Wednesday- Week 3
Updated: Dec 19, 2019
The Benedictus (Zechariah’s Song)
Zechariah the priest with scroll showing words of the
Benedictus (18th century);
Unknown Russian Author; Iconostasis of Kizhi Monastery
67His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because He has come to His people and redeemed them.
69He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of His servant David
70(as He said through His holy prophets of long ago),
71salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember His holy covenant,
73the oath He swore to our father Abraham:
74to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve Him without fear
75in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
76And 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,
77to give His people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Zechariah's Song has two parts:
I. Thanksgiving for Salvation (v. 68-75) &
II. Thanksgiving for his son John (v. 76-79)
I. Thanksgiving for Salvation
Focused on the anticipation of the deliverance of Israel by the Saviour
What does Zechariah praise God for in v. 68?
[For coming to His people and for redeeming them.]
In scripture a horn is a symbol for strength and power. In Biblical times, animals with large horns were mighty (rams, elk, etc.).
Who is Zechariah referring to in verse 69? What is the significance of this ‘horn’ being raised up in the ‘House of His servant David’?
[Jesus. Zechariah is aware of Mary and David’s royal lineage and recognizes the fulfillment of prophecy in Jesus’ coming birth (2 Samuel 7:9-16).]
What covenant is Zechariah referring to in vv. 72-73?
[Abrahamic Covenant (see Saturday- Week 1 )]
II. Thanksgiving for his son John
Focused on how John's mission fulfills the promises of God to provide salvation for all.
In verses 76-77, Zechariah recognizes John’s purpose and mission in life. What is it?
[To ‘prepare the way,’ and tell people how to gain salvation through forgiveness of their sins (ie, lead them to repentance). Thus, he recognized the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3 in his son’s birth (see Friday- Week 2).]
Verse 78a, refers to the previous verse (77); what attribute of God does Zechariah say leads to salvation? [Read Romans 2:4 NLT]
[God’s tender mercy (i.e., His kindness)]
Verse 78b refers to the Messiah as ‘the rising sun from heaven.’ This is a reference to an Old Testament prophecy of Messiah in Malachi 4:2.
According to v. 79, what effect would the ‘sun’ have on people?
[He would disperse the darkness, defeat death and light our path (see Isaiah 9:2).]
For Further Discussion
What are some ways that you can (or have) prepare(d) the way for others to know Christ?
[You can prepare the way by giving to and praying for missions organizations.* You can also prepare the way by sharing the truth of Christ- why He came to earth-- with friends and neighbors. And, most importantly, you can share by the way you live.]
What are some ways that you or other Christians have hindered the way for others to Christ?
Mark Twain felt that Christians were the worst part of Christianity. As Christ followers, we need to be aware of how others who do not share our faith see us. If we think our 'witness' is about how other Christians see us, we don't understand what Christian witness really means.
If we believe that the negative views that non-Christians have of us 'just proves' that we are doing things the way Christ would, we should probably re-evaluate what Christ actually did. Jesus was very popular with the 'sinners' (Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:29-32) and put to death by the 'righteous' ones of His day.
What are ways as Christians, that we can truly be a witness to those outside the faith?
[Answers vary, but consider this:
Jesus did not hang out with the church crowd. He did not 'fit in' with the 'religious right.' He broke the rules of religious society (Mark 2:23-24; Luke 11:37-41; Luke 7:37-39; Luke 7:34). He was seen in public conversing with people of different racial and cultural orientations than Himself (the Syrophoenician woman, the Samaritan woman , the Roman centurion).
Jesus ate and drank at the homes of people who would not be considered 'church goers.' He did not care about 'ruining His witness' by surrounding Himself with non-church people (or people that would not be welcomed in a 'church' group). The religious leaders often admonished Him for encouraging His entourage to violate religious traditions and rules (Matthew 12:1-2; Mark 7:1-2)
In Matthew 23:15, it says “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are." Jesus warns against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. How can Christians avoid the type of hypocrisy and pridefulness that Jesus addresses in the above passage?
How does your church do missions work? Read 10 Steps for Doing Short Term Missions Trips Well by Ugandan missionary Sarita Hartz
Does their missions look more like white savior work or Christ empowering work?
[In her blog post 4 Ways to Avoid the White Savior Complex in Missions, Sarita provides excellent guidelines for how to honor God with missions work and thus avoid the pride and hypocrisy of the Pharisees.]
Close in Prayer
Pray that you will not be a stumbling block-- creating barriers to those around you from coming to the Savior. Pray that you would be a conduit for His love and grace to everyone around you.
Make a Joyful Sound!
Choose a song from Songs for Advent Week 3 or choose your own.
*Some excellent ones: International Justice Mission, Compassion International, World Vision