“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!