Luke 1:67-80: Praise and Prophecy

Read: Luke 1:67-80

After Zacharias and Elizabeth had named John, Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit. He issues up a song that is both praise and prophecy. The song starts with an accolade to God’s grace and mercy. He notes the “horn of salvation’ in the “house of David”. Zacharias was a priest so he was likely from the Levitical line. His wife Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron from which the Levitical line came too (Luke 1:5). Zacharias notes later that John would prepare the way for the Lord and notes that he would proclaim the message of Salvation which is Jesus who is the horn of Salvation from the house of David. Zacharias also recalls the promise to Abraham. This alludes to the when Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, but the Lord stopped him. And from this, God promised to Abraham that he’d have countless descendants that would bless the nations (Genesis 22:16-18).

The second part of the song is a prophecy pertaining specifically to John, where Zacharias tells what John would do: he would prepare the way for the Lord and proclaim the message of salvation to the people of Israel. John did precisely this before Jesus started his ministry. He proclaimed a message of salvation and repentance of sin in proclaimed that Jesus would come. And at this point, John would point to Jesus as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world (Luke 3:1-23).

Zacharias’ prophecy was fulfilled during the lifetime of Jesus. There are many other prophecy in the New Testament though that have not been fulfilled. While Christians wait for these prophecies to be fulfilled, Christians can praise God for what he has done in the work of Jesus – the horn of Salvation that came to save the nations from their sins.

Lord, I praise you for what you have done and what you will do!

Ecclesiastes 7:8-9: The End In Mind

Read: Ecclesiastes  7:8-9: The End In Mind

“Begin with the end in mind” has been a popular quote in recent years because of the best-seller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. The idea put forth in the book resonates with what the Preacher wrote some over two thousand years ago.  The Preacher, now seemingly advanced in years has reflected back in Ecclesiastes all that he had done. At the end of the day, the Preacher says that the end is better than the beginning and it is better to be patient than haughty — that is proud.  The comparison talks about what one puts into a task and likewise the results of the task. He’s saying that generally speaking, when one sets out to do something, he or she invests much time working towards a goal, and for this reason the goal, when obtained is most certainly a better state of affairs than when one started towards that goal (Psalms 126:5-6). But at the same time, the Preacher is offering a warning too: patience is better than pride. This is a warning against looking for quick results to build up one’s self. Rather than taking shortcuts, one should invest the proper time and energy into a task and be patient so that the results are robust rather than shoddy.   The Preacher also gives warning  against being hot tempered too, because anger of this fool makes one a fool. Coming off the previous proverb, the Preacher is probably speaking to about those that get ahead quickly. Those who use dubious schemes to advance themselves quickly frustrate another who is trying to do things the right way. Rather than become hot headed, one should keep his or her cool in the matter, for this is best (Proverbs 14:29, Proverbs 16:32).

Hebrews 12:1-3, describes a race. Hebrews says that one should put off things that entangle and run with perseverance the race that is marked out. Hebrews is teaching that the courses has been laid out already. Christians follow the commands of Christ for this is their course. The picture of Jesus standing at the finish encouraging one on is here too. The runner in the race Hebrews is describing that the runner is fixing his eyes on Jesus. Jesus himself had already persevered, having bore the cross and despised its shame, but through this he received glory. For Jesus, the beginning of the task was not easy, but the end result was glory. For the Christian, life is full of challenges, but the Christian is called to run with perseverance — that is not take shortcuts — and enduring hardship. At the end of the race, one will be rewarded for his or her faithfulness. The reward comes at the end of the race, not during or before. Christians should heed the words of the Preacher, know the end is better than the beginning, but patience is better than pride.

Lord, help me run the race with the end in mind!