To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies
Might serve Him without fear.
In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
– Luke 1:74
When John the Baptist was born, his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit and sang an inspired song (Luke 1:67-79). In it, he talks about prophecy fulfilled, about the long-awaited time when salvation would finally arrive for God’s people and they would be delivered from their enemies.
If you know anything about the history of the Hebrew people, you know that they’ve had no shortage of enemies. Empire after empire thrashed the country, sacked Jerusalem, and deported God’s people. His song celebrates the end of centuries of suffering, and you can almost hear the relief and jubilation. Finally, finally, God is making good on His promise! We’ve actually made it!
Except that’s not just ancient history. The persecution of the Hebrews continued, and to this very day there are forces devoted to the destruction of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. How can this be? Where is the fulfillment of prophecy that Zacharias sang so joyfully about? After all, this is the time when God’s people were supposed to be “delivered from the hand of our enemies” so they “might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness.”
The outcome of salvation, for Zacharias, is specific in purpose: that God’s people would be free to serve God without fear. There’s another passage of Scripture that has similar language. Hebrews 9:14 tells us that Christ’s sacrifice brings us salvation “to serve the living God,” and it’s earlier in that same chapter that we’re reminded “Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come.” His salvation is not of this creation, not part of this physical world.
Zacharias probably didn’t realize how right he actually was. God’s salvation had come, and God’s people would be free to serve without fear. It wouldn’t be a political freedom. No territory would be reclaimed. No despots would be overthrown. But in the very near future, the enemy of God’s people—sin and death—would be defeated. Once that happened, those who called on His name would find salvation, serving without fear. That salvation empowered Stephen to stand strong in the face of death; it empowered Paul to boldly take the gospel into the heart of Rome; and it has, for millennia since, removed fear and allowed countless men and women to boldly serve Jesus Christ even under threat of martyrdom.
If you name the name of Jesus, the promise of Luke 1:74 is yours, too. You have been delivered from the hand of your enemies. You can serve God without fear, because regardless of what happens in this creation, we serve the God of good things to come.
- What does serving God look like in your life?
- Have you allowed fear to cripple your service?
- What can you do to encourage a sister or brother to stand strong and serve without fear?