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Luke 1:76

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And thou, child, etc. - Zacharias proclaims the dignity, employment, doctrine, and success of his son; and the ruin and recovery of the Jews and the Gentiles.

  1. His dignity. Thou shalt be called (constituted) a prophet of the Most High. Prophet has two acceptations: -

1st. A person who foretells future events; and;

2dly. A teacher of men in the things of God, 1 Corinthians 14:3.

    John was a prophet in both senses: he proclaimed the mercy which should be communicated; announced the baptism of the Holy Spirit; and taught men how to leave their sins, and how to find the salvation of God. See Luke 3:5-14. His very name, Jehochanan, the grace or mercy of Jehovah, (see Luke 1:60;), was a constant prediction of the salvation of God. Our Lord terms him the greatest prophet which had ever appeared in the world. He had the honor of being the last and clearest prophet of the old covenant, and the first of the new.

  1. His employment. Thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways. He should be the immediate forerunner of Jesus Christ, none being capable of succeeding him in his ministry but Christ himself. He was to prepare his ways, to be the honored instrument, in the hands of God, of disposing the hearts of multitudes of the Israelites to believe in and follow the Lord Jesus.
  2. Zacharias points out the doctrine or teaching of John. It should be γνωσις σωτηριας, the science of salvation. Men are ignorant, and they must be instructed. Human sciences may be profitable in earthly matters, but cannot profit the soul. The science that teaches God must come from God. No science is of any avail to the soul that does not bring salvation with it: this is the excellence of heavenly science, and an excellence that is peculiar to itself. No science but that which comes from God can ever save a soul from the power, the guilt, and the pollution of sin.
  3. Zacharias predicts the success of his son's ministry. Under his preaching, the people should be directed to that tender mercy of God, through which they might obtain the remission of their sins, Luke 1:77, Luke 1:78. Those who are sent by God, and preach his truth, and his only, shall always be successful in their work; for it is for this very purpose that God has sent them; and it would be a marvelous thing, indeed, should they labor in vain. But there never was such a case, since God made man, in which a preacher was Divinely commissioned to preach Jesus and his salvation, and yet had no fruit of his labor.
  4. Zacharias points out the wretched state in which the inhabitants of Judea and the Gentile world were then found.
  • Their feet had wandered out of the way of peace, ( Luke 1:79;), of temporal and spiritual prosperity.
  • They had got into a state of darkness - they were blind concerning the things of God, and the things which belonged to their salvation.
  • They had become contented inhabitants of this land of intellectual darkness - they had sat down in it, and were not concerned to get out of it.
  • They were about to perish in it - death had his dominion there; and his swift approaches to them were now manifested to the prophet by seeing his shadow cast upon them.
  • Ignorance of God and salvation is the shadow of death; and the substance, eternal ruin, is essentially connected with the projected shadow. See these phrases explained at large on Matthew 4:16; (note).

    6. Zacharias proclaims the recovery of a lost world. As the removal of this darkness, and redemption from this death, were now at hand, John is represented as being a day-spring from on high, a morning star, that foretold the speedy approach of the day, and the rising of the Sun of righteousness. That these words should be applied to John, and not to Christ, I am fully satisfied; and cannot give my reasons better for the arrangement I have made in the preceding notes, than in the words of an eminent critic, who, I find, has adopted nearly the same plan with myself. The passage, as I read it, is as follows: Through the tender mercy of our God, by which he hath visited us: a day-spring from on high, to give light to them that sit in the darkness and in the shadow of death, etc. "Let the reader judge, whether my arrangement of this passage, which much better suits the original, be not far more elegant, and in all respects superior to the old translation. Thou, child! wilt be a teacher - Thou Wilt Be a day-spring from the sky. And with what beauty and propriety is John, the forerunner of our Lord, styled the dawn of day, that ushers in the rising of the Sun of righteousness! And the concluding words - to guide our feet into the way of peace - is a comprehensive clause, after the manner of Hebrew poetry, belonging equally to the former sentence, beginning at - And thou, child! - and the latter, beginning at - A day-spring from the sky: for the people spoken of in the former are the Jews; and in the latter, the Gentiles." - Wakefield.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    And thou, child … - Zechariah predicts in this and the following verses the dignity, the employment, and the success of John. He declares what would be the subject of his preaching, and what his success.

