A Walk through the Book of Luke
February 28, 2023
Worship and Bible study, Zechariah’s Song
I’m not really big into quoting statistics. But did you know only 48% of American attend church services regularly (Barna Group)? Looking at Barna’s statistics for the last 10 years or so, that number has never exceeded 50%, but by a few percentage points. The numbers of those who read the Bible daily are much lower. According to Christianity Today, only 11% of Americans read the Bible daily. (https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2022/april/state-of-bible-reading-decline-report-26-million.html)
As a follower of Christ, I believe that Worship and Bible study go hand in hand. Therefore, attending Worship regularly is essential. There, we commune with God and others, but it’s not the best place for interaction with fellow Christians.
Sure, there are many fun events at church, like meals and family nights. But the combination of Worship and Bible study gives us an interaction with God/Christ and others. In church, we worship, but other than reciting prayers and songs, there’s very little interaction.
In Bible study, we experience in-depth learning about God’s Plan, our Savior Jesus, and how the Holy Spirit lives within us. We also share our thoughts and prayers with others.
You’re probably asking, “Why is Joe talking about Worship and Bible study in a devotion about Zechariah’s Song? Well, I think I can answer that question for you.
Zechariah’s song is broken up into two parts. The first part is praise and Worship for the Lord. The second part is a great study concerning Zechariah’s son, John. It discusses what John will be called and how he will share the knowledge of salvation. And how John will offer a baptism of forgiveness. It also tells how he, John, will prepare the way for the Lord, Jesus.
Let’s look at the Luke reading and see if you can pick up on this passage’s Worship and Bible study separation.
“And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
“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
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.”
The Song of Zechariah actually gets its name from the Latin “Benedictus Dominus”; the NIV translates it as: “Praise to the Lord.” So, yes, the Lord is praised as in Worship throughout this passage, but especially in verses 67-75.
Verse 67 says explicitly that Zechariah “Was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied.”
So, not only did Zechariah praise the Lord for the birth of his son, but also for all the things He would do in the future, including how He would use John.
Verses 76-80 is a prophecy of the great things Zechariah’s son, John, will do as a forerunner of Jesus.
Zechariah prophesies that John will be called a great prophet and will prepare the way for the Lord (Jesus) vs. 76. He will give the people knowledge of salvation and offer forgiveness through the waters of baptism. Zechariah also intertwines the coming of Jesus, who will shine on those living in darkness.
Finally, the writer Luke says,
“And the child grew and because strong in spirit, and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.”
John had much more than physical growth; he also grew spiritually. He had a hard-arduous road ahead of him. Not unlike Jesus, John spent time in the wilderness. This would toughen him up for the task ahead. John had a significant job in God’s plan for salvation. He would spread the word and prepare the people for Jesus’ coming onto the scene.
Worship and Bible study. This is how I see these passages. In a few days, I’ll post a Bible study that will highlight and give you time for thought, ponderance, and discussion of these passages.