A Silence Breaking Speech, Part Two - Rejoicing in The Promises of God to Abraham (And Us) - Advent 2018 Week Three
For generations the people of God had been waiting and watching for the Messiah. They longed to be set free from Roman rule and for God to fulfill His promise of making them a great nation. One of those waiting and watching and praying for God’s salvation was a priest named Zechariah.
In his old age Zechariah was visited by an angel and told that God was sending the deliverance and salvation that the people of God had been waiting and watching for. In Luke 1:67-79 we have the praise and prophecy that Zechariah spoke in response to this incredible news. This is commonly referred to as the Song of Zechariah or the Benedictus (Latin for blessed be).
The Promises Behind Zechariah’s Praise
Zechariah’s song is filled with references to the promises that God had made to the people of Israel. In the previous message we heard Zechariah’s praise for God’s keeping of His promises to David. This message considers God’s keeping of His promises to Abraham.
Historical Context: The Promises of God to Abraham
- Promises Made- Abraham was the Father of the nation and the one to whom God originally made promises for the nation. God told Abraham that through him a great nation would be formed, a blessed nation through whom the entire world would be blessed (Gen. 12:1-3). Abraham’s offspring would be innumerable, they would posses a land (Gen. 15:1-7) and he would be the father of many nations (Gen. 17:1-8). God guaranteed His word with a covenant (Gen. 15:7-20).
- Waiting for Fulfillment of the Promises– The promises of God were sure – they were guaranteed by His word, but over time it became clear that these were long-term promises. To a certain extent the entire Old Testament is the story of the people of God waiting and watching for God to keep His promises.
Throughout the Old Testament Scriptures the people ask God to keep His promises and He affirms the promises. Although much of the story is of the people’s unfaithfulness, God continues to reiterate His covenant to Abraham (Exodus 2:24–25; 6:2-5; Leviticus 26:42; Deuteronomy 8:18; Psalm 105:8–9; Ezekiel 16:60; Micah 7:18–20).
Zechariah’s Praise: God Remembers His Promises to Abraham (1:72-73)
By the time of Zechariah 42 generations have passed since God made His promises to Abraham (Matthew 1:17), but as Zechariah considers the message he received from the angel this is something he is sure of, God has remembered His promises to Abraham.
- Zechariah’s Declaration of God’s Mercy to His People – vs. 72
- Zechariah Declaration of God’s Faithfulness to His People – vs. 73
The Fulfillment of God’s Promises to Abraham
As Zechariah declared that God was keeping His promises to Abraham he was right, but he didn’t understand the complexity (or the full beauty and excellence) of God’s plan. In God’s plan the fulfillment of the promises would occur in stages. Some spiritual blessings in His first coming, while the national and political fulfillments are held until His second coming.
Darrell Bock-In His present ministry, Jesus receives and mediates the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant. In Him and through Him that covenant is and will be fulfilled. His mediation of the blessing extends to all peoples, to Jews and Gentiles who trust in Him. But He mediates it in stages, national and political blessing awaiting His return.
The Promises to Abraham and the Salvation of the Gentiles
- The Blessing to All Nations- The salvation blessings of the Abrahamic covenant are for all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, Jew or Gentile. If you believe, in a spiritual sense, you share in the blessing of this covenant and are the spiritual sons of Abraham (Galatians 3)
- Received by Faith– In the same way that Abraham had faith in the promises of God and received the declaration of “righteous” (Genesis 3:15), faith is the means of receiving the gift of salvation (blessed with Abraham) (Galatians 3, Romans 4).
- John MacArthur– Not all the physical seed of Abraham will receive the promises of salvation, but many who are not physical seed will receive them by coming to God by faith, thereby becoming spiritual offspring.
Zechariah’s Response to God’s Mercy and Promise Keeping
- A Response of Gratitude and Praise (1:72-73)– The whole of Zechariah’s song is a response of praise to the work of God.
- A Response of Service and Obedience (1:74-75) – Our response to the coming of Christ should be to serve Him and live in righteousness and holiness before Him.