These are words of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. Because he did not believe the angel who appeared to him in the Temple he had been made dumb. When the child is born and there is pressure to call him Zechariah, the father’s “tongue is loosed and he blessing God. And fear came upon all their neighbours” (Luke 1:65). This fear does not mean being scared or afraid, but to be in awe.

“Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied …” (Luke 1:67). It is a prophecy about the coming task of his new born son “who will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways” (verse 76).

Compared to human expectations God’s time frame for action is exceedingly slow: it had been some 400 years since God had sent the last prophet (Malachi) to His nation, but as Zechariah now says, “the Lord God … 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 …” (verses 70,71).

Because they rejected His Son, God delayed the fulfilment of this to our days. From God’s perspective time is so different but His plans are always fulfilled. Note the remarkable deliverances of the nation of Israel since 1948 in being “saved … from the hand of all who hate (them)”! Deliverance needs to be assessed from several perspectives; there is deliverance from fear of evil men and deliverance from sin and death. John and then Jesus came to “give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (verse 79).

Are we seeing the light and letting it “guide our feet”? There are many traps these days so we must place our spiritual feet with care. How many appreciated the “light” they were seeing in the words of John and Jesus? Many all stumbled and fell. By his grace, those with genuine hearts were pulled to their feet again. May we have genuine hearts and clearly see the light, only then can we “serve him without fear”.