Monday, May 5, 2014

The Forgiveness of Sins and Zechariah's Benedictus

Zechariah’s prophetic hymn, the Benedictus, celebrates God’s actions to rescue his people in and through the coming Messiah (Luke 1:68–79). Zechariah also prophecies about his son John and his later ministry: “For you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:76b–77). John would prepare the way by giving people the knowledge of salvation in the forgiveness of their sins. This corresponds well to the message or repentance from sin that characterized John’s later ministry (Luke 3:3). Zechariah rightly recognized that political, militaristic, social, and economic deliverance (Luke 1:71, 74) must be preceded by the salvation that could come only through God’s forgiveness of his people’s sin. This is a powerful truth; all the best attempts by mankind to maintain world peace and eliminate poverty, oppression, and tyranny falter at this point. The destructive presence of sin undermines and derails the best intentions and efforts of the human will. Only by decisively dealing with the sin problem can these other issues be addressed. Salvation must start with the forgiveness of sins before its presence can be felt in all the other dimensions of human life and society.

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