Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Advent Words: M is for Mercy

M is for Mercy

Zechariah's Song:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David
(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us—
to show mercy to our ancestors
    and to remember his holy covenant,
    the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
    and to enable us to serve him without fear
    in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
    through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Luke 1:67-79
Zechariah is the father of John the Baptist. Scripture tells us that he was a priest and descendant of Aaron, that he was elderly, and that he and his wife, Elizabeth, had been unable to have children. One day Zechariah was lighting incense in the temple when an angel of the Lord appeared. The angel told him that Elizabeth would be pregnant and bear a son, who they were to name John. This son would be "great in the sight of the Lord" (Luke 1:1:15)  and he be used by God. Scripture says of him:

"He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”         Luke 1:16-17

Zechariah had a hard time believing the angel, and because of his unbelief the angel told him he would be silent and unable to speak. He remained silent until the day of the birth of his son John. We are told by Luke that Zechariah was then "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Luke 1:67) and his first words after months of silence were to sing the words of that which sis known as Zechariah's song in Luke 1:68-79.

The angel of the Lord had spoken to Elizabeth as well, and they knew that Mary carried the the son of God, they knew their son's role would be to prepare the people for the Lord's coming. In his joy at the birth of his son, Zechariah praised God for the mercy He had shown them ~ not only mercy for them personally in bearing a child, but mercy for God's people as well, in sending the Savior.

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,

    because he has come to his people and redeemed them."

This Savior is the One who would bring salvation. The One who had been promised from the kingly line of David. The One who would fulfill the promise made to Abraham that all the nations on earth would be blessed. The One who would rescue God's people from bondage and fear. The One who would enable God's people to serve Him "in holiness and righteousness".

Zechariah's son John would be used by God, "And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High". The prophet of the Most High would prepare the people for the Son of the Most High. John would make clear to the people that God's mercy had come to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. "Because of the tender mercy of our God" salvation has come! Light has come! Peace has come!

Zechariah's song gives us the story of God's mercy to His people in the gift of His Son.

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If you belong to the Everyday Journal group that I co-lead with Valerie Sjodin and Bernice Hopper, Advent Words will be our theme for December.

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Check out my Pinterest board for this challenge and see some of the wonderful and diverse creativity of Advent Words 2018 participants.

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