Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Zechariah’s Hymn, Day 4

Leslie Basham: Here's Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth describing the Baby we celebrate at Christmas.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: A mighty Savior, a mighty God who is stronger than all our enemies, stronger than Satan, stronger than sin. He can deliver me. He has brought into this world a strong and mighty salvation.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Thursday, December 17, 2015.

A baby is a picture of dependence and helplessness. The baby born on the first Christmas, though, was a mighty warrior, invading a dark world. Nancy will help us recognize the power this baby held as she continues in a series called "Zechariah's Hymn."

Nancy: We're looking this week at Luke chapter 1, Zechariah's hymn of praise, beginning in verse 67 through the end of that chapter. The context here, for those of you who may have missed the first few days, is that the family of Zechariah—Zechariah and Elizabeth now being old folk and past child-bearing years, but God has miraculously intervened, has given them a son. His name is John.

This child has been long prayed for, long-awaited, is an incredible gift—and the family has gathered together on day eight. The child has been circumcised and named, and they're having a celebration to welcome this child into the world.

But when Zechariah opens his mouth to speak, after nine months of not being able to say a word—because, you remember, he doubted the angel's word when the angel said, “You're going to have a son,” so he had been struck deaf and dumb for those nine months.

So finally, day eight after the baby's birth, Zechariah opens his mouth. And when he does, he hardly says a word at all about his son, John, who is the center of attention at this party. But Zechariah has somebody else at the center of his mind and his thoughts.

It's like—here is this son, John, but the One I want to really introduce to you is Jesus Christ. John has just come to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. He's just come to shine a light on Christ. The spotlight is on Christ, and all Zechariah can talk about in this passage is Jesus. It's as if he says, “And here's John to tell you about Him.”

That's why John came into the world, not to promote himself, not to promote his own message or ministry or mission, but to promote the mission and the message of Jesus Christ, which, by the way, is my longing and burden for Revive Our Hearts.

I hope this will never be Nancy Leigh DeMoss Ministries. Our purpose is not to shine the light on me or on any human being or on our organization but always to shine the spotlight on Jesus Christ. We're just here to tell you about Him.

You can forget my name, and people do write our ministry sometimes and come up with real strange variations on my name. That's okay. We want you to remember the name of Jesus and have met with Him as a result of your exposure to this ministry.

So we read in Luke chapter 1, verse 67, that his father, John's father, “Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit.” He prophesies saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.” Now we've looked at the word redemption, the concept of redemption, in the last session. In verse 69 we come to another closely-related word. Really, this word is the theme of this hymn and of all of Scripture.

Look with me at verse 69. “God . . . has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.” And that word reappears. It's three times in different forms in this passage. Look at verse 71. God sent Him, “That we should be saved from our enemies.” And then verse 76, “You, [John], . . . will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins.”

Salvation—that we should be saved! God came and visited this earth to redeem us so that we might be saved, that we might have salvation. God has raised up a horn of salvation for us. Now there are a lot of people in the world today, the majority of the human race, who have no familiarity at all with those words and have no clue about what those words mean. If they heard about being saved or having salvation or being redeemed, that would be something they have no knowledge of at all.

As a result, there are some who say that we should avoid using those words today, in a post-modern culture, when we're speaking to un-churched people. I don't happen to agree with that. I think it's important that we explain those words, but these are rich words that our world needs to know. They need to understand what it means to be saved—salvation, redemption.

Now, throughout this passage Zechariah uses several rich word pictures to describe the salvation that we have in Jesus Christ. We'll look at those as we go through this series, but let me just point them out to you quickly.

In verse 68 you see that salvation is redemption. It's deliverance, release, purchase from slavery. In verse 74 you see that it's deliverance from danger. That describes our salvation. In verse 77 you see that salvation is painted as forgiveness of a debt—forgiven of a debt that we owed. Then in verses 78 and 79 salvation is pictured as the dawning of a new day. These words are just trying to paint for us a picture of what is involved in our salvation.

I want to look today at verse 69. A phrase in that verse that has become really precious to me as I have studied this passage in recent weeks. “God . . . has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us,” a horn of salvation for us, “in the house of his servant David.”

Now, before we look at what the horn of salvation is, just look at that phrase, “In the house of his servant David.” What tribe was David from? Remember? The tribe of Judah. Zechariah and Elizabeth—Zechariah who's saying these words, and he's looking at his eight-day-old son, John. Zechariah was a priest, so what tribe would he have been from? The tribe of Levi. So Zechariah, obviously, is not talking about his son, his own son, who is eight days old and is the center of attention at this party.

Zechariah is talking about someone else, someone who came through the house of David, the lineage of David. Of course, he's talking about the Lord Jesus, who, six months later, would be born to Mary, the virgin—Mary and Joseph of the house and lineage of David. So from the outset he is shining the spotlight on Christ, who is the horn of salvation, raised up in the house of David, the house of Judah.

Now when we say “horn of salvation”—the word horn—I don't know what comes to your mind. You may envision, perhaps, a musical instrument, a horn. Or you may envision a cornucopia. That horn of plenty that we sometimes see at Thanksgiving, and it's got flowers or fruit or something in it, and it's a picture of abundance and overflowing.

