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Fear No More

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Among the colourful cast of characters, the shepherds, angels, wise men, Joseph and Mary, Zechariah is usually overlooked in the Christmas story. “Who?” Exactly. But of all the above, Zechariah was the first one to be given a preview that God was planning something huge and unprecedented with the birth of His Son.

Zechariah was a priest, which means that he was very much acquainted with the fear of the Lord. It was a healthy, reverent kind of fear, but it was a sense of fear and distance from God nonetheless. He went into the temple one day and into the Holy Place to burn incense to the Lord. This was a place where a priest could die in the presence of the Lord if they did not prepare for their entry properly (Leviticus 16).

While inside the Holy Place, an angel appeared to him and gave him the good news that he and his elderly wife Elizabeth would be parents to John, a great prophet who would prepare people’s hearts for the Messiah. But in appearing to Zechariah, the angel also gave him the scare of his life. So Zechariah was well acquainted with fear.

Fast forward a few months and his son is born. Zechariah confirms that the boy’s name will be John, his muteness is lifted and he bursts out in a song of praise about the coming of the Messiah:

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
 for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
  in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
  that we should be saved from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us;
to show the mercy promised to our fathers
  and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, 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 our days.

One line in the song sums it all up for me: “that we…might serve him without fear.”

This a game-changer of a revelation. Because until this point most people who encountered the Lord (or even an angel of the Lord) were filled with fear. But now God is unveiling something completely new in His plan for the world, and announces through the birth of His Son that we no longer have to fear Him. Instead we know Him personally and intimately, like a friend or someone closer than a brother or sister.

How do you see God, our Father? Some of us might still have a fear of our heavenly Father. We might still be affected by negative impressions of earthly fathers or authority figures. Maybe we’re afraid to let Him in to our secret places for fear of shame or punishment.

Jesus Christ came to change of all that.

We do not have to fear being worthless because he has redeemed us;
We do not have to fear punishment because he has shown us mercy;
We do not have to fear shame because we are made holy; and,
We do not have to fear sin because we are made righteous before him.

Can you identify with any of those fears? Read Zechariah’s song in Luke 1:68-79 and be reminded that we can live for God and serve Him without fear anymore.

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