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Songs of Praise for Jesus

Date: Dec. 8, 2008

Author: Bob Henkins

Luke 1:39-80

Key Verse: Luke 1:69

He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David

Most people like to sing. We usually sing when we are happy. But what do we sing about? The most common are songs about love. In this passage we see two songs of praise from two people who can’t hold in their joy any longer and burst out in song expressing their love for Jesus. One is the song of Mary, the young country girl, and the other is the song of an old man, Zechariah. They are very different yet their songs praise the same God. Let’s see why they are so happy.

  1. Mary’ song (39-79)

As we heard last week, Mary was a virgin pledged to marry Joseph but one day Gabriel, the angel of God visited her, and told her that she would be the mother of the Messiah. What a shock. This was a critical point in her life. She had chose to accept God’s purpose for her saying, “May it be to me as you have said.” Her decision came from believing in the word of God whole heartedly. Still she was standing at the cross roads and had to follow through with her decision. What did she do? Look at v39-40. “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth.” When Mary heard the angel's message, she could have ran to Joseph seeking human comfort but she didn’t. Instead she sought the truth of God. She decided to visit Elizabeth to see the work of God in her, to see if what the angel had said was true. This was her act of faith. Decisions must be followed by acts of faith. Her act of faith was not an easy one, most are not because these are the times when Satan attacks us full force in order to stop us from following God. How nice it would be to obey God without any hindrance from Satan. But when we decide to do God's work, Satan is right there to hinder us. God helped Mary to follow through with her decision by remembering His word through the angel's message. This is the key to a successful life of faith, remembering God’s word. For God works when we hold on to his word. When we are in a spiritual crisis, it’s important to remember God's word.

Finally Mary reached Elizabeth’s house. When Elizabeth saw Mary she was filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. Even her baby was happy to be around Mary. In her joy Elizabeth could not help herself and greeted her niece warmly. What is amazing, is that Mary didn’t say a word about her situation but her aunt knew what was going on. Through her words we can see that she was led by the Holy spirit. Look at verses 42 &45. "In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" It seems funny that an old woman would treat a young girl in such a humble way. In a difficult time Elizabeth was a great encouragement to Mary. It was through Elizabeth’s counseling that Mary was convinced that to become the mother of Jesus was a good thing. For she was favored by God above all other women and her child was destined for God’s mightiest praise. Because of Elizabeth’s good influence, Mary was strengthened.

 
Through this, Mary finally realizes the magnitude of what has happened to her and how God was working in her life. Take a look at Mary’s response v46&47. "And Mary said: 'My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" When Gabriel first said to her, "You will be with child," she was afraid. But now she was overflowing with joy. When God's message was confirmed by Elizabeth, Mary burst into songs of praise and her spirit rejoiced in God.

Look at verse 48. "for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed," Through this verse we can see Mary’s thankful heart to God. Mary wondered why God's eyes had fallen on her and gave her this special privilege. Ultimately Mary was happy that God picked her to be the mother of Jesus. Everyone likes to be chosen, to be need and appreciated. But to be picked by God, what could be better? At the present Mary would become the mother of Jesus, and be relatively unknown but later on she will be known down through the generations. And it has come true. We hear about how much people love Mary. So much so they see her picture everywhere, on building, on grilled cheese sandwiches, even on the wall of a viaduct on I90/94 where people set up a shrine to her. Mary is loved by so many people of all nations, she has become the most blessed woman.

Look at verses 49-50. "for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation." The Mighty One refers to the Creator God who rules history. Usually a “mighty one” will not extend mercy, but extends their power so that they can rule over others and get what they want. But our Mighty God used his power to show his love to generation after generation by sending his one and only Son Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins. Look at verses 54-55. "He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers." In the last part of her song, Mary was overwhelmed by the faithfulness of God who kept his promises spoken through his servants. Mary was thankful for the faithfulness of God, even though his people had been unfaithful. Because of their unfaithfulness, God did not have to keep his promise, but he kept his promise by sending his Son as the Savior of the world. Because of God’s faithfulness, Mary really felt loved by Him. And His love made her so happy. During this Christmas time let’s remember what God has done for us, on a personal level. To see the birth of Christ as God’s expression of His for us. When we realize this, we are filled with joy like Mary.