Neither of those is what Zechariah is talking about here. As you see this term horn and “the horn of salvation” in the Scripture, it's really a picture of the horns of a powerful beast, a beast that has a horn or horns, like a wild ox or a bull. The horns of that wild animal are used as a weapon to attack enemies and to protect themselves from enemies. The horns are a symbol of power, a symbol of strength. They're used in battle.

One of my favorite vacation places in this country is Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I love to go out there and see the wildlife. I'll go with some friends, and we'll just take drives at dusk or early in the morning to try and see some wildlife. Sometimes you'll come across a whole field full of buffalo or bison, I guess, properly called.

Those bison usually appear to be docile, disinterested, just heads down toward the ground. And you think, oh, you could just walk up to this bison and pet it. I mean, you don't, but you feel like they just seem to be non-threatening. But you always see where there are wildlife of that nature, or moose, for example, you'll see these signs with big warnings telling you not to get within 100 yards of these animals.

People like me who want to go up and take close-up pictures or whatever, we don't like those signs, but those signs are there for a reason because the bison and the moose are very protective of their young. Those bison can accelerate up to thirty-five miles per hour almost instantly. They've been known to charge without warning. They've been known to gore people with their horns and to throw them yards into the air, so, hence the signs; stay away!

Those horns are a symbol of power. They're a powerful weapon. Those horns are used—that image is used—in the Old Testament for a warrior or for a king who saves his people. He delivers his people from the enemy.

In the Scripture they have become a symbol of God's strength, God's power, God's salvation. They're often used in Scripture—the concept of horns—as a picture of God's ability to save; God's ability to deliver—God's power. God's strength in salvation.

Let me read you a couple of verses that give you that sense. First Samuel chapter 2, verse 10, “The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth. 'He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed'” (NKJV).

Second Samuel chapter 22, verse 2, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.” Verse 3, He is “my shield,” that's defense, and He is “the horn of my salvation” (NKJV). That's offense. That's God on the charge; God going after His enemies in order to protect and deliver and rescue His people.

So under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Zechariah recognizes that Jesus, six months from now to be born, is a powerful Savior and King. We need one because sin is powerful. Satan is powerful.

I don't know about you, but sometimes when I'm doing battle against sin or against temptation . . . I experienced this within the last week in a pretty intense way. Just a period of hours of just being bombarded with temptation to—not to go out and do some huge sin, but to give in to thoughts and emotions that I knew were not from the Lord. It just felt so powerful.

I've talked with people recently who are dealing with powerful addictions—addiction to pornography, addiction to crystal meth, addiction to some less-obvious things such as pride and lust and selfishness and fear and discouragement. Those things feel so powerful.

They are powerful, and that's why I am so thankful that at Christmas we celebrate the coming to earth of God's horn of salvation, a mighty Savior, a mighty God who is stronger than all our enemies, stronger than Satan, stronger than sin. He can deliver me. He has brought into this world a strong and mighty salvation.

Nothing can stand against this horn. He can root out every evil. He is the one on the attack, never on the defensive. He's the One who deals with our archenemy. No one can defeat Him. Nothing can defeat Him. God has raised up for us the horn of salvation.

Now sometimes we look around, look within our own hearts, we see the strength of sin, indwelling sin, the corruption within. Then we look around at a very fallen, prodigal, sinful world. I mean, here we are in the Christmas season, and people, in most cases, there's nothing further from their minds than God.

They're so wrapped up in this world's system, so wrapped up in self, so consumed with temporal things. Then you look at . . . Just check the news, if you dare, and see the atrocities, the terror, the war, the famine, the genocide, the things going on in various parts of the world, the false religions that seem so powerful and seem to be like a tsunami taking over our world, encroaching on even parts of the world that would not have been exposed to those religions before.

Sometimes as you see this flood of wickedness and flood of false teaching and flood of corruption in our world, then you look at yourself or the church of Jesus Christ today, and we seem so weak, so struggling, by comparison, so overwhelmed, so overpowered by the enemies around us. But let me remind you, we need to look at this from God's perspective.

The enemy may be strong, but our Savior is a horn of salvation who has not ever lost His power. The horn of salvation has not been broken. Our Savior, our salvation, our horn of salvation is as powerful as ever; and God is in the process in this broken, fallen, corrupt world, of redeeming, visiting, saving, making all things new, and He does it by means of Christ, the horn of salvation.

Zechariah says, “God . . . has visited and redeemed his people” (Luke 1:68). The Redeemer has come to the earth. He not only was born, but He lived a sinless life. Then He died on the cross, paying the price to redeem us from God's justice, with power delivering us from Satan's clutches.

Payment has been made. We have been liberated. Satan no longer has us under his control. He's not the one giving the orders. He's not in command. The horn of salvation is in command.

You see this concept expanded in various ways through the New Testament. I love some of these verses. For example, 1 John chapter 3, verse 8 says that the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the Devil.

Now you remember that the next time Satan comes after you and you're tempted. You're tempted to give in to thoughts and emotions and actions and words that you know are not of the Holy Spirit—you know are not godly—but you're feeling this battle between the Spirit and the flesh going on in your heart, and you're thinking, I am so weak!

