TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace."Luke 1:79(NASB)
After having been struck dumb for nine months because he doubted God's power to give him and his elderly wife, Elisabeth, a child – Zechariah's son, John, was born amidst much rejoicing and praise.
Zechariah was an elderly priest who was given a wonderful answer to prayer. In a vision from the Lord, he was told that his prayers had been answered and that his wife was to bear a son who was to come in the spirit and power of Elijah. The child's name was to be John and he would be the prophesied forerunner of the Israel's long-awaited Messiah.
Zechariah was told that his child would be a prophet of the most high God who was to prepare the way of the Lord. Despite being struck dumb throughout his wife's pregnancy because he initially doubted God's Word, the joy that flooded Zechariah's heart was soon being proclaimed in a beautiful psalm of praise which he sang at the child's birth.
He rejoiced because his child was to prepare the way for the promised Messiah, and he blessed the Lord God of Israel for visiting His people, as Scripture foretold. Zechariah's song of praise is often called 'the Benedictus' and its primary focus is about the coming Saviour Who would accomplish redemption for Israel. He was to be a descendant of the great king David, as foretold by prophets of old, and He would bring salvation to His people, Israel.
Zechariah quoted many Old Testament verses in his beautiful song of thanksgiving, which pointed to the Lord Jesus Who would bring salvation to Israel, deliverance from their enemies, and freedom from the hands of all who hated them.
He rejoiced that God remembered His holy covenant with Israel and gave thanks that the Lord had not forgotten the oath which He swore to his forefather, Abraham, that He Himself would rescue His people from the hand of their enemies and that they would serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness, all the days of their life.
Zechariah proclaimed that the One to come would give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He was to be the One Who would guide their feet into the way of peace. From the fall of Adam, the world had been plunged into thick darkness and man was imputed with a sinful nature. Since sin entered the world, the whole creation had been placed under the curse of God, and mankind was enslaved by the evil power of the prince of darkness.
Because of Adam's sin in the garden, the whole of humanity was condemned by God and has been trapped in a deep state of darkness and ensnared under the terrible shadow of death ever since. But in his Benedictus, Zechariah likened the coming of Christ to the rising of the sun.
Zechariah, the old priest of Israel who received a vision from the Lord during his priestly duties in the Temple, recognised that God was about to fulfil His promise to His people. He was about to send the prophesied Messiah of Israel Whom he called 'the Dayspring from on High' Who would bring salvation to all who are called by His name. And by God's grace, his own son, John, had been chosen to be forerunner to the Messiah. John was to prepare the way of the LORD, and make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and the lessons that I can learn from its pages. Thank You that You are a God Who keeps His promises and never fails to complete the good work that You have started in each of our lives. Help me to trust You in all things, even when circumstances seem to scream the opposite. Keep me looking to Jesus and walking in the light of His salvation. Thank You that You are my joy and rejoicing, and that by Christ's death and Resurrection, the power of sin and death has been broken in my life. Keep me trusting You to guide my feet into the way of peace. In Jesus' name, AMEN.