04.03.07 Lk. 1:67-80
ZECHARIAH PROPHESIES OF JOHN’S MINISTRY
67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and provided redemption for His people.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, 70 just as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets in ancient times; 71 salvation from our enemies and from the clutches of those who hate us. 72 He has dealt mercifully with our fathers and remembered His holy covenant — 73 the oath that He swore to our father Abraham. He has given us the privilege, 74 since we have been rescued from our enemies’ clutches, to serve Him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness in His
presence all our days. 76 And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, 77 to give His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the Dawn from on high will visit us
79 to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. 80 The child grew up and became spiritually strong, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
The blessing or “Benedictus” of Zechariah (Lk. 1:67-69) had all six elements of the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24-26. He realized that his infant son had a prophetic calling, the first in four centuries. His psalm, or “Benedictus” (Lk. 1:68-79) is a praise of God and consists primarily of a string of Old Testament phrases, followed by his poetic words.
Vs. 68 Psalm 41:13; 119:19
Vs. 69 Psalm 132:17
Vs. 70 His own words
Vs. 71 Psalm 106:10
Vs. 72-73 Micah 7:20; Psalm 106:45; 105:8-9
Vs. 74-79 His own words
But carefully woven into Zechariah’s blessing are references to the three most important covenants of the Bible.
- The Covenant of David is mentioned in Luke 1:69.
- The Covenant of Abraham is mentioned in Luke 1:73.
- The essence of the New Covenant is mentioned in Luke 1:78-79.
Zechariah then concluded with his own words saying that his son would be the forerunner of Christ (Isa. 10:3; Mt. 11:10) by preaching repentance and salvation (Jn. 1:29; Lk. 3:3). His son would then introduce Jesus to the world (Num. 24:17; Mal 4:2), but it would take three decades before the evangelist would begin to fulfill Old Testament prophecies in his ministry throughout the desert and Jordan River Valley. Due to their advanced ages, Zechariah and Elizabeth probably never saw those prophecies fulfilled.
“Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit.” This event obviously occurred during the Old Covenant /Old Testament Period. The Pentecost experience was more than three decades into the future. Even though the gospels are a part of the New Testament book, all events prior to the resurrection of Jesus are within the Old Covenant Period. Under this covenant, the Holy Spirit came upon selected individuals for specific ministries and for specific seasons. Other examples are Miriam (Ex. 15:20), Huldah (2 Kg. 22:14), John the Baptist (Lk. 1:15), Mary, the mother of Jesus (Lk. 1:35), Elizabeth (Lk. 1:41-42), Simeon (Lk. 2:25-26), and Anna the prophetess (Lk. 2:36-38). Since the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is within all those who chose to place their faith in Christ Jesus and be obedient to Him.
“A horn of salvation.” A horn, such as a ram’s horn, was a universal symbol of supreme strength and authority for both the Jews and their Gentile neighbors (cf. Ps.18:2; 2 Sam. 22:3). In this case, the term salvation is derived from the Greek, soteris which means deliverance from enemies. This is exemplified by the four horns on the temple altar upon which sacrifices were offered up to God. However, in this context, holiness and power can refer only to Christ.
“The Dawn from high.” Some translators have this passage read, “The rising sun.” It is a phrase that refers to the Messiah in the Old Testament who would be sent by God in heaven. Therefore, the word “Dawn” is capitalized.
04.03.07.Q1 Was there a connection between the family of John the Baptist and the Essene Community (re: Lk. 1:67-80)?
This question has been a subject of considerable debate among scholars. Zechariah, along with many other orthodox Jews, was opposed to the Sadducean corruption in the temple, yet performed his obligations to the best of his abilities. Zechariah was of the clan of Abijah of the priestly Zadok family. It was the Zadok forefathers of Zechariah and John the Baptist, who more than a century earlier, had established the separatist Essene movement with enclaves in the desert wilderness outside Damascus, in Qumran by the Dead Sea, and in a small section in western Jerusalem. Those living in Qumran are now credited for having written the world-famous Dead Sea Scrolls.
It would have been only natural for Zechariah’s extended family to care for young John when his elderly parents died, especially since the Essenes were known to take in orphans. As the son of a priest, John was destined to become a priest and, as such, he learned of all the temple services, rituals, as well as the depth of corruption. He could have enjoyed life with flattering respect and envy along with a life of modest plenty. But from birth he was on a mission and determined to fulfill it.
John’s strong childhood training in the Torah was reflected in his later years when he was preaching. He rejected the Essene theology of strong and legalistic ritual observances but preached a message of salvation and repentance. Zechariah was most certainly looking for the coming of the messiah. A careful examination of John’s words reveals that he was, in fact, looking forward to the coming of the political-messiah who would deliver the Jewish people from Roman oppression. His understanding of who the messiah would be and what he would do was very typical of the common Jew. Nonetheless, even though there is a historical and genealogical connection between John and the Essenes, as well as a mutual disgust for the temple leadership, there is no other known relationship between John and those who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.
. Martin, Worship in the Early Church. 44.
. See also Lk. 1:71; Acts 7:25; Jund 25; Barclay, A New Testament Wordbook. 30-32.
. See Appendix 6 concerning Old Testament sacrifices and Jesus.
. Num. 24:17; Isa. 9:2; 60:1; Mal. 4:2; For more information on Jesus in the Old Testament, see the exhaustive studies by John Metzger, The Tri-Unity of God is Jewish and God in Eclipse.