  1. Zechariah’s song (57-80)

Mary stayed with her aunt for the remaining 3 months of her pregnancy. When it was time for Elizabeth to have the baby, she gave birth to a son. According to Jewish custom, on the eighth day, they came to circumcise the baby. At the circumcision ceremony they dedicated the boy's life to God and named him. That is when a dispute arose. The family members wanted to follow tradition and name the baby after his father, but Elizabeth wanted to name him John following what the angel said. This is the funny part, the family starts making signs to Zechariah to find out what he thinks. Why were they making signs, he wasn’t deaf? He just couldn’t speak. Zechariah asked for a piece of paper and wrote, "His name is John." (63) Like Mary, this was Zechariah’s act of faith. This might be a little hard for us to understand but for them it was not easy to obey God's word through the angel. In order to follow God's, Zechariah had to ignore family tradition and his human desire to call him "Little Zack." When Zechariah followed through on his decision of faith and dedicated his son to God, his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. (64) The relatives and neighbors were filled with awe and people throughout Judea were wondering what is going on asking, "What then is this child going to be? For the Lord's hand was with him." (66) It’s amazing to see how God works when people keep their life of faith. God's mighty hand was with them.

Although it was the birth of his son, Zechariah's song was more about Jesus than his son John. In his song, Zechariah praised God who sent his one and only Son as he had promised. And we could learn a little more about who Jesus is. Look at verses 67,68. "His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: 'Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.'" For the previous 300 years, God had been silent for no word was given through the prophets. It was not easy to believe in God because of their dark situation. With the prophets quiet and the heavy Roman oppression, the people despaired in hopelessness. But now, the promised Messiah was about to be born--the one whom Zechariah and other devout people longed for. Zechariah was caught in the moment as he realized that God's promises about the Messiah were about to be fulfilled and he began to praise God. In verse 68 Zechariah acknowledged that the coming baby was God himself, coming to them. The Creator of the heavens and the earth was coming to them. The people of Israel were God’s chosen people. He said they were his treasured possession. Yet, his people did not thank God for all the privileges he had given them. Instead they disobeyed his words. Finally, they abandoned God. God didn’t have to visit them, but in his great mercy he did. Why? It was to redeem them. In fact Zechariah says it in past tense, as if it already happened. To redeem has the meaning to buy back, as if they had been sold into slavery and he bought them back.

The purpose of Jesus’ coming was to buy back God’s people who were in bondage to slavery to their sins. This was not going to be easy because slave masters, like Satan, do not want to give up their slaves very easily. So how was he going to do it? Let's read verse 69. "He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David." In the Bible, there are two kinds of horns: one is the horn of salvation, and the other, the horn of Satan. The horn of salvation is the symbol of the glory and power of God. (Dt 33:17; Ps 148:14; 1Sa 2:1,10; 2Sa 22:3; Rev 5:6) While the horn of Satan is the power of sin and death. (Da 7:21; Rev 12:3; 13:1) Jesus came to this world as the horn of salvation to destroy the horn of Satan and free those in bondage.

