‘His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: ‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us – to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.’ And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.’ (Luke 1:67-80)
Summary: The Holy Spirit inspires prophecy, which strengthens, encourages and comforts.
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The Holy Spirit inspires prophecy (1:67)
‘His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied…’ (Luke 1:67)
As with Elizabeth (v.41), when Zechariah is filled with the Holy Spirit, He begins to prophesy - to praise God as he is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Prophecy is a broad term for any speech that is inspired by the Holy Spirit - revelation given by the Spirit. Prophecy can be foretelling (predictive) and or forth-telling (revelation of God and truth); Zechariah’s prophetic song contains elements of both as he ‘forth-tells’ the glory of God and ‘foretells’ the ministry of John (The Baptist) and Jesus.
He sings of the redeemer and king (1:68-69)
He sings of Jesus as ‘a horn of salvation’; ‘horn’ - as in the horn of a bull - speaks of strength and rule; Jesus is a mighty Saviour! When we are inspired by the Holy Spirit, we trust and bow to Jesus’ kingship in a new way and help others to do the same.
The Holy Spirit also inspires him to speak of this King as our Redeemer. Jesus is both King and Redeemer. Redemption speaks of being brought out of slavery. Jesus has delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of God. His blood—His death—was the price of our redemption.
When we are inspired by the Spirit, we have a renewed appreciation and help others admire our King, who is also our Redeemer.
He sings of God keeping His promises (1:70-75)
Zechariah praises God for faithfully keeping His promises to David and Abraham. God fulfils His covenant promises to provide a King and Saviour and bring victory to His people.
He sings of hope (1:76-80)
He prophesies about the ministry of his son John who will be the forerunner of Jesus who, in turn, will bring mercy and eternal hope to us.
Jesus is compared with the rising of the sun on a dark and dead place. If we know Jesus, the darkness has been dispelled and light, life and forgiveness through the ‘tender mercy of our God’ are flooding our lives. This is a present reality that will be fully realised at the return of Christ when sin, death and darkness will be no more. John the Baptist’s ministry is reminiscent of the Prelude to ‘Also Sprach Zarathustrstra’ by Richard Strauss (famously used in 2001 A Space Odyssey), which begins with a small prophetic voice but which will certainly culminate in the crescendo of the restoration of all things.
When we are inspired by the Holy Spirit through prophecy or to prophesy, we help people to find hope in this dark world through Christ.
This is a truly inspiring piece of poetic writing that warrants and will greatly reward meditative reflection.
The Holy Spirit inspires prophecy which strengthens, encourages and comforts. The Holy Spirit wants us to prophecy. Paul writes:
‘Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.’ (1 Corinthians 14:1).
And we are told of the result of prophecy:
‘But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.’ (1 Corinthians 14:3)
Let’s allow this prophecy from Zechariah to fill us with joy and hope. Let’s also allow the Holy Spirit to use us to to prophesy and so bring strength, courage and comfort to others.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week and how has this helped you / affected your life?
3. STUDY AND PRAY TOGETHER
Please read Luke 1:39-80
On Sunday, we saw that when the Holy Spirit is working in someone, this will, as with Elizabeth, Mary and Zechariah, result in praise and joy which overflows in encouragement for others.
Did anything particularly strike you from Sunday's message?
In Luke 1:39-45, how does Elizabeth encourage Mary and what does this result in?
When we are filled with the Spirit, we will encourage others, why is this so and why is this important?
In Luke 1:46-45, we overhear Mary's song of worship as she is inspired by the Spirit. How could you develop your personal and corporate worship?
In Luke 1:67-80, we overhear Zechariah's 'prophetic' song of worship as he, like Mary, is filled with the Spirit. What does this 'prophetic' song teach us about God and hope?
SIV - This section is full of the work of the Spirit. If we are full of the Spirit, what will happen regarding our witness?
SIV - How could you serve, invest and invite this week and let’s pray about this.
Prayer - How would you like prayer as a result of today’s study?