“Through the tender mercy of our God – whereby the dayspring from on high visited us – (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.” [Lk.1:78-79]
These verses mark the end of a remarkable utterance! The whole of which statement constitutes the Holy Spirit inspired and induced words of Zacharias, the earthly father of John the Baptist. Before we look directly at our text, and what it delivers to us, let’s observe first some important things from its greater context.
The birth of the Baptist was announced by the angel, Gabriel, unto Zacharias, a priest of the Temple of the Lord. Gabriel delivered to the aged Zacharias the message that his prayers for a son would finally be answered. He told him that his son (whom he was to name, John) would go before the One who is to be the Christ, “to make ready – a people – prepared for the Lord” (vs.17). However, Zacharias could not believe the good news. So, therefore, gracious and merciful God closed his mouth so that he would not be able to speak — until all that was reported to him concerning the birth of his son came to pass in its appointed time (vs.20). The silenced Zacharias returns home — and, Elisabeth, his known-to-be-barren wife, conceives. Only God who “quickeneth the dead – and calleth those things which be not – as though they were.” [Ro.4:17] could do something like that! Praise His Name! Fear not! Believe in Him! [see and note: Mk.5:36]
Unbelief is indeed a plague of sin to real and vibrant spiritual life and growth. Its weeds and thorns and thistles are always springing up in the grace planted garden of God in and among the hearts of mortal men and women in this fallen-in-sin and law-cursed world. Satan, himself, works tirelessly in the hearts and minds of unbelievers – “lest the Light (lit.) of the gospel of the glory of the Christ – who is the image of God – should shine unto them.” [2Co.4:4] And even an old Priest like, Zacharias, who had served many years in the Temple of the Lord is not immune to the sinful existence of unbelief. But, praise the Lord God – He will not allow unbelief to have its reigning and damning dominion over any of His servants [Ro.5:21]. From Rev.3:19 our Lord says: “As many as I love – I rebuke and chasten! Be zealous therefore, and repent!” He sends His angels as a messenger with the good news of His grace and truth – that will cure His servant of the plague of unbelief – and super-abundantly provide the answer to the prayerful longing of the heart of Zacharias. This will give him joy and gladness! [see: Lk.1:13-14]
Vs.57 says: “Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.” When the boy was 8 days old they came to the Temple to get him circumcised according to the command of the Lord – and they named him, John, just as they were told to do. This is when the Lord opened once again the mouth of Zacharias — and as vs.67 says, he, having been filled with the Holy Spirit – heralds forth vs.68-79. This remarkable statement reaches its profound peak in the words of our text (vs.78-79).
These two verses bring forward to us: “…the tender mercy of our God” — which is the source of all the rest of the good things that the most high God declares through His Priest – that will surely come to pass. Which things include: the actual coming of the birth of the God/man – and the purpose of His coming – and the ultimate divine accomplishment where rescuing the people of God is concerned! This makes up the context that encompasses Lk.1:78-79.
For Christ’s Glory Only!
“Sanctify them by thy truth – thy Word is truth.” “For both He that sanctifieth – and they who are sanctified – are all of one. For which cause, He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the Book – it is written of me) to do thy will, O God.” “By the which will – we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ – once for all.” “For by one offering – He hath perfected forever – them that are sanctified.” [Jn.17:17; He.2:11; 10:7,10,14]
In God’s Word, to sanctify means to be set apart by holy God – for God’s holy purpose. And, in each of these descriptive passages – it is the person of our Savior/God, the Lord Jesus Christ – or, His saved ones – which is being referred to where sanctification is concerned. Specifically, God’s eternally saved ones are defined in Jn.17:2 as those out of all of fallen human flesh that the Father has given unto the Son. Unto these the Son of God has the sovereign divine authority and power to give eternal life. Even – “to as many as” – the Father has given unto Him! All of these persons will – by God’s will and grace — at some point in the time of their earthly existence, they will come to personally repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as being their eternal sovereign Savior propitiatory substitute. Praise His Name! [see Jn.6:37]
The Jn.17 text also declares unto us that our sanctification is all because of the person and work of Christ Jesus, our Lord. He is both the “Truth” [Jn.14:6] and He is the living “Word” [Jn.1:1-3,14]. If it’s not all Christ, dear ones, it’s all wrong! In fact, this is substantiated by the first text brought forward from the epistle of Hebrews: “For both He that sanctifieth – and they who are sanctified – are all of one.” We are one with Him, because we have been placed in Him. This verse echoes that which is written in 1Jn.4:17, which says: “…as He is – so are we – in this world!”