Yes, we are weak, but He is strong. Remind yourself that the reason Jesus appeared was to destroy the works of the Devil. "Satan, you don't have any power here. The horn of salvation comes against you." He came to destroy, to render ineffective, the works of the Devil.

Hebrews 2, verse 14 says that through death, Christ destroyed “the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” Destroyed—now he's still on the scene. He's still lurking. He's still seeking to devour us, but he's a toothless foe.

I think of that passage in Pilgrim's Progress where Christian, on his way to the Celestial City, comes against Apollyon, this great big lion. He's growling, and he's roaring, and he's threatening. But what Christian doesn't realize at first is that he's chained. He can only go so far. Jesus came to render him powerless. It's the horn of salvation who does that for us.

Pastor John Piper preached a powerful message on this text to his congregation one Christmas, and let me read to you what he said in closing—that text, as it reflected on Satan, the adversary, the Devil, who growls and who roars and who seeks to devour us.

John Piper said, 

Satan may be a roaring lion seeking someone to devour, but none of those who take refuge in Christ, the horn of our salvation, can he destroy. If I were an artist, I would paint for my home a special Christmas painting this year and hang it on the wall near the manger scene.

It would be one of those big, oil canvases. The scene would be of a distant hill at dawn. The sun is about to rise behind the hill, and the rays shoot up and out of the picture. And all alone, silhouetted on the hill, in the center of the picture, very dark, is a magnificent, wild ox, standing with his back seven feet tall, and the crown of his head nine feet tall.

On both sides of his head there is a horn curving out and up, six feet long and twelve inches thick at the base. He stands there, sovereign and serene, facing the southern sky with his massive neck slightly cocked. And impaled at the end of his right horn hangs a huge lion, dead.

Now I don't know if I'd want that picture in my living room, but I love that picture. “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”—a mighty horn, a powerful horn, a mighty Savior, a powerful Savior, for whom Satan and all his imps are no match and against whom this horn of salvation, all the corruption of your heart and mine, is no match.

In His presence all must bow. All must worship. All evil, all sin will be overcome, overpowered by Christ, the horn of our salvation.

So when you see all those pretty pictures at Christmas of the little baby in the manger and you set out your crèche in your home, as I do in mine, with the little baby in the manger and the little pieces of straw around, however you do it, just remember that the One lying in that manger is a horn of salvation. He's a mighty God, a mighty Savior.

Lord, we worship You. We magnify You. You are great. You are powerful. You are more powerful than our circumstances, our emotions, our struggles, our temptations. You are more powerful than sin. You're more powerful than Satan. You are more powerful than false religions. You are more powerful than all the evil and the corruption in this world and in our own hearts.

So we come to You, and we worship. O come let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord, the mighty horn of our salvation, amen.

Leslie: When you unwrap your nativity scene this year and set the baby in the manger, you're looking at a powerful, mighty Savior. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been helping us understand the main character of the Christmas story. The Savior who was born in the manger is still alive and still has the power to save and transform lives.

We hear from women all the time who are being set free from sin and destructive patterns. We're thankful God is choosing to use Revive Our Hearts to help women find freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. Our listeners are a crucial part of fulfilling this mission.

As we've been telling you, when you support Revive Our Hearts this month, your gift will be doubled by some friend of the ministry who share in this mission. So, Nancy, who are these mysterious “friends of the ministry”?

Nancy: Well there’s nothing really mysterious about it. They’re women or couples who have benefitted from Revive Our Hearts. They see how God’s used it in their lives. And they want to help the ministry continue and grow. These are people who believe in investing what God’s given them. They realize the money God puts in their hands isn’t theirs. They want to multiply it for His use. So they get joy in encouraging others to give. They get joy when you give. So they've agreed to match your gift, up to this matching challenge of $820,000. These “friends of the ministry” have invited you to give. Now it’s your turn. Would you partner with them to meet this ministry's needs "for such a time as this"?

In order to keep current ministries going and to begin responding to the huge opportunities around the world the Lord is opening up, we need to not only meet this challenge, we need to then exceed it. To make your year-end donation, visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or give us a call at 1–800–569–5959.

I want to thank you for being a dear friend of this ministry through your prayers and your support "for such a time as this."

Leslie: The term saved is used so often that we can forget what it means. Get a fresh perspective on the importance of salvation.

Nancy: You can't have salvation without a Savior. You can't have redemption without a Redeemer. The nature of our distress spiritually is such that there is no way that we can save ourselves. We cannot redeem ourselves. There is no one and nothing on this earth other than Christ Himself who can save and deliver us from our spiritual plight.

As you read through the Old Testament, the concept of redemption and salvation, God's always shown to be the only Savior, the only Deliverer of His people. Then in the New Testament, God steps down from heaven on to planet earth and takes on flesh—Immanuel—God with us. God has visited and redeemed His people. He didn't just do this long distance. He put on flesh, and He came down and was born, delivered in a manger. He grew up as a man to save us and deliver us. We see that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.

Leslie: That's tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture quotations from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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