A Very Jewish Christmas, Episode 3
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
—Luke 1:68 – 79
I have quoted above the words that Zacharias praised the Lord with prophesying, when he was praising while his son was born. Yet, is it not striking that these words of praise are about another, greater Child about to be born? “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
Again, these words uttered by the mouth of Zacharias, were words spoken as he was filled with the Holy Ghost. Notice, that that of which he speaks , when we look at the exact meaning of the words, is foreign to that which we most often think about when we come into this so-called “Gentile” holiday season. But this, much like Mary’s magnificat, as it is called, would not seem out of place in the Psalms, the so-called Hebrew Hymn Book. Why? Because all that Zacharias uttered here is exactly what the Old Testament, or Hebrew Scriptures speak that the coming of God’s Anointed would mean. Let us examine everything that Zacharias says here, as he speaks that even his own son John’s birth meant the coming of deliverance — to Israel:
Luke 1:68 — “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people…”
While this season is often one that is purposely ignored and overlooked by Israel in unbelief, the root reason of its celebration is that the Lord, Jehovah, the God of Israel, visited and redeemed His people. In this verse, and in most other references to “His people”, it is this people of Israel that is being spoken of. If only theologians and Bible teachers would realize and accept this, some really bad doctrines would go away, and some silly historical arguments would be answered.
Note also that as Zacharias says blessed be the Lord God of Israel, the apostle Paul when speaking to us in the dispensation of grace, shouts praise as “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”! While the very same Lord God is in view, the name and relation is much greater. We, as Gentiles, have no claim on the God of Israel, but by His grace, in saving us by the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, can know the Father because we are so close to Son. In fact, we are baptized into the Son by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13), so that we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. He will again be recognized one day in Israel, and that will be when He is recognized not only as the God of Israel, but as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the last chapter of Luke, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were grieving because they thought that this hope was lost:
Luke 24:21 — “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.”
Strangely enough, several years ago I heard a famous pastor of a very large mega-church in our area say that they were mistaken, because it was never promised that Christ would do any such thing. But this was indeed the Messianic hope throughout the Scriptures. It is as Zacharias would soon say “as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began”. The “allegorization” or “spiritualization”, or really better “this does not mean what it clearly says and we need to stop thinking that God means what He says” approach has the net result of making the Holy Spirit mistaken, because Zacharias spoke all of this filled with the Holy Ghost!
Luke 1:69 — “And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David…”
The salvation that Zacharias spoke about here is physical deliverance. We usually in Christendom (I heard this for myself several times in Sunday school classes and sermons at my former IFCA church) think that the problem that the “Jews in Jesus’ day” had was that they were looking for a deliverer from the Roman yoke, who would be a great conquering king. (See Revelation 19:11 – 16). The thought is that they should have been looking for one who would bring in an “invisible spiritual kingdom”. But to the instructed Israelite, the physical and spiritual were inseparable. Physical blessings and freedom were associated with keeping the covenant, and curses and bondage were the result of breaking it. “He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) meant both the sins themselves and the curses that were a result of those sins.
That this Horn of Salvation would be in the house of David would indicate that He is indeed the very one that the prophets spoke about. He could not be from the house of anyone else, but from the house of the great king of Israel to whom the promise of a perpetual kingdom was given.
Psalm 18:50 — “Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and sheweth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore.”
Amos 9:11 — “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old…”
Luke 1:70 — “As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began…”
This coming of Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God, into this world, was according to what was written in the Prophets, and spoken by the prophets. Every Israelite should have seen it, believed it, and rejoiced in it. Incredibly enough, even after the first rejection of the Anointed of God, and the awful crime of His crucifixion, the apostle Peter again offered to the Nation of Israel the King and His Kingdom, which they rejected:
Acts 3:17 – 26 — “And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”
Contrary to most popular “church” doctrine, this that Peter preached in the early chapters of Acts was not the beginning of some new thing. It was the fulfillment of promises made “since the world began”.
Luke 1:71 — “That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us…”
Such a pity, that although the Son of God, the King of Israel, came unto His own, His own received Him not, and this was never fulfilled. How sad to learn of the history of the Jewish people since this time, and to see that they still have not yet been saved from all of their enemies and from all them that hate them. How sad that they cried out “we have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15), and so have since been under “Caesar” in one form or another and never saved from their enemies, but always hated by the majority of the world. This is not to excuse anyone’s anti-semitism, but it certainly is why that God has allowed this awful fate on the only nation that He ever called “My people”. The people of the world should know, however, that they will not be held guiltless for their treatment of the Israelites in exile:
Isaiah 47:6 — “I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke.”
This was a prophecy of the fate of Babylon. They were allowed to do as they wished with Jehovah’s people in exile, and the world, exemplified by Babylon, will answer for the way that they have treated the people of Israel.
Matthew 5:7 — “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”
The unmerciful will not. Matthew 25:31 through the end of the chapter describes how the nations of the world will be judged for their treatment of “the least of these my brethren” (Matthew 25:40).
