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Having The True Spirit Of Christmas

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.” — Luke 1:68-69

White lights delicately outlining the shapes of palm trees. Bright red bows tied around stately saguaro cacti. Temperatures dipping down into the upper 50’s. It certainly feels like Christmas in Phoenix!

Perhaps the indications in your town are somewhat different, but on the local news reports in many cities there are stories about the “true spirit of Christmas.” Most are about assisting the needy. A charitable act is a fine thing–but is that what Christmas is all about?

Refreshingly different is the story of Zacharias who really did have the true spirit of Christmas!

Nine months was a long time to be silent. We can well imagine Zacharias opening his mouth to say something to his wife, only to remember that he was unable to make a peep. His muteness was the result of doubting the Word of the Lord spoken to him by the angel.

Yet in every chastisement there is a blessing. Every time he would open his mouth to speak–and recall he could not–it would remind him he wasn’t going to die childless.

More than that, as foretold in the Scriptures, he was going to be the father of a son who would grow up to “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Zacharias could read through portions of Isaiah and Malachi and think: “That’s my boy!”

We can imagine how delighted he was when his son was born. Yet when Zacharias was granted the ability to speak on the eighth day after John’s birth, he revealed that there was something else that gave him an even greater thrill–God was keeping His promise to send a Savior!

As Foretold By The Prophets!

He begins: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people.” Up to this time the Lord had been visiting His people primarily through the word of His prophets. What the prophets had foretold was now beginning to unfold.

“And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David . . . .” The symbol of the horn denoted strength and the ability to turn away enemies. A horn could also be filled with oil and used to anoint someone. We may also think of the horns on either side of the altar for burnt offerings which provided sanctuary from vengeance if one were to grasp them.

All of these fit the concept of the “horn of salvation” which the Lord would raise up three months later in Bethlehem and be found lying in a manger. Jesus would rise up to turn away the enemies of His people, for He was the One anointed from eternity to accomplish this salvation.

By holding fast to the “horn of salvation,” the believer is safe from the accusations of the Law and eternal vengeance.

With the birth of John, God demonstrated in a tangible way that He remembered and was performing the holy covenant which He had made with His people through the word of His holy prophets from long ago.

The love and mercy of God are at the heart of this covenant: Christ is coming to die so that you can live!

Once again this Christmas season the world will be attempting to divert our attention from the “dayspring from on high” to things mundane and devoid of the genuine meaning of the season.

As the first Christmas drew near, the Holy Spirit centered the thoughts of Zacharias on the true spirit and joy of Christmas. May He do the same for us this Christmas.

–Pastor Delwyn Maas