72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
73 The oath which he swore to our father Abraham,
74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
1901 ASV Translation:
72 To show mercy towards, our fathers, And to remember his holy covenant;
73 The oath which he spake unto Abraham our father,
74 To grant unto us that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies Should serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
In verse 74, the Textus Receptus has both a definite article before "enemies" and the possessive pronoun "our" after "enemies; the Nestle/Aland 26 has neither. In verse 75 the Textus Receptus has "all the days of our life" where the Nestle/Aland 26 has "in all of our days". The overall meaning is unchanged, though the Textus Receptus tends toward emphasis upon our "life" which the Nestle/Aland 26 simply does not mention.
1. Zacharias is presented as being focused upon the aspect of the covenant that has to do with Yahweh's deliverance of His people from their enemies.
2. This focus, called "salvation", is specifically attached in 1:69 to the "horn of salvation" and is twice specifically identified as "salvation from our enemies" (1:71 and 1:74). It is deliberately tied to "the remission of sins" in 1:77 and is contrasted to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death whose feet will be placed upon the Highway of Peace.
I. The Particular Aspect of the Covenant Highlighted by the Spirit through Zacharias.
A. The Abrahamic Covenant consists of Three Major Promises and a host of lesser details.
1. The Three Major Promises are of a "land", a "nation", and a "great name".
2. These three promises are fundamental and, as such, have a host of implications that are corollary necessities...some of which are specifically stated and some of which are only implied by the nature of the fundamental commitments.
a. The difference between a stated corollary and an implied one can be illustrated by a comparison between what Zacharias said in our text and what Abraham said in Genesis 22:5.
1) What Zacharias said is directly related to Genesis 15:13 where Abram is told that his "developing nation" would be afflicted for 400+ years in a land "not theirs" before they were "delivered" from their enemies.
2) What Abraham said in Genesis 22:5 was "a necessary implication" of the "nation" promise. He had been promised a son from whom the nation would come. Then he had been told by God to sacrifice that son while in an unmarried, childless, condition. The promise and command appeared to be in complete contradiction, but Abraham was able to see a way for both to be legitimate (Hebrews 11:19) and so he said what he did in Genesis 22:5 because his return with his son alive was a necessary implication of the stated promise. His perception of a "way for both to be legitimate" turned out to be wrong (the resurrection of his son was unnecessary because the command to sacrifice him was short circuited at the last moment), but the fact is that some form of resolution was "necessitated" by the spoken promises.
b. The focus of Zacharias upon the deliverance from the enemies is not one of the three primary commitments Yahweh made, but it is an aspect of the final stages of the fulfillment of those commitments.
1) It is possible for there to be a partial accomplishment of the three main promises without there being a deliverance from the enemies.
2) It is impossible for there to be a full accomplishment of the three main promises without an ultimate deliverance from the enemies.
c. The ultimate realization of Zacharias' focus is still unfulfilled to this day, more than 2,000 years after he uttered the words by the Spirit.
1) Neither Israel, nor the Church, has been delivered from the enemies to this day.
2) Both Israel and the Church ought not to lose hope in the promise by reason of the delay in fulfillment because the hope is necessary to the realization of the specific promises and the hope is necessary to the daily ability of the people of God to function on the Highway of Peace.
B. The aspect of the covenant that is highlighted by the Spirit through Zacharias is that part which focuses upon a "setting in life" where there are no enemies.
1. This, though an unfulfilled aspect even to this day, is not an unnecessary focus.
a. This fact is: faith cannot survive in a hopeless state (consider Abram's failures of faith when he was focused upon his own inabilities to bring the promise to fruition).
b. This fact also is: hope that is seen is no longer hope (consider Paul's pointed statement of this fact in Romans 8:24 where he declares that our salvation is by hope).
c. Thus, this fact also is: the hope is a necessary focus while the program is developing.
2. This, though an unfulfilled aspect even to this day, is the reason for much of what is transpiring today.
a. Without the hope of the promise, the entire focus of vast numbers of people in the current world would be shifted from the present support of Israel's right to exist.
b. In a sense, Israel's presence in our current world is the root of an enormous amount of the activities that are going on by both "enemies" and "friends" of Israel.
3. This is going to be a fulfilled reality in this world at some point.
C. The bigger picture involved in Zacharias' focus: "...having been delivered, we might serve Yahweh without fear all of our days...".
1. There are two issues here...
a. The issue of "fear".
b. The issue of "serving Yahweh all of our days".
2. The "fear" issue has been a major thesis in all of Luke, chapter one.
a. The greatest "fear" is "the fear of Yahweh".
1) This can be a "fear" of displeasing Him.
2) This, however, can also be a "fear that, having displeased Him, He will function toward us as an enemy".
b. Then there is the "fear" of the "enemies".
1) This is Zacharias' focus as it seems to be a major reason for the breakdown of "serving Him all of our days".
2) What Zacharias is saying insists that there is a fundamental linkage between "fear" and the inability to "serve Yahweh".
3) This insistence raises the promise of security to the level of "the" main promise.
4) This brings us back to the "sworn covenant" -- Yahweh intends to impress His people with the absoluteness of their security before Him...
a) That they are no longer, and will never again be, in the position of "enemy" in respect to Him.
b) That the "sting" of the lesser enemies has been effectively destroyed.
c. Then there is the reality that the enemies can, yet, "destroy the body"...a not insignificant problem.
1) In respect to significant problems, the one crucial issue is that of the "degree of significance"...just how big of an issue is the problem?
2) In respect to the "size" of the enemies' continuing ability to make an impact, "faith" says that it has been reduced to a manageable level.
a) Resurrection pretty much makes death a non-problem.
b) Life in the City pretty much makes life in this world a non-desireable commodity.
c) But, both resurrection and life in the City are "articles of faith" that are, as yet, unseen hopes...thus, the focus upon hope.