This sanctification of God’s saved ones is obviously a vital part of the eternal council and purpose of our great and sovereign God in sending His eternal Son into our world to set us apart from the rest of this fallen-in-sin world. Hence, the Son declared from eternity – in eternity – and for eternity: “Behold, I come (in the volume of the Book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God.” Jesus said in Jn.6:38-39: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me – that of all which He hath given me – I should lose nothing – but should raise it up again at the last day.” Praise the grace of God!
Finally, the matter of the “will” is addressed. He.10:10 explicitly says of God’s will in our being sanctified: “By the which will – we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ – once for all.” This text makes it clear that it is not at all the will of man that initiates, or completes, his sanctification unto his eternal salvation – no – it’s all been done by the will of God – to the glory of God – alone! 1Co.1:30-31 declares the pure gospel truth: “But of Him (or, by His doing) are ye in Christ Jesus – who is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption – that according as it is written – he that glorieth – let him glory in the Lord.” The pure truth of the gospel is in the fact that it is the gospel of the glory — only – of the Lord Jesus Christ – the only sovereign Savior/ substitute that there ever was, is, or ever will be! Hence, He.10:17 boldly proclaims: “For by one offering He hath perfected forever – them that are sanctified!” The Holy Spirit through Paul, without reservation, declares from Acts 20:32: “And, now, brethren, I commend you to God – and to the Word of His grace – which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance – among all them which are sanctified.” All glory to Christ Jesus!
For Christ’s Glory Only!
“Then shall we know, (if) we follow on – to know the Lord – His going forth is prepared as the morning…and He shall come unto us as the rain – as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” [Hos.6:3]
The catalyst behind all the genuine followers – all the true disciples – of Jesus Christ the Lord is none other than the Lord, Himself. He is the alpha and omega of all that pertains to an eternally saving relationship with Him. Hence it connects: “His going forth” – to the phrase, “we follow on to know the Lord” (remember the word “if” is not in the original Hebrew). We who are genuine followers of the Lord Jesus Christ – from the time that we genuinely came to know Him personally as our Lord and Savior – we began a life-long journey in this life of following, growing and getting to know Him more and more. We find ourselves among all those chosen and “peculiar people” who “have received the love of the Truth, that they might be saved”! [1Pe.2:9; 2Th.2:10]
It is the Lord who has eternally purposed for this to be the Way for us to be saved and go to heaven. Therefore, it says: “His going forth – is prepared…”. All of this takes place in perfect accordance with the perfectly established preparation of our sovereign, all-governing Lord God.
The Holy Spirit through Hosea puts all this in direct context with the daily realization of a new morning. The scripture exhorts us by saying: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy wherunto we would do well to take heed – as unto a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn and the day star arise in our hearts.” This verse also looks to the perfect preparation of our Lord and Creator – in the dawn of every new morning.
Our Hosea text describes where we are right now in what we know of our Lord Jesus – and our following on to know Him even more; to love Him even more (and to know more of His love for us). 2Pe.3:18 goes on and exhorts us to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. This echoes our following on “to know the Lord”.
Our Lord’s perfect “preparation” is always in line with the perfect Way of His perfect work which will be performed according to His perfect timing. Therefore does the text mention that: “He shall come unto us – as the rain – as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” Here, once again, is emphasized the certainty of God’s grace unto us! From what I understand, in Palestine there were typically just two seasons in the year when rain would occur. It would first come at the end of September, or the beginning of October. This was the beginning of the civil year of the Jews. This rain was regarded as the former or early rain. It came regularly right after the seed was planted so as to soak the soil and aid – or prepare – the seed for its germination. Then, by the end of March and on throughout April there would come what was regarded as the latter rain which would in turn complete the process – or prepare the crop — for the harvest. These two seasons had their own particular purpose to fulfill in God’s perfectly designed decree and plan. Without them there would only be famine and ultimately death. Spiritual growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ works out in just the same precise manner. The Word of the Lord says: “For as the rain cometh down – and the snow – from heaven – and returneth not thither – but watereth the earth and maketh it to bring forth and bud – that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater: so shall my Word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void – but it shall accomplish that which I please – and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” [Is.55:10-11] Praise His Wonderful Loving and Gracious Name!! Amen.
-For Christ’s Glory Only!
