s deliverance is so that his people can serve him. Spot too that this service is without fear. To be able to serve and obey God is a good and pleasant thing. Jesus declares that his burden is light. On a side note, if our churches are fear driven because leaders rely on bullying tactics to get their way, then something has gone badly wrong.
The focus of Zechariah’s song is the baby and so he prophecies that this child will continue in the prophetic line. He will go ahead of the Lord. Notice here that this is a not too subtle hint of Christ’s divine nature. This prophet has good news, God’s salvation is coming. Notice too the link to forgiveness of sins. By the way, I don’t think that this means Zechariah would necessarily have clicked that there was a spiritual mission at work rather than a political one. I’m sure he would have in his own mind the idea that this work of deliverance meant the defeat of the occupying Roman forces. However, I want you to get a feel for how much this political deliverance was wrapped up in forgiveness. Occupation and/or exile was a consequence of sin and rebellion, so you would expect forgiveness to involve removal of that burden. This is a point we will pick up on some other time.
Finally notice that he speaks of the tenderness of God. Zechariah is a man who has grasped that God is good, that God is love, that God is kind. And so, the good God brings light and life.
Why not stop and take time today to praise God? Maybe you could use the words of Zechariah’s prayer or you could choose a song to sing. Be thankful because God has stepped into history in the person of Jesus to bring light, life and forgiveness. Resolve to tell others of this good news today.