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Verses 76-78

Luke 1:76-78. And thou child He now speaks to John his son, yet not as a parent, but as a prophet; shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest Thou shalt be the messenger of God Most High. Our Lord declares that John was more than a prophet: that is, he was a great preacher of righteousness, who called aloud to the people to repent, that they might be forgiven; and he foretold that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his way Thou shalt go before the Lord Christ, to point him out as the Messiah to his people, and to dispose and prepare them to receive him as such by repentance toward God, productive of fruit worthy of repentance, and by faith in him and subjection to him as a divinely-commissioned teacher, a mighty Saviour, and righteous governor. See note on Matthew 3:3. To give knowledge of salvation to his people To preach to God’s people the glad tidings of salvation, present and eternal, as attainable; to show them the way of attaining it, namely, by repentance and faith in the Messiah, and to give all such as should comply with these terms the knowledge of their having attained it, at least in part, by assuring them of the remission of their sins, that blessing being a branch of present, and a pledge and earnest of future salvation. Through the tender mercy of our God Σπλαγχνα ελεους , the bowels of mercy, a strong Hebraism, implying God’s tender compassions for mankind, immersed as they are in sins and miseries. “These two words are often used in Scripture both jointly and separately. They signify pity, because that passion in us is commonly attended with a motion of the bowels, especially when the object of it is one we have an interest in. See Isaiah 63:15; Philippians 2:1; Colossians 3:12; where bowels of mercy signify the most tender mercy. The word σπλαγχνα , bowels, used by itself signifies any strong affection whatever, Philemon 1:7.” John the Baptist gave people to understand, that though their case was deplorable, by reason of sin, it was not desperate, because pardon might be obtained through the tender and unspeakable mercy of God. Whereby the day-spring The dawning day of morning light; that is, the gospel dispensation, as superior to the patriarchal or Mosaic, with their types and shadows, as the light of the rising sun is superior to that of the moon and stars. This gospel-day dawned in the ministry of John the Baptist; and it increased more and more during the personal ministry of Christ, and it shone out with meridian splendour on the day of pentecost, and thenceforward, when, in consequence of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, the Holy Spirit, in his various gifts and graces, ordinary and extraordinary, was poured out on the Christian Church. It is true the word ανατολη , here rendered day-spring, may signify, as some render it, the rising sun: for Zacharias is here alluding to the passages in the prophetic writings which describe the Messiah by the metaphors of the light and sun, particularly Malachi 4:2; where he is called the Sun of righteousness, both on account of the light of his doctrine, and the joy produced by his appearing. See the note there, and on Isaiah 60:1-2; Isaiah 60:19. “Indeed no figure was ever more happily imagined, or more naturally applied, than this which represents the promised seed under the notion of the sun. For most aptly may Jesus be likened to the rising sun; his doctrine being to the souls of men what light is to their bodies. It is altogether necessary for directing our steps in the paths of truth and righteousness; it is exceedingly sweet to the spiritual taste, by discovering the most important and delightful truths; nay, like the light, it throws a beauty and pleasantness upon every thing in this lower world, which, without the assurance of God’s reconcileableness, would be but a dark and dreary scene to sinners, however noble and beautiful in itself.” Macknight.

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