[Hos.6:3] “Then shall we know – (if) we follow on to know the Lord. His going forth is prepared as the morning – and He shall come unto us as the rain – as the latter and former rain unto the earth”
That which we are examining now is the blessing this 3rd verse descriptively declares and the certainty of it being bestowed that is bound up with it. The verses that precede this third verse deliver to us the context that explicitly builds up to what is here being stated. Vs.1-2 says (lit.), “Come and let us return to the Lord – for He hath torn – but He will heal us – He hath smitten – but He will bind us up (2) He will revive us after two days; in the third day He will lift us up – and we shall live before Him.” Obviously this was the message given by our Lord unto Hosea for him to declare to His people. It is typical of the message that is needing to be declared unto God’s people today. It continues to be so amazing how relevant the Word of God is to the true people of God – in every generation. The healing balm of God’s grace of repentance serves to successfully steer us time and time again directly into the merciful, forgiving and restoring presence of our loving Lord. That’s what makes Hos.6:3 such a wonderful gospel text unto us! We need to be reminded of the gospel message of this verse over and over and over again as we sojourn through this fallen and sinful world! Hos.6:1-3 descriptively declares the Lord’s great faithfulness unto us even when we (like Israel) have been, at times, grossly unfaithful to Him and His Word.
From the very beginning verse 3 declares: “Then shall we know”. This is a declaration of the sovereign certainty of God’s grace unto us! According to the immediate context of vs.1-2 – after our Savior tears and heals us – after He smites and binds us up – He then leads us down the very same path that He, Himself, had to walk, in His eternally saving us just so we, (lit.) before His face, shall eternally live! “Then” – as the Word of His grace says (in vs.3) – “shall we know”.
That which is also very interesting is the fact that the word “if” that starts the next phrase is not in the original Hebrew. In our English, whenever we read a descriptive statement with an “if” clause – it most often means that the declared description is conditioned on the occurrence of the “if” clause. But, that is not what’s being said here. This passage is not conditional at all upon a response from a fallen sinner human being! What is being declared is an absolute certainty to take place — in a genuinely Christ-cleansed and a Holy Spirit-of-grace converted sinner-saved-by-grace true child of God. You know your Lord – and you follow on to know the Lord even more! When God begins to bestow His grace and mercy upon you – He will go on bestowing His grace and mercy upon you. That makes these words a genuine motivation for you to turn to Him as the context of this passage encourages you to do. Praise His wonderful Name!
It’s the Lord’s going forth on our behalf that brings these wonderful things to pass. Hence the text says that His going forth is “prepared”. This word means that His going forth is (lit.) causatively appointed and rendered sure by God, Himself. The Word says that the Lord’s going forth is appointed and rendered as sure to take place – “as the morning”. As sure as there is a setting of the Sun in this world – there is also a rising! God has fixed this to be certain to happen. And, here He says that His going forth on behalf of His people is equally as certain. In fact, He says that “He shall come unto us – as the rain…”. What does that mean? We will get into that certainty in our next newsletter. Until then – may the Lord richly bless you. Amen.
-For Christ’s Glory Only!
“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord. His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain – as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” “For even hereunto were ye called – because Christ also suffered for us – leaving us an example that ye should follow in His steps – who did no sin – neither was guile found in His mouth.” [Hos.6:3; 1Pe.2:21-22]
A wonderful Bible teacher named, J.C. Philpot, so aptly wrote: “There is one feature in true religion perhaps not much insisted upon, but not the less real and genuine; which is this, that all true religion brings the soul into vital and immediate contact with God. False religion – on the other hand – only sets the soul at a distance from Him.” He goes on to say: “the saints of God breathe forth their desires after the Lord.” Then, a little later he concludes by saying: “In opposition to this – there is no mark stamped upon false religion more evidently and plainly than this in that it sets up a false god – an idol god – not perhaps a wood or stone representation – but a god adapted to the carnal mind – suitable to the natural heart – in a word, such a god as we see in all ages – blind, fallen man has worshipped. Thus, were you to analyze and examine all false religion – whatever its name or nature – you would find this feature stamped upon it, that it set up a false god for the true God – a false faith for true faith – and a false righteousness for a true righteousness – and thus worships an imaginary – an idol god – instead of the true and living God – the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.” In regards to these things, Philpot ultimately says: “Now we may be well assured, that nothing short of the work and teaching of God in the heart can ever pull down this false god – and set up in its place, ‘the only true God and Jesus Christ – whom He hath sent.’ [Jn.17:3] ”
These observations by Philpot (1802-1869) are amazingly relevant to true believing sinners today! And, this is precisely what our text above from Hosea 6 is talking about. Sinners-saved-by-grace who have been quickened by the Holy Spirit and regenerated by a revelation of the Truth of the Word of God. It is these — who have truly received – by the grace of God – a genuine love of the pure Truth of the gospel of the glory, only, of the Lord Jesus Christ (2Th.2:10). And, it is these – that are the ones who are being referred to by the 1st person plural pronoun “we” in Hos.6:3, when it says: “Then shall we know…”. In addition, this divine clarification is even further “pin-pointed” and described by the next phrase: “if we follow on to know the Lord”!