Luke 1:72 — “To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant…”
Remember from Romans 15:8 — “…Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers…”
He did not come to change the terms of the covenant or to give what was promised to them to someone else.
Luke 1:73 — “The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,”
Genesis 12:1 – 3 — “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
But the land that they were in was ruled by another nation. The great nation was the tail and not the head (Deuteronomy 28:13, 44), and all greatness was just a long lost memory. But Jehovah remembers (“Zacharias”) His oath (“Elisabeth”), and is gracious (“John”). The oath that the Lord promised to Abraham, the friend of God, would be remembered. It will still be remembered, just as He said it would be.
When the Lord Jesus, God’s Christ, returns to take this world back and establishes His Kingdom, Abraham’s family will surely be a blessing to the world. The world that often curses them will bless them, for they will be the priests of the Lord.
Micah 4:1 – 4 — “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.”
Zechariah 8:13, 20 – 23 — “And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong. … Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.”
Luke 1:74 — “That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,”
We should again take notice here about the nature of this hope. It is to live on this earth in peace.
Luke 1:75 — “In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.”
I will ask — rhetorically, of course — have the people of Israel been living in these conditions for even one day since our Lord came to this earth, let alone all the days of their life? To the amillennial, or supersessionist, have Christian believers as a whole realized this ever?
A resounding “NO” is the answer to both questions, yet a man filled with the Holy Spirit uttered these very words. To the second question, though supersessionism has formed a core tenet of “Christian theology”, it does not make it correct. Holding on to an error for a long time does not make it less of an error. The fact that an “Imperial Church” has taught this does not make it true. In fact, the history shows a church that could not be equated with righteousness and holiness, and was actually the greatest enemy to not only the scattered people of Israel, but the true believers in our Lord Jesus who wanted to remain true to Him.
To the first question — Why has Israel failed to receive the fulfillment of these precious promises? The answer is found in the following chapters of Luke, in Matthew and Mark, in John, and in Acts:
Matthew 23:37 – 39 — “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
Matthew 27:25 — “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.”
Mark 15:12 – 14 — “And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?
“And they cried out again, Crucify him.
“Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done?
“And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.”
John 1:11 — “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”
Acts 13:45 – 46 — “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”
Acts 18:5 – 6 — “And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.”
Acts 28:25 – 28 — “And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
“Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.”
The apostle Paul explains this problem, and reminds us that Israel, the nation with the covenants of promise, does indeed have a future, but during the present time, Gentiles as such are partaking in the promises of God apart from Israel, and the “church which is His Body” (Ephesians 1:22 – 23) is a whole new creation.
Romans 11:25 – 33 — “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
“As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”
Luke 1:76 — “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways…”
Finally, this new, happy dad begins to speak of his own newborn son. But it is about his role in preparing the way for the greater Child to be born that he speaks of him!
Isaiah 40:3 – 4 — “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain…”
Luke 1:77 — “To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,”
This is exactly the role that John would fill. John preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Luke 3:3). He preached repentance that bore fruit that showed the real heart repentance (Luke 3:8 – 14). He baptized with water unto repentance, and spoke of two coming baptisms that would be administered by the coming Messiah, our Lord Jesus.
John was sent to baptize (John 1:33), so he is known as the baptist. How the sins of the people would be remitted was not fully understood, but only that God would do it through Christ. We know now that God would indeed use the very cross where the people showed their hatred of the Son of His love to be the very means that the sins of the people would be put away forever. The epistle to the Hebrews speaks of this fact, and the epistle to the Colossians speaks of the total victory that Christ won at the cross. Paul teaches how the cross is the very means by which God has reconciled the world to Himself and can justly justify all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Luke 1:78 — “Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,”
God is surely merciful, and the Dayspring will visit again:
Hebrews 9:28 — “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
Luke 1:79 — “To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Oh for the day of peace to finally come! Oh for mankind to know the way of peace. It is a spoken fact of scripture (Romans 3:17), and a proven fact of history that mankind has not known the way of peace since Adam sinned in the garden, but Christ will bring in lasting peace when He rules and reigns on this earth — from Jerusalem, the city of peace (that has really never known peace).
But you may know peace! You may know peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ if you are justified by faith (Romans 5:1). And if you have peace with God, you may let the peace of God rule in your heart (Colossians 3:15). You are part of the one new man, if you have placed your faith in Christ, and there is no separation between believers, no matter their heritage (Ephesians 2:15).
All this peace may only be known to those in Christ, and the only ones who are in Christ are those who have believed the gospel of Christ, that He died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again; and when you are saved, enjoy peace with God, even in a world lacking any semblance of peace.
And to any of the scattered of Israel who may be reading this:
Romans 10:5 – 13 — “For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
The Lord’s great plans for your people in the future will be fulfilled, but none ever will be made right with God except by the blood of Christ, shed for you, for the remission of sins, and none will ever enter into that promise except by Him!
John 6:37 — “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
Charles Miller View All
Husband, father, engineer...Enjoys fishing, archery, guitar, running, and lifting, but most of all reading and studying God's Word.
As I said, these three articles are very good. Thank you for your insight. Keep up the good work for the Lord.