Vol. 18, No. 5 – February 3, 2019
b. Praise to God for Keeping His Promise to Abraham, (the Abrahamic Covenant), vs. 72-75.
Luke 1:72, “To show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant.”
“To show,” is the Verb PIOEO once again, see vs. 68, “accomplished.” Basically, it means, “to make or do.” Here, it means, “perform or fulfill,” with a view to already being accomplished with the Aorist, Active, Infinitive. The Infinitive gives us purpose. This is the first of three purposes found in vs. 72, 74, as to why God provided salvation.
1. The first purpose was to perform “mercy,” ELEOS, towards “our fathers,” PATER. Again, the simple past tense Aorist views this from God’s perspective of being completed from eternity past.
2. The second purpose was for God to “remember,” MNAOMAI, cf. vs. 54, “In remembrance of His mercy.” The thing remembered here is God’s “Holy Covenant,” HAGIOS DIATHEKE. The Greek Noun DIATHEKE, διαθήκη means, “last will and testament, covenant, will, contract, or disposition.” Given its positioning in these passages, it encompasses both the Davidic and Abrahamic covenants God made with them, cf. Acts 2:30; 7:17, but specifically the one He made to Abraham, as noted by the next verse. The Abrahamic Covenant came first, Gen 22:16-18; 105:8-9, 42; 106:45, and was enhanced by the Davidic.
“Holy,” HAGIOS, “holy, consecrated, perfect, upright,” is the insurance, guardian, or guarantee of God’s promises. His holy character demands that He keeps or fulfills His promises / covenants.
Luke 1:73, “The oath which He swore to Abraham our father.”
“Oath,” is the Noun HORKO and “swore,” is the Verb OMNUO, ὀμνύω that means, “swear, make or take an oath, or confirm by an oath.” These are in parallelism with “covenant.”
The one God swore this oath to was “Abraham,” ABRAAM, Ἀβραάμ indicating the Abrahamic covenant, Gen 22:16-18, who is “our father,” HEMEIS PATER, indicating the Jewish people in general, including Zachariah and the ones around him at this time, i.e., his neighbors and relatives. Yet, Abraham is the spiritual father of all who believe, both Jew and Gentile, Luke 3:8; John 8:39; Rom 4:12; James 2:21.
Heb 6:13, “For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself.”
Therefore, Zachariah is praising God for keeping His word and fulfilling the Abrahamic Covenant through the Redeemer, Savior Jesus Christ.
Luke 1:74, “To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear.”
3. The third purpose was for God to “grant us rescue / refuge from our enemies.” This goes back to vs. 71, in the chiasm. “To grant,” the third Aorist, Active, Infinitive of Purpose, this time of the Verb DIDOMAI, “to give,” in the sense of fulfilling His Covenant promises by “rescuing” Israel from her “enemies,” ECHTHROS. Though using political language, our greatest enemy is sin which is from Satan and his cosmic system. In Jesus’ First Advent, we are rescued from our enemy – sin. In His Second Advent, we will be rescued from Satan’s cosmic system – world governments.
“Rescued,” is the Aorist, Passive, Participle of the Verb RHUOMAI, ῥύομαι that means, “save, rescue, deliver, set free or redeem.” It is synonymous to LUTROO. Matthew uses it in Mat 27:43, for the mocking cries of the onlookers of the Crucifixion: “He (Jesus) trusts in God. Let God rescue Him now.” What these scoffers did not realize was that the Father was going to deliver Him from the grave and death itself. Their own words, although not verbatim, is a citation of the Septuagint that echoes Psa 22, and especially vs. 8, the psalm Jesus cited on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” vs. 1.
Psa 22:8, “Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver Him; Let Him rescue Him, because He delights in Him.”
In our passage, Zachariah uses language reminiscent of the OT, cf. 2 Sam 22:18; Psa 31:15; Joshua 22:31; Judges 6:9, regarding the fulfillment of the Messianic promises. The Messiah would bring salvation to His people, deliverance for those seeking His mercy.
