The Second Song of Advent: Zechariah’s Prophecy

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And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
    and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74     that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75     in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
    whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.” – 
Luke 1:67-79

Dogwood Canyon Entrance | Near Branson, Missouri | October 2021

We just finished celebrating a milestone birthday at my house. I may have been the birthday boy of honor. It was a wonderful affair. Good friends. Kind wishes. Joy shared. Conversations. Food. Drink. Music. Even a trivia game about the birthday boy’s life. “Happy birthday,” wishes were accompanied by other kind words. Thank you, friends!

I mention this because of the first word in Zechariah’s song. It is translated, “Blessed,” or “Praise be,” or “Let us praise…” And rightly so. But the word might also be “Let us speak well of…” We get the word eulogy, an almost literal transliteration of the Greek. Let’s speak well of God, is what Zechariah is saying. A footnote in the New American Bible offers this insight:

Like the canticle of Mary (Lk 1:46–55) the canticle of Zechariah is only loosely connected with its context. Apart from Lk 1:76–77, the hymn is speaking of a horn for our salvation (Lk 1:69) and the daybreak from on high (Lk 1:78) applies more closely to Jesus and his work than to John. 

Whatever the context or focus, the question for us today is whether we will speak well of God. Will we praise him? Will we declare him blessed? Is he set apart in your heart and life? Do your words acknowledge what he has done for you? Are you aware of his grace and goodness to you and to all people? Do you believe that God has raised up a horn for our salvation; a place of strength, hope, grace, love and life? Do you realize that the daybreak from on high has risen? The Daybreak from on high?

Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. God opened his mouth to express his praise, and help the people look beyond even this current moment of great joy. After all, John has been born. She who was said to be barren has born a child. And no matter what anyone thought, his name would be John. As good as that was, Zechariah was moved to express praise to God for things reaching far beyond that moment. 

So now the question is two-fold. Will we speak well of God? And will we recognize any good moment as a blessing from God, but look beyond the moment to the greater blessing of salvation through Jesus Christ? That means that whether we are experiencing God’s immediate blessings, or yearning for them, looking to his ultimate blessing in Christ will move us to speak well of him. 

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