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The Prophetic Birth of John the Baptist (Part 1)

The Gospel of Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Upon John's brith, Zechariah's mouth is reopened and he speaks. His voice speaks of God's plan to redeem all who put their faith in him. Today, the church is like a modern Zechariah and our mouth must open to the coming of our Lord



Today we’re going to get right into this message. I’m not going to spend much of my introductory time covering announcements or thoughts on current events because I think this message is centered around all of that. In fact I’m making a note right here to reevaluate this message according to the current events compared to when this was written at the end of October. So with that, we are going to get into this message

The Birth of John the Baptist

Luke 1:57–66 ESV
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.
Here it is. If you remember back to Luke 1:13, the Angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah during his priestly duties at the Altar of Incense to tell Zechariah that he and his wife (both well-past the age of having children), that they will conceive a son and they are to name that child John. John is to be the forerunner of the Messiah as prophesied in Isaiah 40:3. But Zechariah does not believe Gabriel and therefore Gabriel renders Zechariah as mute until the time John as born (Luke 1:18-20).
As we just read, after John is born, Zechariah confirms his name is John and he is able to speak once again. The people understand all of this as a move of God. The recognize God’s is at work. Everyone is filled with “awe” (phobos). This word regularly describes fear and reverence that befall humans in the immanence of God. (James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Luke, ed. D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary).
Here’s what the church needs to know. I mentioned when I preached about Zechariah’s encounter with Gabriel, in my message The Cost of Doubt, that there is a price to pay for unbelief. It mutes God’s people from leading others to the truth because we ourselves doubt the truth. The progressive result of unbelief is apostasy among God’s people.
The Church is in a season of unbelief. Many churches are great at “producing” captivating and exciting services, but there’s no meat. We don’t need God other than to be the subject of our entertainment. Thus the church has effectively become inarticulately aphasic. That doesn’t mean that good work isn’t being done. But the same could be said about the Jewish people prior to the coming of Christ.
Elizabeth names the baby John at his circumcision. Everyone protests. “None of your relatives is called by this name’ ” (Luke 1:61). Now it is time for Zechariah restore himself with God. This was not the name that Zechariah had chosen. It was the name God had chosen. Nothing else was acceptable. Zechariah’s writes on a tablet “His name is John” on a tablet (Luke 1:63) and instantly his voice is restored (Luke 1:64).

Zechariah’s Prophesy (Introduction)

Luke 1:67 ESV
And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
What results is a prophetic utterance, from Zechariah. Luke tells us in Luke 1:67 that he is full of the Holy Spirit. That’s critical to understand here. The church must be constantly filled and led by the Holy Spirit. Some people have shied away from this idea because of misconceptions derived from charismatic movements. That’s not what I’m talking about. I talking about a church intent on being driven by the Spirit in its worship, its leadership, and its view of Scripture. As opposed to a church that is driven by man-made entertainment, strategies, business models, and aspirations.
The first thing Zachariah speaks after nine months of being mute is a prophetic praise to God. Zacharias’ prophetic utterance is powerful and it deserves our full attention. Now you might read this passage and pass them by without really stopping and considering the depth (scripturally and theologically) what he said. We can’t do that. In fact, it's going to take us a couple of weeks to get through this. What I want to do for the rest of today and next week is move through this piece by piece and then loop back around to summarize what this means to us as we go along.
Let’s first take a survey of the entire thing and then we’ll break it down
Luke 1:68–80 ESV
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
We call the prophetic praise of Zechariah The Benedictus. Whereas Mary’s poetic song (The Magnificat) was principally from the the Psalms, The Benedictus is primarily a prophetic poem. Its emphasis is the fullness of God’s faithfulness for the salvation of His people.
Zachariah, in his song of praise here, is connecting to Old Testament Scripture what is unfolding before his very eyes.  He is linking John’s Birth, the coming of Mary, John Leaping in Elizabeth’s womb, the exclamation of Elizabeth upon Mary’s greeting, and Gabriel’s words to very specific covenants given in the Old Testament:
God’s covenant to David, (2 Sam 7:4-16)
God’s covenant to Abraham, (Gen. 12:2–3)
God’s New Covenant for the forgiveness of sin, (Jeremiah 31)
So this is not just a random song of praise, but it critical to our understanding God’s plan of redemption and the eternal reign of Jesus. These are covenants which have to do with salvation.  The Davidic Covenant relates to the universal and eternal rule of Jesus Christ. The Abrahamic Covenant deals primarily with promises made by God to Israel for blessing.  The New Covenant is personal, in that it deals with how God works for the forgiveness of sin. (MacArthur)
This is going to get pretty deep theologically at times, but stay with me. Understanding this, helps us better understand our relationship to God through Jesus Christ, the millennial rapture of the church, the second coming of Christ, and the role of Israel in prophetic events.
Luke 21:28 ESV
Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
We can divide Zachariah's praise then into these three parts: the Davidic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, and the New Covenant. We’ll Cover the first part of Zechariah’s Benedictus today and the remaining two next week along with a time of looking at what’s going on today.

