Guide Our Way

I’m sure by now most of you have recognized but the gospel and the Psalm are the same or similar because they are both a gospel and a Psalm or song. What about told you over and over and over about context you cannot claim the Bible if you cannot put into context. It’s very hard sometimes to get at that context and open it up so that everyone can see it because if I can’t make this come alive for you if I can’t get you to understand the context of the situation then I’m failing to bring the word you. So, let’s go back to the beginning. if you recall both Mary and Elizabeth were pregnant at the same time even though Elizabeth was much older and despaired of ever having a child but Elizabeth husband was “Zechariah and he was a temple priest and as was the custom at the time they would choose lost to see who would offer the Lord incense and it fell to Zechariah and he prayed to God and an angel appeared and told Zechariah his prayers had been answered. The angel told him everything from his name to what he was to be permitted to do. John was to be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth. Zechariah new everything and still “Zechariah said to the Angel how will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years”.

Priest he might be, but he definitely was not going to win any awards for brains. So, the Angel replied “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news but now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute unable to speak until the day these things occur.” Note to self, do not make Gabriel mad. To finally answer the question of why it’s both a Gospel and a Song is because it is found in a gospel, but it is called the Song of Zechariah or Zechariah’s Prophecy. “His song is called the Benedictus, based on the first word that came from his lips: “Praise be to the Lord” (1:68, italics added). Zechariah believed that the Messiah was about to emerge, that God had come and redeemed his people, and that his son was going to prepare the way. The redemption of Israel would be made possible because God had raised up a horn of salvation (1:69).” I know in none of our readings does this say the “horn of Salvation” that’s why the NRSV is not always the best translation. In the King James version, you know the one that the disciples used. Verse 68 and 69 reads ”Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for he has visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of Salvation for us in the house of his servant David” You see when we change things even if it is for greater clarity it can lose it’s true meaning. “This is the only place in the New Testament where Jesus is referred to as the “horn of salvation.” The instruction from God for the construction of the altar in the Temple where the atonement for the sins of the people was to be made called for a horn at each of the four corners (Ex. 27:1–2). Blood was applied to the horns of the altars for atonement (Ex. 30:10). Adonijah, in fear of Solomon, fled to the altar and hung on to the horns as a place for refuge and salvation (1 Kings 1:50–53). Upon deliverance from his enemies, David sang, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge, and my savior …” (2 Sam. 22:2–3, italics added). Zechariah was inspired to proclaim Jesus to be the one to whom humankind could flee for refuge—the one who would become the atonement for sin—the one who would become salvation for us and (Luke 1:69) the strength of our life.”

(Ps. 28:7–8) “The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in him, and I am helped: Therefore, my heart greatly rejoiceth; And with my song will I praise him. The LORD is their strength, And he is the saving strength of his anointed”. “Zechariah’s words must be understood as the result of the Holy Spirit’s coming upon him. They are words of prophecy, words which express God’s revelation. The horn was a symbol of strength (as with the horn of a bull), so that a horn of salvation means ‘a mighty salvation’ or ‘a strong savior’ The reference to the house of his servant David shows that Zechariah is singing about the Messiah. The salvation the Messiah will bring is spoken of first as deliverance (71), then as mercy to the fathers and then in terms of the covenant. Now, there are several covenants in the Old Testament, but that with Abraham stands out. The oath was a significant part of any covenant, and here it is emphasized. God will not go back on what he has sworn. The covenant with Abraham will be brought to its consummation. Zechariah first words in nine months are not about his little boy but the Messiah whom God was about to send. That doesn’t mean Zechariah didn’t care about John rather in verse 76 he points out that he will be called the prophet of the Most High. There had been no prophet among the Jews for centuries, so those were fighting words, not exactly something that the people of the time would take calmly. John would represent a radical departure from what had become customary. And not only was he to be a prophet, but he was to prepare the Lord’s way. He would be forerunner to the Messiah. Specifically, he would tell people about the coming of salvation in the forgiveness of their sins. John would not save people. No man could. But he would call people to repentance and tell them about One who could save them. Our coming salvation will be through God’s tender mercy. The compassion of God is a constant theme of the New Testament. Zechariah goes on to speak of salvation as light “the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace”.”We opened with the prophecy Zechariah and one more time I want close with the coming of our Lord the Messiah but not as a guide for future generations but as the fulfillment of that prophecy as the coming conqueror and eternal ruler of both heaven and earth. “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel. The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Amen!

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