The prayer of Zechariah (Lk 1:68-1:68)

“Blessed be the Lord!

The God of Israel!

He has looked favorably

On his people.

He has redeemed them.”

 

Εὐλογητὸς Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, ὅτι ἐπεσκέψατο καὶ ἐποίησεν λύτρωσιν τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ,

 

Luke then had this so-called Benedictus prayer, based on the Latin translation of Εὐλογητὸς.  At the same time, this prayer is a prophesy also.  First, Zechariah was thankful for all the people of Israel, not just himself.  He used the familiar blessing that David said to Abigail in 1 Samuel, chapter 25:32, and to Solomon in 1 Kings, chapter 1:48.  Solomon used this same blessing in 1 Kings, chapter 8:35.  He said that the Lord was blessed (Εὐλογητὸς Κύριος).  He was the God of Israel (ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ) who had visited, intervened, or looked favorably (ὅτι ἐπεσκέψατο) on his people (τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ,), since he has saved or brought them redemption (καὶ ἐποίησεν λύτρωσιν).  Zechariah had a sense of what the scope of John’s birth would be on all Israel, not just his family.  He implied that salvation or redemption had already taken place with the birth of his son John, not waiting for Jesus.

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Healing the crowds of people (Mt 15:30-15:31)

“Great crowds

Came to him.

They brought with them

The lame,

The maimed,

The blind,

The mute,

And many others.

They put them

At his feet.

Jesus healed them.

Thus,

The crowd was amazed

When they saw

The mute speaking,

The maimed whole,

The lame walking,

And the blind seeing.

They praised

The God of Israel.”

 

καὶ προσῆλθον αὐτῷ ὄχλοι πολλοὶ ἔχοντες μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν χωλούς, κυλλούς, τυφλούς, κωφούς, καὶ ἑτέρους πολλούς, καὶ ἔριψαν αὐτοὺς παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτούς·

ὥστε τὸν ὄχλον θαυμάσαι βλέποντας κωφοὺς λαλοῦντας κυλλοὺς ὑγιεῖς καὶ χωλοὺς περιπατοῦντας καὶ τυφλοὺς βλέποντας· καὶ ἐδόξασαν τὸν Θεὸν Ἰσραήλ.

 

This seems to be unique to Matthew, with his emphasis on the great crowds of people and mass healings.  In chapter 8:17, He had talked about these healing actions as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, but here this prophet is not mentioned.  As usual, great crowds came out to see Jesus (καὶ προσῆλθον αὐτῷ ὄχλοι πολλοὶ).  They brought with them (ἔχοντες μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν) the lame (χωλούς), the maimed (κυλλούς), the blind (τυφλούς), the mute (κωφούς), and many other sick people (, καὶ ἑτέρους πολλούς).  They were all placed at the feet of Jesus (καὶ ἔριψαν αὐτοὺς παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ).  Then he healed them (καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτούς), so that the crowd was amazed or marveled at what they saw (ὥστε τὸν ὄχλον θαυμάσαι βλέποντας).  The mute people were able to speak (κωφοὺς λαλοῦντας).  The maimed people were made sound or whole (κυλλοὺς ὑγιεῖς).  The lame people were able to walk (καὶ χωλοὺς περιπατοῦντας).  The blind people were able to see (καὶ τυφλοὺς βλέποντας).  They all praised or honored the God of Israel (καὶ ἐδόξασαν τὸν Θεὸν Ἰσραήλ), and not Jesus.

The Christian God

The Christian tradition believes in a monotheistic personal God who has had a unique presence in Jesus Christ.  We truly care to live with the mysterious life of God who has an impact on our lives.  The God of Israel was Yahweh, whom the Christians consider God the Father.  There is also the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Yahweh, that is present in our lives.  Jesus is the Son of God, the Father.

Yahweh is your God (Hos 13:4-13:5)

“I am Yahweh!

Your God!

I have been

Your God

Ever since the land of Egypt.

You know no God

But me!

Besides me,

There is no savior!

It was I

Who fed you

In the wilderness,

In the land

Of drought.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, was clear. He left no doubt that he was the God of Israel, since he had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They did not know any other God except him, since he alone was their savior. He fed them and brought them out of the drought stricken wilderness.

The death of King Antiochus IV (Dan 11:44-11:45)

“But reports from the east,

Reports from the north,

Shall alarm him.

He shall go out

With great fury

To bring ruin,

To bring complete destruction

To many.

He shall pitch

His palatial tents

Between the sea and

The beautiful holy mountain.

Yet he shall come

To his end,

With no one

To help him.”

It is not clear where King Antiochus IV died. However, in 2 Maccabees, chapter 9, there was a vivid description of the illness that led to his death. Here it takes place between the coast and the holy mountain of Jerusalem. Apparently, this king had problems in the east and north. Thus, he set out to ruin and destroy them. Then he pitched his palatial tent before he died. 1 Maccabees, chapter 6, and 2 Maccabees, chapter 9, have this dreadful king have a deathbed conversion to the God of Israel. Here, that is not mentioned.

The king’s decree (Dan 3:29-3:29)

Therefore,

I make a decree.

‘Any people,

Any nation,

Any language

That utters

Blasphemy

Against the God

Of Shadrach,

Of Meshach,

Of Abednego,

Shall be torn

Limb from limb.

Their houses will be

Laid in ruins.

There is no other god

Who is able

To deliver

In this way.’”

Now in a complete reversal, King Nebuchadnezzar issued a decree to all the people, all the countries, and all the language groups. Anyone who blasphemed the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would be torn limb from limb. They would also lose their houses. Anyone speaking badly about the God of Israel would be punished. This king was able to accept a new better God in his polytheistic vision of the world, as his golden statute became less important.