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Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people . . .
The prophet Malachi foretold about John the Baptist, Jesus’ forerunner: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me” (Mal. 3:1). Isaiah had foretold the same: “A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God’” (Isa. 40:3). A forerunner would run ahead of a great dignitary, clearing the path and announcing his arrival.
When John was born, his father “was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied” (Luke 1:67). He started his prophecy with today’s verse: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people . . .” It’s stated in the past tense as though it already had happened. God’s plan and purpose cannot be frustrated—it will be fulfilled.
When we consider God, we consider the great I am. He’s not bound by time as we are. In that sense there’s no past, present, or future with Him, even though He interacts with us in time as we know it. The message of Christmas was as certain before the creation of the world as when Zechariah uttered these words. God came to redeem His people.
Redemption refers to the payment of a price for one’s deliverance and freedom—a ransom. Jesus came to pay the price for His people—for their sins and the establishment of their righteousness. He lived a righteous life on their behalf and died for all their sins. As a result, He bought their eternal freedom—He bought them for Himself. Hebrews states that as follows: “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Heb. 10:14).
The most important question is: are we part of His people? John helps us with the answer: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). We can only truly celebrate Christmas when we belong to Him. Do you?
The Devotional Writer
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