The Songs of Christmas: Blessed Be the God of Israel (Luke 1.67-79)

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
November 29: Blessed be the God of Israel by Michael Perry (1942-1996)
CCLI Song # 2627452
Scripture References: Luke 1:67-79
Theme: Prophet of Promise

Blessed be the God of Israel by Michael Perry
Blessed be the God of Israel who comes to set us free
Who visits and redeems us and grants us liberty
The prophets spoke of mercy, of freedom, and release
God shall fulfill the promise to bring our people peace

Now from the house of David a child of grace is given
A Savior comes among us to raise us up to heaven
Before Him goes His herald, forerunner in the way
The prophet of salvation, the harbinger of Day

On prisoners of darkness, the sun begins to rise
The dawning of forgiveness upon the sinner’s eyes
To guide the feet of pilgrims along the paths of peace
Oh bless our God and Savior with songs that never cease

Prayer:
Fill us Holy Spirit,
as you have your faithful through the ages
Fill us with vision to see the goodness and glory to come
Fill us with truth to speak and the courage to do so
Fill us with resolve to follow the emancipated way of our Jesus:
and to help others do the same. Amen.

Additional Resources:

This hymn text is a metrical paraphrase of the “Benedictus” or the “Song of Zechariah” from Luke 1:68-79.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.

Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Excerpt from History of Hymns: “Blessed Be the God of Israel” by Andrew Butler
Zechariah had been made dumb during his wife Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist. When he hears of his son’s birth, his tongue is loosed for his song of praise to the Lord God of Israel….

A variety of terms refer to John the Baptist in stanza two including “herald,” “forerunner,” “prophet of salvation” and “harbinger.” Perry condenses the metaphor in the canticle referring to Christ as the “day-spring from on high” and John as the messenger as the “harbinger of Day.”

The last line of the hymn—“with songs that never cease!”—would seem to be a hyperbole at first glance, but the text is a literal understanding of eschatology. Our songs will never cease in heaven.

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CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.

The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.

Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is the big idea?
    • Why is it important?
    • How does this truth connect with my life?
  • Have a conversation with God about this truth.
  • Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.

Additional Ideas:

  • Journal your reflections
  • Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
  • Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
  • Sing or listen to the song
  • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <><

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Blessed be the God of Israel reflection © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Prophet Like Moses (Deuteronomy 18, Hebrews 3)

Jesus, The Coming Messiah
Jesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 5: The Messiah as Prophet Like Moses
Readings: Deuteronomy 18:14-22; Hebrews 3:1-6

Deuteronomy 18:14-18, The Voice
Moses: The nations you’re going to displace seek guidance from people who practice divination and predicting. But the Eternal your God doesn’t want you to do that. He will raise up from among your own people a prophet who will be like me. Listen to him. This is just what you asked Him for on the day you gathered at Mount Horeb: “Don’t make me listen to the voice of the Eternal my God anymore! And don’t make me look at that blazing fire! I’ll die!” The Eternal told me, “They’re right. I’ll send them another prophet like you from among their own people. I’ll put My words in the mouth of this prophet who will tell them everything I command him to say.

Hebrews 3:1-6, The Voice
So all of you who are holy partners in a heavenly calling, let’s turn our attention to Jesus, the Emissary of God and High Priest, who brought us the faith we profess; and compare Him to Moses, who also brought words from God. Both of them were faithful to their missions, to the One who called them. But we value Jesus more than Moses, in the same way that we value a builder more than the house he builds. Every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Moses brought healing and redemption to his people as a faithful servant in God’s house, and he was a witness to the things that would be spoken later. But Jesus the Anointed was faithful as a Son of that house. (We become that house, if we’re able to hold on to the confident hope we have in God until the end.)

Excerpt from an impressive article entitled 21 Proofs that Yeshua is “The Prophet Like Moses” by One for Israel, Messianic Jews in Israel. Messianic Jews have accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah and refer to him as Yeshua, the Hebrew version of his name.