Then, the result of Jesus’ deliverance was so that Israel “might serve Him (God the Father).” “Serve,” is the Present, Active, Infinitive of Result of the Verb LATREUO, λατρεύω that means, “serve or worship.” It means to perform the work or service of a servant or slave in religious service to God the Father. While
LATREUO has its background in the OT ritual worship service of the temple, its use broadens in the NT to include service to God in prayer and worship, e.g., Mat 4:10; Luke 2:37; 4:8; Rev 22:3; 7:15. Therefore, it signifies religious service distinctively, the priesthood of the NT.
This service will be done “without fear,” the Adverb APHOBOS that means, “fearless, without fear, or boldly.” It is only used here and in 1 Cor 16:10; Phil 1:14; Jude 1:12. It is used to speak boldly without fear the Word of God, including the gospel of Jesus Christ, except in Jude 1:12, where it reflects false teachers of the word. From this context, it means to preach the Word of God in the face of antagonism towards it. Zachariah is remembering Israel’s first objective, to preach the Word, and that is what God’s wants us all to do without fear. Therefore, the result of this deliverance is the complete freedom to worship God in absolute confidence in Him, as we exercise our Royal Priesthood and Royal Ambassadorship.
Luke 1:75, “In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.”
This passage alludes to the “how do we do this,” It speaks to our Positional Sanctification that gives us boldness to preach and serve without fear in the face of opposition, as we walk in our Experiential Sanctification of holiness and righteousness. Therefore, the nature and quality of this service in worship is now elaborated.
“Holiness,” is not the typical HAGIOS, but HOSIOTES, that means, “holiness, piety, uprightness, devoutness, or sanctity.” It is related more to the keeping of the ordinances (experiential sanctification) than the character of life (positional sanctification). This is the faithfulness aspect of the believer’s life. It is only used here and in Eph 4:24, in the NT.
Eph 4:24, “And put on (Experiential Sanctification) the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created (Positional Sanctification) in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
God promised Solomon that He would, “Establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel forever,” 1 Kings 9:5, if Solomon would live with, “integrity of heart, and in uprightness,” vs. 4.
It is linked here and in Eph 4:24, with the commonly used word, “righteousness,” DIKAIOSUNE that means, “righteousness, justice, or uprightness.” Righteousness, simply stated, is the fulfillment of God’s will in actions that are pleasing to Him. This is the virtue aspect of the believer’s life, the practical righteousness of everyday living and conduct.
Both of these words can mean our position before God in Positional Sanctification. But, the context of this passage and others, means that it is in the service and worship of God, which means the experiential aspect of our worship and service of God; our Experiential Sanc-tification.
“Before Him,” is ENOPION AUTOS. ENOPION is a Preposition that means, “before, in the sight of, or in the presence of.” This shows our position in Christ and our relationship with God the Father, cf. Gabriel in vs. 19, and the description of John the Baptist in relation to Jesus Christ as “going before Him,” vs. 17, 76, as he, Zachariah, and Elizabeth all had a wonderful relationship with God being His children, vs. 6, 15, walking holy, blameless, and righteously before God. Such a life is the consequence of the new birth.
Therefore, because God has fulfilled His covenant promises to Abraham and David, by sending a Savior to redeem us from the slave market of sin, we are able to serve God freely and without fear in the face of our enemies in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our lives.
c. Praise to God for keeping His promise to Zachariah, in giving him a son to be the forerunner to the Messiah, vs. 76-77.
Luke 1:76, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS.”
In the Greek, this begins with KAI SU DE, “and you also,” now pointing to Zachariah’s “child,” PAIDON. This child “will be called,” the Future, Passive, Indicative of KALEO, “the prophet,” PROPHETES also used in vs. 70, “of the Most High,” HUPSISTOS also used in vs. 32, 35, for God the Father.
