Advent Devotion – December 11 – Bob Malsack

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.”

Luke 1:67-79

Scripture: Luke 1:67-79

What do you do when you hope for something? You pray for it. What do you do when you REALLY hope for something? You pray continually for it. What do you do if you hope for something beyond all else? You pray without ceasing even in spite of the circumstances.

Zechariah and Elizabeth had two primary hopes in life. They prayed continually for the Lord to bless them with a child.

They also held dear the Lord’s promise to send the Messiah who would set Israel free from all of which it was under the influence. God had been silent with no prophetic voice for three hundred years causing many to give up on the Messianic hope. But Zechariah and Elizabeth still believed the Lord would intervene on behalf of His people. They would not give up on the coming of the Messiah to save God’s people. They prayed without ceasing.

Then one day, as Zechariah was serving as high priest, the Lord spoke to him through an angel telling him his prayers have been heard and that he and Elizabeth would have a son who would become the prophetic voice that would inaugurate the fulfillment of the coming of the Messiah. Because of so many past disappointments about having a child, Zechariah guarded his heart and questioned how this could be.

As a sign of the validity of this promise, Zechariah would be mute until this comes to pass. Zechariah had nine months to be handicapped in speech to contemplate what the Lord had said. When the child was born, Zechariah now believed what was spoken to him and as instructed by the angel, he named the child John.

What happens when your greatest hope is realized? Your heart explodes with praise and affirmation of the glory of the Lord. Luke 1:67-79 is that explosion of joy from the heart of Zechariah. It is an affirmation of the faithfulness of the Lord throughout the history of Israel; it is the celebration of the Lord’s fulfilling promises made throughout time; it is a rallying call for all to remain confident in the Lord.

Luke 1:67-79, a.k.a. The Canticle of Zechariah, has historically been repeated daily as a part of morning prayer following the reading of scripture. It is an affirmation that all that has been promised by the Lord will come to pass. It proclaims the eternal hope of ‘the dawn breaking upon us to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” It is the affirmation of one who would not give up hope, who prayed without ceasing.

The Rev. Bob Malsack
Retired PC(USA) Minister

Bob and Marsha live in Arizona but worship with us when visiting their family in Lebanon.

Core Idea: Pray without ceasing.

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