Monday, December 5, 2022

Advent Words ~ Word 5: Salvation


Word 5: Salvation


    "How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
    who bring good tidings,
    who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
    “Your God reigns!”
Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices;
    together they shout for joy.
When the Lord returns to Zion,
    they will see it with their own eyes.
Burst into songs of joy together,
    you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people,
    he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord will lay bare his holy arm
    in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth will see
    the salvation of our God." 
Isaiah 52:7-10

Through Isaiah God promised a messenger would come before the promised Messiah and bring the good news of his arrival to the people. He would come proclaiming peace and salvation.

In our last post we saw that Zechariah is the father of John the Baptist, who was the messenger sent to prepare the way before the Lord. His story begins in Luke 1:5-25. Scripture tells us that Zechariah 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 1:15) 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. 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 his song in Luke 1:68-79. 

The angel of the Lord had spoken to Elizabeth as well, and she and Zechariah knew that Mary carried 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. 

Luke 1:67-79 is known as Zechariah's song:

"His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

“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.”

This Savior is the One sent by God to 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.

Ephesians 2:4-5 show us that this gift of God’s mercy is prompted by His love.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 

Our sin keeps us far from God, dead to Him. But God does punish us as we deserve, rather, in mercy, out of love for us, He makes us alive again through Christ, our Savior. This is our salvation, and this is God's mercy and love.

Yesterday we lit the candle of peace, which is the theme for the second week of Advent.

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