What a privilege this was for Zachariah. What a privilege it was for John! In fact, the Lord Jesus would later say in Luke 7:28, “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
John was the greatest and last of the OT prophets. His ministry was to usher in a new Dispensation, the Age of Grace, a.k.a., the Church Age, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. John had the great privilege to announce the coming of the One who would “make the crooked paths straight and bring the salvation of God,” Luke 3:5-6. But, the Church Age believer has a special union with Christ and spiritual relationship with the Father that OT saints, such as John, did not have. Because of our union with Jesus Christ, being His body and bride, Church Age believers are “greater.” Also, note Luke 7:28 says, “born of women,” that is earthly speech. Yet, the believer is born of God, spiritually. Therefore, as great as John was among humans, the believer, Old and New Testament, are greater spiritually than John’s earthly. But remember, John too had a spiritual birth in the Dispensation of Israel and his spiritual is greater than his physical.
We can only imagine Zachariah’s great joy at this point, as he focuses his eyes on the little baby boy in his arms and declares that he will be a great prophet to usher in the Messiah. There had not been a prophet for Israel in over four centuries. Now, his son would be a great and unique one, as he will be the forerunner. “He will soften the ground. He will till the soil of Israel’s heart. He will not be the Savior, but John will make things ready for the Savior by teaching people how they are to be saved. John will be a giant index finger pointing the way to God’s salvation from sin.” (Christ-Centered Exposition.)
Then, we see something of John’s ministry, “you shall go,” is the Future, Middle Deponent, Indicative of the Verb PROPOREUOMAI, προπορεύομαι that means, “go before, precede.” It comes from the Preposition PRO, “before,” and the Verb POREUOMAI, “to go, depart, travel, walk, etc.”
With this, we have a double emphasis using the Preposition ENOPION, ἐνώπιον that means, “before, in the sight of, or in the presence of.” It is used quite extensively by Luke, Paul, and John, cf. vs. 6, 15, 17, 19, 75. Therefore, he was to “go before in the presence of.”
PROPOREUOMAI is only used here and in Acts 7:40, in the NT. There, it is used of Israel who desired to “make false gods to go before” them, instead of waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain. Given the context in both passages, the word means more than just going before; it connotes preparing the way for someone who is to come, and that someone is God. So, we see the deity of Jesus Christ in view as the God/man, who would come to bring redemption and salvation. That is also seen in this text as the word KURIOS for “the Lord,” comes next, which too speaks of the Deity of Jesus Christ. All of this is a double emphasis on John’s ministry and the Deity of Jesus Christ, showing the great privilege and responsibility John had.
Sometimes we tend to underrate the work of John the Baptist. We think of him simply as the one who came to prepare the way of the Lord, and we forget that he also presented a message of grace, a definite proclamation of the gospel. It was he who said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” John 1:29. Could you get a clearer gospel message than that anywhere? That is the gospel of the grace of God in all its simplicity. It was given to John to point the Savior out, not merely as the King of Israel, not merely as the One who was to fulfil the promises and reign in righteousness over all the world, but as the One who was to provide salvation for sinful men. It is only through Him that salvation comes.
Then we have something of what John would do, “prepare His ways,” HETOIMAZO AUTOS HODOS. It means that John would witness and evangelize prior to Christ beginning His ministry, so that the people would be prepared or ready to receive Him. This is in fulfillment of the prophesy given in Isa 40:3 and Mal 3:1, as John also stated in Luke 3:4, and of the Elijah figure foretold in Mal 4:5 and vs. 17, cf. Mat 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-13.
Isa 40:3, “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God’.”
Mal 3:1, “‘Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
Mal 4:5, “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.” Cf. Mat 11:1, 14; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27.
As Jesus stated in Mat 11:14-15, “And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 15He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Therefore, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s, Malachi’s, and Gabriel’s prophesy, vs 17, Zachariah now prophesied about his son.
Luke 1:77, “To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.”
John will “give,” the Aorist, Active, Infinitive of DIDOMI, “to his people,” LAOS AUTOS, “knowledge,” GNOSIS, “know-ledge, doctrine, wisdom,” “of salvation,” SOTERIA.
