The Blessing Spoken by Zacharias
By Al Stoner
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, after an extended period of silence, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people.” This is a blessing that appears frequently in Scripture. (Gen. 9:26; Gen. 24:27; Exod. 18:10; Ruth 4:14; I Sam. 25:32; I Sam. 25:39; II Sam. 18:28; I Kgs. 1:48; II Kgs. 5:7; I Kgs. 8:15; I Kgs. 8:56; I Kgs. 10:9; I Chr. 16:36; II Chr. 2:12; II Chr. 6:4; II Chr. 9:8; Ezra 7:27; Ps. 28:6; Ps. 31:21; Ps. 41:13; Ps. 68:19; Ps. 72:18; Ps. 89:52; Ps. 106:48; Ps. 124:6; Ps. 135:21; Ps. 144:1; Zech. 11:5; Lk. 1:68).
This was an expression spoken frequently by the godly, beginning with Noah blessing Shem (Gen. 9:26). This word is an acknowledgment of God's work, His help, and His favorable intervention in men's behalf. But even more than this, this word is an acknowledgment that men are pleased with God's working, and also that God the Father is pleased with Christ's sufferings in our behalf and with His exaltation to His own right hand in the heavenly places.
Paul wrote to Timothy of "the glorious gospel of the blessed God" (I Tim. 1:11). God is declared to be "blessed", or happy, or satisfied, or well-pleased. And this is particularly so now that sins have been put away by the Lord Jesus Christ. His good pleasure and satisfaction with regard to His beloved Son are things that make the world to come a place that is greatly to be desired by those who are living by faith in the Son of God.
He hath visited and redeemed His people. This would be and was a visitation that would eclipse and dwarf all previous visitations, as precious and significant as each one of them were.
Prior Visitations. Prior visitations, such as God's appearances unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and also to Moses, and the deliverance of Israel from the land of Egypt, and the help which He afforded to David and other of the Prophets were but the foreshadowing of a far greater and more climactic visitation which was yet to come.
Each of the prior visitations came and passed with the passing of time. Each of them were, so to speak, an event that was experienced for a short time, and then was kept in possession by the faculty of memory. Each of them were very memorable to be sure, and the memory of them would prove to be invaluable to those who were living by faith.
But the visitation that Zacharias was given to speak about was exceeding broad in scope. It was a visitation that would be "for all people" and its duration for all time. The benefits of this visitation would be age-lasting and extend into the eternal ages to come. By this visitation God would be undoing everything that the entrance of sin into the world had done. By this visitation God would destroy the works of the Devil.
This visitation would come from the Lord Jehovah through one Man, the Man Christ Jesus. The benefits were accomplished by Him, secured by Him, and reserved for Him. This would be the Man which the Prophets, for millennia of time, had enquired and spoken about.
Abraham and Isaac digged wells to provide water for themselves and their servants, but Jesus has opened a fountain in Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness. David slew Goliath of Gath, but Jesus destroyed the works of the Devil, and spoiled evil principalities and powers. Joshua led the people into the land of Canaan, but Jesus is bringing many sons unto glory. Joshua defeated and slew several of the Canaanite kings, but Jesus bruised the head of the old serpent, the archenemy of our race, and of our souls.
Solomon was the wisest man of his day, but the Lord Jesus Christ has been, of God, made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (I Cor. 1:30). Hezekiah put away the high places of his day, but Jesus put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. The fit man in Leviticus led away the live goat into a land of forgetfulness, but the Lamb of God has taken away the sins of the world. He has cast them into the sea of God's forgetfulness, He has cast them behind God's back where He sees them no more.
A Horn of Salvation. "And" He "hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David". The "horn" spoken of here is an expression denoting great power and great protection. Horns are protrusions on cloven-footed four-footed animals that are employed for both offence and defence. They are used to fight and to protect from being harmed by enemies.
Such is this horn of salvation that God Himself has raised up. This horn is embodied in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Lord our Righteousness. He is the Covert from the tempest and storm. He Himself is the Hiding Place from the wind. He is the great Rock that is in a weary land. (He Himself is no longer weary, but He knows firsthandedly what weariness is. He was tempted in all point, like as we are, yet without sin.) The Lord Jesus Himself is the place of Munitions of rocks and the High Tower. He Himself is the walls and bulwarks of salvation.
God's Holy Prophets and Their Ministry. "As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began". God sent the holy Prophets, not to school men about righteousness in general, but rather to declare unto men the Nature and Character of the Holy One, and to announce, even the earliest times, that God would be sending a Redeemer that would put away sin, and that would bruise the serpent's head.
When the Prophets prophesied, they were making men conscious of the God that had first claim upon them because He made them for Himself, and of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that has followed. These sufferings would be endured because of men's sins, and the glory would be glory that believing men would share in.
The sufferings of Christ, and the glory that has followed has become the proclamation and rallying-point of God's redeemed sons and daughters. What appeared to be the most gruesome execution at the hands of wicked men has become the joy and rejoicing of godly men. In the proclamation of the Cross of Christ, men are given to see their sins taken away, and their being made accepted of God in the Beloved. The preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God.
Saved from the Hand of our Enemies. "That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us". This is part of the oath that God swore to Abraham. One of the things that God promised to Abraham after that he offered up Isaac was, "Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies" (Gen. 22:17; the promise was spoken again by Laban with regard to Rebekah, cf. 24:60). A gate, in those ancient cities, was the only place of going out and of coming in. To possess the gate of one's enemies is to be granted a superior status to the enemies. It is to be granted charge, and in a sense, custody of the enemies, until an appointed time.
In a very practical application, as new creatures in Christ Jesus, men have been given to possess the gate of the enemies of their souls. There are things inside of them that they mortify and don't permit to exit the gate. And their are things outside of them that they do not permit to enter. We are speaking here of self-preservation. He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
The Performance of Promised Mercy. "To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant; The oath which He sware to our father Abraham,"
The performance of the mercy spoken of here was to come at a set time, a time appointed by the Father. Remembering His holy covenant is language that is very instructive to us about the manner of God's working. It instructs us that God works according to His eternal purpose and His own good pleasure. It instructs us of a working that is sure and unchangeable. But, from men's perspective, it involves a time of waiting, a time of the trying of the heart, and perhaps, even a time, when it seems like God has forgotten. "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee" (Isa. 49:15).
Delivered from the Hand of our Enemies. "That He would grant us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear." In Christ Jesus, we have been delivered, we are being delivered, and we at last shall be delivered in every sense of the word. We have been made free from sin, delivered from the power of darkness, translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son, we have been washed, justified, sanctified in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. We have been delivered from the wrath to come. We have been saved from wrath.
"In holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life." This something that new creatures in Christ now are able to relate to by their faith. Much more, this is something that is now yearned for and longed for. These are things that are possessed now in a first-fruits measure, as we have been given the first-fruits of the Spirit. In addition, these yearnings after righteousness and true holiness are things that are possessed amidst conflicting passions and desires coming from the old man.
Let us give ever give thanks to our Heavenly Father for the blessed provision that He has made in our behalf through His beloved Son!