What the people of Israel needed was salvation from their enemies. They had suffered as a slave people for 400 years under the cruel rule of Egypt. After the Exodus, they lived in the promised land but they were under the constant threat and fear of their enemies. During Zechariah’s time they were oppressed by Rome and even in modern time they are harasses but Muslim nations. The people thought that the countries who were harassing them were their enemies. But what they failed to realize was that their real enemy was Satan. The cleverness of Satan is very deceptive, for it is said that he has seven heads while man has only one head. (Rev 17:3) That’s like being out numbered 7 to 1, only worse because all 7 know what each of them are thinking all the time. The power of Satan is mostly destructive for God builds and Satan destroys. It is said that among Satan’s 7 heads he has 10 horns. Compare that to man which have no horns at all there is no way man can compete with Satan. We just don’t have a chance going it alone. Most people think that they suffer because of their problems. Whether it is a financial problem, family problem, or job problem. But the truth of the matter is, we all suffer because of Satan. We suffer at the horn of Satan. And this horn is fearsome to all mankind for when someone is impaled, they are left in critical condition the rest of their life. I know a guy who was impaled by the horn of Satan, when Satan attacked him through temptation and led him astray until he committed adultery. After this his family was destroyed and he lived in misery for a long time. His relationship with his children was badly damaged and he was like the walking dead. Howard Stern, a famous radio DJ, signed a multi-million dollar contract with Sirus Radio. He should be happy but he is not. He recently confessed that he has not bee happy for a long time and he goes to therapy two times a week. This is the effects of the horn of Satan. Those who are impaled by the horn of Satan are deeply wounded. Satan is very deceptive and has caused many to fall. When we hear the news, it seems that the world is full of bad people. From the deceiving CEOs who are full of greed to the co-workers at work who steal from the company, or classmates who cheat. We are tempted to blame them, but they are not our enemies. Satan is our enemy and he has impaled them with his horn. But thank God that he did not leave us defenseless against a terrible enemy, for he has raised up a horn of salvation for us and crushed the horn of Satan. Praise God that he rescues us from the horn of Satan.

Why did God save us from the horn of Satan? The answer can be found in verses 74&75 let’s read them. "...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." God rescues us from our enemy and saves us from the horn of Satan so that we might SERVE GOD without fearin holiness and righteousness all our days. Many people are we afraid to serve God, why? Fear is a weapon of the horn of Satan. And we fear being humiliated, or being rejected, or isolated. No one likes to live in fear. But thank God who sent Jesus as the horn of salvation so that we don’t have to be afraid any more. Not only that he made us holy and righteous. What this means is that through Jesus we are not a part of the world but set apart and made acceptable and pleasing to God.

When we serve God without fear in holiness and righteousness we are really happy. God doess this when we have the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins. Look at verse 77. "...to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins..." People live under condemnation and guilt because of their sins. I always remember Lady Macbeth who was tormented by guilt and thought her hand was forever stained with blood because of murder. Kurt Cobain, Vincent van Gogh, Sigmund Freud, Ernest Hemingway, and even my uncle all committed suicide because of the guilt and condemnation of sin. This is an effect of the horn os Satan. A physically sick person can be cured by medicine, but what can cure a spiritually sick person, who suffers under guilt? Only Jesus saves us through the forgiveness of sins.

Why do people drown themselves in alcohol or numb themselves drugs? It is because they are wounded by the horn of Satan and want to get away. I heard a story from an 8th grade PE teacher. Of the 18 kids on his basketball team, only 1 had a father. How tragic is that. These young men are destined to repeat history. But this teacher has a heart for them and prays for them, mentors them, and shares Jesus with them. He truly has a heart for them. He wants them to know Jesus the horn of salvation, who rescues us from the hand of Satan. Martin Luther suffered under the horn of Satan because of fear. But Jesus the horn of salvation saved him while he studied Romans. The words “the righteous will live by faith” set him free from condemnation and guilt and his life was forever changed. Even our own M. Deborah Kim suffered at the horn of Satan because of an inferiority complex as the shortest member of her family and the youngest. She thought that she was no good but through Genesis 1:31. The words, “God saw all that he made was very good” set her free from Satan’s condemnation and she was save by Jesus the horn of salvation. And when her husband, my friend, died leaving her alone with 2 children 2 years old and younger, she must have been afraid. She must have been afraid wondering how she would provide for her and her children in the future. But because she of Jesus, her horn of salvation, she had the strength and spirit to fight on and she won the victory. Praise God for Jesus, the horn of salvation who saves us from the horn of Satan. During this Christmas time, I pray that we may remember all that the Lord has done for us and to receive the baby Jesus as our horn of salvation. May God bless you when you have Jesus the horn of salvation in your soul.

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