    Prophet of the Highest - Prophet of God; a prophet “appointed by God” to declare his will, and to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.

    The face of the Lord - The Lord Jesus, the Messiah, that was about to appear. To go before “the face of one” is the same as to go immediately before one, or to be immediately followed by another.

    To prepare his ways - This is taken from Isaiah 40:3. See the Matthew 3:3 niote, and Isaiah 40:3 note.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Zacharias uttered a prophecy concerning the kingdom and salvation of the Messiah. The gospel brings light with it; in it the day dawns. In John the Baptist it began to break, and increased apace to the perfect day. The gospel is discovering; it shows that about which we were utterly in the dark; it is to give light to those that sit in darkness, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. It is reviving; it brings light to those that sit in the shadow of death, as condemned prisoners in the dungeon. It is directing; it is to guide our feet in the way of peace, into that way which will bring us to peace at last, Ro 3:17. John gave proofs of strong faith, vigorous and holy affections, and of being above the fear and love of the world. Thus he ripened for usefulness; but he lived a retired life, till he came forward openly as the forerunner of the Messiah. Let us follow peace with all men, as well as seek peace with God and our own consciences. And if it be the will of God that we live unknown to the world, still let us diligently seek to grow strong in the grace of Jesus Christ.
    Ellen G. White
    Selected Messages Book 2, 147-8

    [Appeared in Notebook Leaflets, Methods, No. 1.]

    We are living in the last days of this earth's history, and we may be surprised at nothing in the line of apostasies and denials of the truth. Unbelief has now come to be a fine art which men work at to the destruction of their souls. There is constant danger of there being shams in pulpit preachers, whose lives contradict the words they speak; but the voice of warning and of admonition will be heard as long as time shall last; and those who are guilty of transactions that should never be entered into, when reproved or counseled through the Lord's appointed agencies, will resist the message and refuse to be corrected. They will go on as did Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar, until the Lord takes away their reason, and their hearts become unimpressible. The Lord's word will come to them; but if they choose not to hear it, the Lord will make them responsible for their own ruin. 2SM 147.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Fundamentals of Christian Education, 448

    Simeon said of Christ, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.” “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Jesus and John were represented by the educators of that day as ignorant, because they had not learned under them. But the God of heaven was their teacher, and all who heard were astonished at their knowledge of the Scripture, having never learned. Of them, they had not, truly; but from God they had learned the highest kind of wisdom. FE 448.1

    The judgment of men, even of teachers, may be very wide of the mark as to what constitutes true education. The teachers in the days of Christ did not educate the youth in the correct knowledge of the Scriptures, which lie at the foundation of all education worthy of the name. Christ declared to the Pharisees, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God,” “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” And He prayed for His disciples, “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth. As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” FE 448.2

    “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.” “Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.” Has Satan succeeded in removing the sanctity from the day thus distinguished above all others? He has succeeded in putting another day in its stead, but never can he take from it the blessing of the Lord. “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” What can be more positive and clear than these words? And has God changed? He will remain the same through all eternity, but man “has sought out many inventions.” FE 449.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 445

    What was it that made John the Baptist great? He closed his mind to the mass of tradition presented by the teachers of the Jewish nation, and opened it to the wisdom which comes from above. Before his birth the Holy Spirit testified of John: “He shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.... And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:15-17. CT 445.1

    In his prophecy Zacharias said of John, “Thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” And Luke adds, “The child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.” Luke 1:76-80. CT 445.2

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    Ellen G. White
    The Desire of Ages, 144

    This chapter is based on John 2:1-11.

    Jesus did not begin His ministry by some great work before the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem. At a household gathering in a little Galilean village His power was put forth to add to the joy of a wedding feast. Thus He showed His sympathy with men, and His desire to minister to their happiness. In the wilderness of temptation He Himself had drunk the cup of woe. He came forth to give to men the cup of blessing, by His benediction to hallow the relations of human life. DA 144.1

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