  1. First off, He’s definitely from “among the brothers” of Israel, so that’s a good start. The Prophet must be Jewish, and Jesus’ heritage was from the tribe of Judah.
  2. Both were shepherds – Yeshua said, “I am the good shepherd”, and Moses also tended sheep – figuratively and literally.
  3. Both were sent to bring salvation after 400 years of apparent inactivity from God – the Israelites had been enslaved for 400 years in Egypt, and the 400 years before Yeshua came had been notably silent years from God.
  4. Both fasted for 40 days and nights – Moses while on Mount Sinai, and Yeshua in the Judean desert, when being tempted by Satan
  5. Both spent time in Egypt as children (as Yeshua had to be hidden there for a while as a baby to escape Herod)
  6. Both were born at a time when evil kings pronounced death to all Jewish baby boys in the area – Pharaoh had commanded all Hebrew baby boys to be drowned at birth, and Herod had issued a command to kill all baby boys under the age of two. Both were miraculously rescued from that threat
  7. Both were called by God to lead and save
  8. Both did miracles to testify to their God-given authority
  9. Both instituted a covenant of blood that brought salvation for many – Moses with the Passover lamb’s blood on the doorposts, Yeshua, Lamb of God, brought in the new covenant in his blood on the beams of the cross
  10. Both were given God’s public stamp of approval with an audible voice from heaven, heard by the crowd – Moses at Sinai, and Yeshua at his baptism
  11. Both gave up great riches to lead a humble life of service and poverty – Moses from the palace of the King of Egypt, Yeshua from the heights of heaven. Both were noted for their great humility (Numbers 12:3, Hebrews 11:26-27, Philippians 2)
  12. Both were initially rejected by the Jews when the foretold salvation didn’t seem as if it was going to happen. When Moses first challenged Pharaoh, things got a lot worse for the Israelites, leading to despair and anger. Yeshua’s crucifixion looked like a hopeless defeat. Both salvation situations initially looked like the promises were not going to come true. But they did.
  13. Both were criticized by their own families – Mary and Yeshua’s brothers in Mark 3:20-21, and Moses’ sister and brother in Numbers 12:1.
  14. Both were willing to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of those they were leading, and to pay for the sins of their people – Moses in Exodus 32, and Yeshua’s own readiness to die on our behalf is evident in the Garden of Gethsemene
  15. Both miraculously provided the people with bread to eat – manna was sent from heaven for the Israelites and Yeshua famously fed the multitudes. Twice.
  16. Both were accepted by Gentiles – Moses’ father in law, a Midianite, instantly believed (Exodus 18:10-11) The Egyptians too came to believe that the God of Israel was real and true. And the non-Jews readily accepted Yeshua’s message of salvation.
  17. Under Moses, all those who believed him, those who followed the instructions and put the sacrificial blood on their doors, were saved from death. This means that all those who left Egypt had taken a step of faith and been saved. They were no longer just Hebrews ethnically, they had become a faith community. Similarly, under Yeshua, all those who appropriate his sacrificial blood, shed for us to save us from the power of death have entered into the faith community of those who follow Him.
  18. Seven weeks (50 days) after the Exodus, the Israelites waited upon God to receive the Torah – now that they had been saved, how then should they live? God gave Moses His covenant and instructions on how to live as a faith community. Seven weeks (50 days) after the resurrection, the disciples waited as Yeshua instructed them to receive the Holy Spirit, and the church was born – a new faith community, and a new way to live as believers.
  19. Both of their faces shone with the glory of heaven, as was noted by people who saw them – Moses had to wear a veil over his face because it was beaming so much, and Yeshua’s disciples saw His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration.
  20. Moses chose 12 spies to explore Canaan, and Yeshua chose 12 disciples. Moses appointed 70 rulers over Israel, and Yeshua sent 70 disciples out to share the gospel.
  21. Moses led the people out from slavery into the wilderness. 40 years of wandering, hardship, and a lot of lessons learned the hard way – but all with God’s help and presence. The promised land would come only later. Yeshua has redeemed us into  life with Him, still on this fallen earth. A limited time not without pain and struggle, and many lessons learned the hard way – but all with God’s help and presence. The life we were created for with no sickness, pain or death is yet to come.

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
Who brings from on high God’s will and way of life

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Who feeds us with the Bread of Heaven, his very body

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Who leads us through the wilderness to God’s eternal promised land

Fill us with your Holy Spirit,
as you have your faithful through the ages
Fill us with vision to see the goodness and glory to come
Fill us with truth to speak and the courage to do so
Fill us with resolve to follow the emancipated way of our Jesus:
Forgiveness for all
Deliverance from all
Solidarity with all
Integrity above all
Amen

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Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible Reading Plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered? I look forward to your comments.

If you’re in Sarasota, please drop by Trinity United Methodist Church for one of our seasonal events or services or just to say, “Hi.” You’re always welcome and wanted.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <><

The Messiah as Prophet Like Moses © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.