Israel had a false idea that the Messiah’s salvation would be from political evil. John was needed to tell them that it was from sin that God proposed to deliver them. This would not be theoretical knowledge, but personal knowledge of the inward experience of salvation as the result of God’s Divine gift. This phrase, “knowledge of salvation,” is unique in Scripture and Christianity. It implies the aspect of experience that would only be realized through the “forgiveness of sin.”
In this, John would bypass ritualistic religion and go right to the heart of spiritual life. Salvation that was earlier couched primarily in political terms, vs. 69-75, now takes on a spiritual quality.
This salvation is given, “by the forgiveness of their sins,” EN APHESIS AUTOS HAMARTIA.
“Forgiveness,” is the Noun APHESIS, ἄφεσις from the Verb APHIEMI. It means, “release, forgiveness, deliverance, suspension of punishment, pardoned, etc.” Its roots mean, “to send away.” It is actually a synonym of APOLUTROSIS, “release, redemption, deliverance,” of Luke 21:28.
Luke 21:28, “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Figuratively, it was used in the Classical Greek language as a technical legal term for “releasing” someone from a legal obligation, such as the forgiving of a debt, and means, “remittance or forgiveness.” In the Bible, the LXX of the OT and the NT, both the noun and the verb are used 45 times in regard to our sins. The KJV uses, “remission.”
Forgiveness is the principle component of the expression of God’s mercy. Forgiveness is the principle result of redemption. The basic expression of salvation brought through Jesus is forgiveness, which is the taking away of our load of guilt and giving us freedom to reach the potential God created in us.
Therefore, the two major themes of these praises, (Mary’s and Zachariah’s), is God’s mercy and redemption that are clearly in view here, and the next verse. And remember, the name John means, “God is merciful,” and Zachariah’s whole song celebrates God’s wonderful acts of mercy which spring from the fact that the essence of His being is mercy. Therefore, God’s mercy is demonstrated and fulfilled in forgiveness.
The thing forgiven is “our sins,” AUTOS HAMARTIA, ἁμαρτία that means “sin, sinful deed, or sinfulness.” This implies that God will treat the sinner as if he had not committed sin.
This too fulfills prophecy; that found in Jer 31:34, “‘They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more’.”
Of John it is stated in Luke 3:3, “And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
Luke shows that the key enemies are not other people, such as the Romans, but the devil and sin for which one needs forgiveness in order to find peace, vs. 79. Future “salvation” in Isaiah includes deliverance from political oppressors; but, as here, it is predicated upon Israel’s restoration to Divine favor through forgiveness of their sins.
Zachariah’s prophecy defines John’s life in relationship to Jesus’s life and mission. John’s task was a significant one in holy history: showing the Jewish people their need for salvation and directing the lost to the forgiveness of sins. John did not “prepare the way” by teaching that the true “salvation” was to be found in mere deliverance from the yoke of the Roman Empire. To the contrary, he taught that salvation was found in the “’forgiveness of sin.” He thus not only gave “knowledge of salvation” in the sense that he announced the fact that it would be given, but also in the sense that he clearly taught what it consisted of. John was not a preacher of revolt, as the turbulent and impure patriots of the day would have liked him to be, but of repentance. His work was to awaken the consciousness of sin and the need for a Savior, and so to kindle desires for a salvation which was deliverance from sin, the only yoke that truly enslaves.
Eph 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”
From this we also see that, all lasting meaning is found when we define our lives as John did his. Greatness comes from serving the Lord, not from serving ourselves. Greatness comes when we, like John, say, “We must decrease; Jesus must increase,” John 3:30. The prophet of salvation never replaces the bringer of salvation.
Acts 5:31, “He (Jesus) is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”
“When John baptized it was for remission of sins. His baptism was the recognition on the part of the people that they were sinners and deserved to die. As they went down into the waters of baptism they were saying as it were, “We ought to die for our sins.” But John told of One who was coming to pay the penalty for those sins, and the people believed the message, and so rejoiced in the knowledge of forgiveness.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary).
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#19-009 & 19-010
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!