Summary: Jesus came to break chains that bind people and set them free.
Breaking and Making Christmas Chains
As we enter the Advent season today I want to talk about chains we need to break and chains we need to make. The background for this message comes from the life and ministry of Zachariah a priest in Israel. Zachariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God and it came his turn to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense. While at prayer an angel of God appeared to Zachariah and told him that his wife Elizabeth would bear them a son.
Their son would have an important mission of God. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth and would grow up to be a preacher and prophet. He would call Israel back to God and get people ready for the coming of the Messiah.
Because Zachariah doubted the word of the Angel he was struck deaf and dumb ¡V he could not hear or speak. When he came out the sanctuary he could not speak and had to communicate in sign language.
At the end of nine months Elizabeth gave birth to a son. On the eighth day in accordance with Levitical law the baby was circumcised. According to custom the baby was given a name at the time of circumcision and it was customary to name the first born son after the father. Friends began calling the new baby Zachariah but the mother protested and said, ¡§No. He is to be called John.¡¨
They used sign language to communicate with Zachariah and asked him what the name of the baby should be. Zachariah asked for a tablet and wrote, ¡§His name is to be John.¡¨ At that moment Zachariah¡¦s tongue was lose and he began talking and praising God.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
He came and set his people free,
He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives,
And in the very house of David his servant.
Just as he promised long ago
Through the preaching of his holy prophets:
Deliverance from our enemies
And every hateful hand;
Mercy to our fathers,
As he remembers to do what he said he¡¦d do,
What he swore to our father Abraham---
A clean rescue from the enemy camp,
So we can worship him without a care in the world,
Made holy before him as long as we live.
And you, my child, ¡§Prophet of the Highest,¡¨
Will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways,
Present the offer of salvation to his people,
The forgiveness of their sins.
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God¡¦s Sunrise will break upon us,
Shinning on those in the darkness,
Those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
Down the path of peace.
The child grew up, healthy and spirited. He lived out in the desert until the day he made his prophetic debut in Israel.
The first part of the hymn proclaims the coming of the Messiah. The second part describes the life and ministry of John the Baptist. John the Baptist would not be your normal preacher. John work clothes made of camel¡¦s hair and he had a leather belt around his waist (and maybe a chain hanging from it ¡V if he were preaching today he would come riding in on a hog, Harley Davidson Motorcycle). His food was locusts and wild honey.