Zechariah Prophesies Over the Infant John
Open Your Bible
“And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied…” (Luke 1:67).
I don’t know about you, but when I hear of “prophesying,” I immediately think of the future—telling the future, knowing the future, shaping the future. And while that is certainly a part of it, as we can see from Zechariah’s words, a big part of prophecy is found in reminding God’s people of His faithfulness and the ways He’s spoken to them in the past.
The entire first half of Zechariah’s statement in Luke 1:67-79 is meant to call the audience’s attention to the consistent closeness and faithfulness of God. God has provided a “horn of salvation” in the house of David. He “spoke by the mouth of the holy prophets from of old.” He’s delivered Israel from their enemies, and He has sworn an oath and a covenant through Abraham.
Before he even begins to prophesy about the significant life and ministry of John the Baptist, Zechariah dedicates time to remembering, in big brush strokes, all that God has done to speak and enact faithfulness.
It is no coincidence that much of the focus of redemption history has to do with the speech of Yahweh, who ultimately came to earth as “the Word” (John 1:14). It might seem odd to us that the Israelites were so excited about encountering “the God who speaks,” but when we compare their spiritual experience to that of their neighbors, it is actually quite remarkable. Many ancient religions were predicated on a formula that went something like this: “The gods are angry; we’re not entirely sure what the gods want; we need to sacrifice various things and uphold various rituals to get the blessing we need from the gods.”
The God of Israel, our God, was different. He spoke to the people, He made Himself known to the people, and ultimately, He dwelt among the people in the person of Jesus.
We serve a God who speaks! We aren’t left guessing what He wants from us. He has spoken clearly and prophetically through the life of Jesus, concerning what He wants to give to us. The message of Christmas is that of the God who whispered encouragement and proclaimed salvation over and over and over again to His people.
Jesus was and is the culmination of prophetic history, a history in which God is ever present and speaking to His people. Jesus solidified that relationship permanently and irrevocably.
Perhaps you need a prophetic message this season, but not the one you’ve been expecting. The holidays can raise all sorts of questions about the future—your career, your family, your passions. As you look for answers, consider pausing to look back instead of peer ahead. In the midst of worry, stress, or pain, that can seem counterintuitive.
Know this: When your faith is in Christ, you have access to the God who created the cosmos. You have intimacy with the God that freed His people from slavery. You have relationship with the God who walked through the wilderness. And you have companionship in the God who chose to enter the grit and daily grind.
We may not have all the answers for the immediate future, but we do know what God has said and done in the past. Celebrate that prophetic past this Advent season, for those words and actions give us great hope for the long arc of redemption which is our future in Christ.
Written By Andrew Stoddard