The Rising Sun | Christmas Sermon

Luke 1:67-79

Introduction

Once we went as a family to Pondicherry for vacation. Pondicherry is towards the east coast of India. Early morning if you happen to go to the beach you can see the sunrise there. The rising sun is so beautiful to look at. The sun breaks upon the darkness of night and brightens up the day. The rising sun dispels the darkness.

Well, Jesus Christ came as the promised Messiah some 2000 years ago. He came to dispel the darkness of sin and bring the light of God upon the world. Those who follow Jesus walk in the light. He is called the rising sun that breaks out of a dark night.

THE RISING SUN

Zechariah calls Jesus as the rising sun. Let’s look at Zechariah’s song in Luke chapter one.

Luke 1:67-79 Zechariah’s Song

67His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

68“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel because he has come to his people and redeemed them. 69He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us— 72to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, 73the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 74to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

76And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 77to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 78because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 79to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

HF: Zechariah portrays Jesus as the rising sun who has come to redeem mankind by giving light and peace to those living in the darkness of sin.

In Luke 1, Zachariah is a priest. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have been barren. An angel comes to Zachariah and tells him that he will have a son. The son will be the promised prophet, who will be the forerunner of the Messiah. Then the angel Gabriel comes to Mary and announces to her that she will be the mother of the Messiah. She will be conceived by the Holy Spirit. Then we find Mary meet her cousin Elizabeth and the baby leaps in Elizabeth’s womb.

By the time you get to Luke 1:67, Zachariah’s son is born, John the Baptist, the prophet. Based on what the angle spoke about his son and his knowledge of the OT scripture, Zachariah now knows that the Messiah is about to arrive. And he bursts out in song in verse 67 down to 79.

See what Zechariah says about his son, John the Baptist:

Luke 1:76

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,

See the connection of this from the OT.

Malachi 3:1

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

Notice how the OT ends with the expectation of the forerunner and expectation of the Messiah.

Malachi 4:5-6

5“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

The prophet will come to restore the hearts of the people to get ready for His arrival. So, Zachariah knows that this child is the forerunner to the Messiah, and he is excited beyond comprehension because he knows now the fulfillment of everything for Israel is about to break.

The Song Of Zechariah Connects To OT Promises

Zechariah’s song helps us build our bridge back to the Old Testament because he shows us that a true understanding of the Old Testament and its covenants will connect to Christ.

He then connects the salvation that Jesus is bringing as a fulfillment of all the promises God made to David and to Abraham. And there is mention of both David and Abraham in his song.

Six Covenants of the Old Testament

a. The Covent God made with Noah. Genesis 9:11

The covenant God made with Noah that He wouldn’t drown the world again in water.

b. The Abrahamic Covenant. Genesis 12

Go said to Abraham that out of his loins would come many people like the sand of the sea, the stars of the heaven, descendants. He would give them a land and to Abraham was promised the seed who would be the Redeemer. There were no Jews then, there was no nation; just Abraham.

c. The Mosaic covenant or the Sinaitic covenant. Exodus 19-20

Moses got the Law on Mount Sinai. God became their God and Israel became his people.

d. The Priestly Covenant. Numbers 25

This is the covenant God made with the Levites.

e. The Davidic Covenant. 2 Samuel 7

God makes a promise to David that out of his loin, in the future, will come a great King. That great King will rule Israel and beyond, and His rule will be forever.

c. The New Covenant. Jeremiah 31:31-34

A covenant where the Lord would put the law in our hearts. It is a covenant of love.

Jeremiah 31:31

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.

Jeremiah 31:3

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

Jeremiah 31:34

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

That’s the covenant that forgives sins.

Creation Noah Abraham Moses/law David Jeremiah
Jesus
Cannot be dated   2091 BC 1446 BC 1000 BC 609 BC 5 BC – 30 AD

In this, three covenants speak about the coming Messiah

a. The Davidic Covenant. 2 Samuel 7

b. The Abrahamic Covenant. Genesis 12

c. The New Covenant. Jeremiah 31:31-34

All these covenants are mentioned in the song of Zechariah.