The Davidic Covenant

Luke 1:68–71 ESV
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us;
Zachariah had the spiritual discernment to know what was going on. I think that 9 months of silence allowed him to tune in his spiritual ears and incline his heart toward God to see what was happening before him. Prophetically, this was more than 2 babies being born. This was nothing less than the salvation of the world. He knew the prophetic promises that were being fulfilled and were about to be fulfilled. He knew that his son was the forerunner of the Messiah and the Messiah couldn't be far behind.  And he already knew the mother of the Messiah was pregnant, namely Mary.  She had just spent three months in their home.  He knew the Messiah was coming and with the Messiah would come all the fulfillment of Davidic promise. But he couldn’t exclaim it to his people.
These were events that every Jewish person had hoped and dreamed would come for centuries. Now it was suddenly happening.  This was the redemption of Jerusalem, as mentioned in Luke 2:38.  This is what an old lady named Anna had sixty-four years spent in the temple praying and fasting. This was the coming of the Messiah.  This was the dawn of redemption.  This was fulfillment of Davidic Covenant promise. Zachariah saw this and now spoke boldly the fulfillment of God’s faithfulness. This is God fulfilling his promises of redemption.
Verse 69 refers to a horn of Salvation. Now, what does this mean? This phrase is derived from an animal’s horn, symbolizing strength and power.
Deuteronomy 33:17 ESV
A firstborn bull—he has majesty, and his horns are the horns of a wild ox; with them he shall gore the peoples, all of them, to the ends of the earth; they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”
An animal’s horn was an ornament of beauty, but also protection. Here it is a symbol of a King to fight and protect God’s people.
Psalm 132:17 ESV
There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
David was the defining king; God's king and the king who established the great kingdom which began to decline through his son and certainly didn't exist in his predecessor Saul.  By the time Solomon got done with David's kingdom, it had been split.  By the time the split kingdom disappeared, everything was gone.  But the great apex was the kingdom of David.  And they longed for the restoration of the greatness of the Davidic kingdom when Messiah came. This was the promise or covenant from God through David to all of Israel:
2 Samuel 7:11–13 ESV
from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
The Davidic covenant had been anticipated in God’s covenant with Abraham
Genesis 17:6 ESV
I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.
. It would be through the Davidic king that God’s promise of blessing to the nations would be accomplished
2 Samuel 7:19 ESV
And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God!
Psalm 72:8–11 ESV
May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth! May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust! May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!
The Davidic king would be the expression of God’s theocratic rule in Israel. He was to reflect the righteous rule of the divine King. He was also to lead Israel in the faithful observance of the Mosaic law. The Abrahamic covenant had promised a realm and a people for God’s kingdom. The Mosaic covenant provided the law of the kingdom. The Davidic covenant now provides a human king for the kingdom. The ultimate fulfillment of this covenant was through the Messiah.
One of the major emphases of the Davidic covenant is the idea of perpetuity. David had wanted to build for God a permanent dwelling place, but God instead promised that he would establish for David a permanent dynasty. The Hebrew term ‘ad -‘olam, or “forever,” is found eight times. “The main feature of this kingship will be its permanent stability: it will last forever (2 Sam. 7:13, 16).” (
The Davidic covenant looks not only to the fulfillment of past prophecies, it also looks forward, laying the foundation for Israel’s eschatological hopes. It was central in the messages of hope proclaimed by Hebrew prophets of later generations The prophets began to understand the promises of the Davidic covenant eschatologically. That’s why when someone asks me when the end-times started, I always say at the ascension of Jesus. He ascended to heaven to establish his eternal throne and Kingdom. That’s why when Jesus and John the Baptist began their preaching ministry, their message was, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Matt 3:2; Matt 4:17).


This “Mighty Horn of salvation” (Luke 1:68) is still saving even the worst of people
Hebrews 7:25 ESV
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
This is critical for us to understand because our faith is not based on a fairy tale or a metaphysical oracle pulled from the air. The Sovereign and Almighty God put these events into place so that men and women all over the world could recognize them follow them, and watch their unfolding. God’s faithfulness to His covenants with his people is a guarantee to the world that His promises are truth. God’s faithfulness to Israel is a sign to us of His mercy, grace, patience, and long-suffering. But there is coming a time, and it is very soon, when The Day of the Lord and His judgement will arrive. At that moment, the church will be gone
Luke 21:28 ESV
Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Things are changing in our world at a dizzying rate. We need to be “Rapture Ready.” In the very near future, I’m going to be adding a Wednesday night Bible Study to our schedule.
Take it to the Cross
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