There are whole lifetimes of following Christ that are being described in this one phrase! This is referring to the same thing that Ro.8:14 descriptively declares when it says: “As many as – are led by the Spirit of God – they – are the sons of God”. And, who exactly are the “many”? The same as referred to from Acts 13:48: “As many as – were ordained to eternal life – believed”. These are the same that are also being described from Eph.2:10: “For we are His workmanship – created in Christ Jesus – unto good works which God hath before ordained – that we should walk in them.”
Truly following in the footsteps of Christ our Lord – is – growing in grace, “and in the knowledge” of Him — as our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ – as we go! [2Pe.3:18] So, when we are being led by the Spirit of God, we can be assured that – by God’s saving grace – we shall be constantly “going” and “growing” — according to His will and plan to save us! Praise His Name!
We shall be looking even more closely to that which Hos.6:3 means when it says: “His going forth is prepared as the morning”; and also: “He shall come unto as the rain”.
For Christ’s Glory Only!
“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more – unto the perfect day.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord. His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain – as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” [Pr.4:18; 1Jn.1:9; Hos.6:3]
The first text above declares the sure and certain – even the predestined – path through this fallen world – that is being followed by all of those that God the Father has given to His eternal, beloved Son — for Him to be both, “just – and the justifier of him – which believeth in Jesus” [Ro.3:26] Every true – “born from above” child of God has been, by the sovereign grace of Christ, delivered from “all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish” and have genuinely received “the love of the truth, that they might be saved”[2Th.2:10]. The “path” of the just – is a path that is divinely illumined in “the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”! [2Co.4:6] The ongoing prayer of our hearts becomes that which is written in Ps.25:4-5: “Show me thy ways, O Lord, teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me. For thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”
The second text above declares the announcement of a descriptive “if” clause that reveals a divinely induced and motivated pure gospel reception and reaction. This descriptive declaration is something that happens to us by virtue of a divine “cause and effect” reality.
The Word of God makes it clear that we all – without exception – come into being in this world being active lying transgressors from our mother’s womb! [see Is.48:8 and Ps.58:3] Nevertheless, by the gracious work of God the Holy Spirit – effectively using the holy Word of God – we are made to see the sinners that we truly are – and we are granted God’s grace of repentance – and our hearts become broken and contrite — due to the reality of our sins – and we, therefore, “confess our sins” (or, say the same thing that God does about our sins unto Him). God does all this to us — for us (for our good). Therefore, we – by His enabling grace – fulfill that which is spoken of from Phil.2:12-13: We“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God that worketh in you – both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Then comes to pass the divinely initiated and instituted cause and effect reaction that this text describes: We confess our sins – and “…God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins – and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Praise His Name! We most definitely want to be regarded by God in this world as His faithful “confessors”.
Then we come to the third text – which actually describes, once again, the genuine leading of the Spirit of God as we live and walk through this sinful world [Ro.8:14]. We shall not be able – at this juncture — to sufficiently mine all the rich treasures that are being put forth in this particular verse in Hosea. So, we will reserve doing so with next month’s prayer letter. But, for now let us attempt to make just a couple of simple, sound observations. In keeping with the other two texts – along with what we have already said in conjunction with them: What may we therefore conclude? Right at the very outset, the answer to this question is obviously going to be in the same vein that we have been looking at in the last couple of month’s newsletters. Where are we right now as far as being led through this fallen-in-sin world? Are we being led astray by the error of the Wicked? Or, are we being led by God the Holy Spirit? [2Pe.3:17; Ro.8:14] Let’s examine this further in next month’s prayer letter… Amen
For Christ’s Glory Only!