Luke 1:67-79

69He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David….

73the oath he swore to our father Abraham….

77to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins

Therefore this is a rich song. This is a song full of the OT prophesies about the Messiah.

Zechariah’s Song Is Based On The Jewish Expectation Of The Messiah

What was the Jewish expectation of the Messiah?

Every Jew believed that when the promised Messiah comes the fullness of the kingdom will come. Messiah would come. Bring Salvation to Israel and establish his Kingdom and rule on earth. It will be paradise regained.

Zechariah 14:9

The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.

However, the Messiah was rejected by the Jews and Jesus postponed the literal establishment of the kingdom until his second coming. In the meantime, Jesus establishes the church. Therefore, the Kingdom of God has been inaugurated by Jesus, but the fullness of the Kingdom is in His second coming.

Look at the chart.

See the indication of it in Zechariah’s song:

Luke 1:71-75

 71salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us— 72to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, 73the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 74to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

The Lord will establish His Messiah as King. The Lord will defeat all of Israel’s enemies. Israel will enjoy great prosperity. Jerusalem will rise to world preeminence. These are from all different Old Testament passages related to the Davidic promise. The center of the world will be the kingdom and Jerusalem. Gentiles in the kingdom will receive blessings. Worldwide peace will prevail. Moral and spiritual conditions will be on the highest plain since the fall of Adam.

This was the Jewish expectation. However the Messiah gave redemption and inaugurated the kingdom, but the consummation of the kingdom is postponed to the second coming.

However, one can get a clear glimpse of the work of the Messiah based on this song.

A Glimpse Into The Work Of The Rising Sun

1. Jesus Has Come To Redeem His People Through Forgiveness of Sins

Luke 1:68-70

68“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel because he has come to his people and redeemed them. 69He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago)

The coming of Christ is to redeem his people. “To redeem” means to buy at high cost, to buy back, to pay a price. Jesus has come to redeem us, to rescue us.

By what means will God redeem His people?

Luke 1:69

He has raised up a horn of salvation for us. “Horn” is the symbol or the picture of power or victory. And so, in the Jewish mind, the horn of salvation is an all-powerful and victorious Savior. In order for God to deliver His people, there will have to be a powerful, mighty Savior.

So the Lord has come to redeem his people through Jesus, who is the horn of salvation for us.

Application

The message of the rising sun is that He has come to rescue every person of the world from death and give eternal life.

How will the Lord do that?

Jesus Has Come To Redeem His People Through Forgiveness Of Sins

Luke 1:77

to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,

Jesus gives us the covenant of forgiveness. Is there forgiveness in the Law? No, The Law says, “Do this and you live; don’t do this and you die.” According to the law, all will die, no one can fulfill the law. Through Jesus God will forgive the sins of His people. That is the new covenant in Jesus.

The essence of this new covenant in Jesus is already laid out in

Deuteronomy 30:6

The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. It is the circumcision of hearts.

Keep the Law, you cannot and you die. Love the Lord your God with all your heart you live.

How do you do that? How can anybody love God that way?

Jeremiah 31:31-34

31“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.

33“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.  34No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Through Jesus, We Have A Covenant That Forgives Sins

The only hope, then, to receive the promises of God (promises to David and Abraham) is to be forgiven, and to have a new heart and a new spirit, and to have the Law of God written on the heart. It’s an internal transformation.

The prophet Ezekiel speaks of it in

Ezekiel 36:25-27

25I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

I’m going to transform you, change you and regenerate you. Additionally, going to change you from the inside out. And that covenant was ratified or made official by the death of Jesus. That’s why in Luke 22:20, He picks up the cup at Passover and says:

Luke 22:20

This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

What then is the new covenant? It is the unilateral, irrevocable, unchangeable, eternal promise by God that He will save sinners by forgiving their transgressions and regenerating them from the inside to love Him and obey Him. That’s the new covenant. And He’s been doing it throughout all of redemptive history. And here, in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, He promises to do it for Israel someday.

This covenant was personal and individual, and you are part of that covenant. He’s done that for you and for me.

Why would God gives us forgiveness of sins? Because of God’s mercy

2. The Motive For Salvation Is Mercy.

Luke 1:77-78

77to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 78because of the tender mercy of our God.

1 Peter 1:3-5

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Mercy of God being poured on us through Jesus Christ. We cannot earn it. It comes to us only through repentance. When we acknowledge our sins and cry out to God for mercy and forgiveness by grace we will receive the salvation that God gives.

The word is splanchna, which refers to the inner organs, the bowels, the tender mercy of God. Down deep, embedded in the very nature of God is mercy. It is a deep-seated desire for doing good and showing favor, kindness, and mercy to undeserving sinners.

God forgives sins because of his mercy. He is the bearer of mercy. The throne of God is a throne of mercy.

Mercy Illustration

A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice, and justice demanded death. “But I don’t ask for justice,” the mother explained. “I plead for mercy.” “But your son does not deserve mercy,” Napoleon replied. “Sir,” the woman cried, “it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for.” “Well, then,” the emperor said, “I will have mercy.” And he spared the woman’s son.

3. Jesus Is The Rising Sun That Banishes Spiritual Darkness

Luke 1:78

because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven.

Jesus comes as the Sunrise from on high to visit us. Jesus is the rising sun. The arrival of the Messiah is like the first blaze of sun, in the morning, that breaks the darkness of night.

Malachi 4:2

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.

Jesus said:

John 8:12

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

The Messiah is the rising Sun that banishes spiritual darkness

Darkness in the Scripture is used to describe ignorance, blindness, what is hidden, error. It is also used to describe things in a moral category: Sin, wickedness, the presence of Satan. It’s used to describe the absence of God. Darkness is used to describe hell, but God is seen as light.

1 John 1:5

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him, there is no darkness at all.

Zachariah says, “When the Messiah, the rising sun comes, the Savior King comes, the Light of salvation will break and dispel the darkness.”

This is what Isaiah said,

Isaiah 9:2

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.

And who is that Light? Same chapter

Isaiah 9:6

For to us, a child is born, to us, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. That child is Jesus Christ.

Zachariah understood that the arrival of the Messiah was the arrival of salvation’s Light to shatter the darkness of ignorance and sin.

See the Condition of Man now.

Isaiah 59:2-3

2But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear. 3For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked thing

But there is hope for man. See the same chapter v1:

Isaiah 59:1

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.

Look at chapter 60

Isaiah 60:1- 3

1“Arise, shine, for your light, has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 2See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

How’s it going to happen?

Isaiah 61:10

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

It is such a covering of God’s righteousness on us:

Isaiah 62:12

They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord, and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.

This is what Zachariah is singing.

4. Jesus Is The Rising Sun That Grants Peace

Luke 1:79

to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. Peace with God and the peace of God.

The rising sun will give us peace with God, peace with us, and peace with others. All that was in the new covenant or the work of the rising sun, the messiah:

Forgiveness, a new heart, a new spirit or the Holy Spirit, the knowledge of God, the love of God implanted in the heart, righteousness, holiness, light shattering the darkness, and peace in the place of turmoil and trouble.

“All of that,” Zachariah says, “is here with the arrival of the Messiah.”

Conclusion

Sadly, those hopes for Israel were only partially realized; there were just a few in Israel who actually believed and were saved. The nation rejected the Messiah, had the Romans kill him. They still reject Him, but there’s a future day when they will look on the One they’ve pierced, and they will be cleansed and saved and receive the promises.

In the meantime, the Lord is calling you today to receive this rising sun. We have come to another advent season. Is this rising sun real for you? Have you received forgiveness of sins? Jesus is willing to make a new covenant with you today. Will you surrender yourself to the rising sun today?