Revelations from the Word

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In order to serve Him without fear

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: Blessed is 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, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham: To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve [latreuo] Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life" (Luke 1:67-75).

The Greek verb latreuo means 'to serve a god', 'to carry out a service for a god'; for us it is, of course, a matter of serving the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as these verses show: "Anne did not leave the temple and served [latreuo] God night and day in fasting and in prayer" (Luke 2:37) and "You will love the Lord, your God, and you will serve [latreuo] Him only" (Luke 4:8). Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied the coming of the Redeemer, the Goel, the One who has the authority and the power to redeem and deliver the people of God from the hand of their enemies in order that they might serve [latreuo] without fear. The purpose of the Goel therefore is to redeem a people so that they may belong to God and be set apart (holy) for Him (Exodus 19:5-6).

The history of the Hebrews in Psalm 136 is an allegory of the Christian life showing the goodness and mercy of God for the salvation of all men. The salvation of the people of Israel came about by stages, and it's the same for our own salvation:

  • Jesus Christ is the Goel who redeems us so that we belong to Him, and who causes us to come out of the kingdom of Satan (Egypt), which is also the land of our humiliation (Psalm 136:11,23-24), in order to set us apart for God,

  • He has us pass through the waters of baptism (the Red Sea) to destroy every trace of the enemy in our lives (Psalm 136:12-15), for Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33),

  • He leads us into the desert (the Sinai Desert) to write His Torah in our hearts (Psalm 136:16),

  • He baptises us in the Holy Spirit (the River Jordan) to equip us with His gifts,

  • He causes us to conquer our inheritance (Canaan) by striking little by little (Exodus 23:30) the powerful kings in our lives (Psalm 136:17-21) who cause us to walk in fear,

  • He gives us as spoil our own lives (Jeremiah 39:18) so that we can enter fully into the plans of God. We then become His servants, that is to say priests in His Kingdom. And our bodies become the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

The desire of the Hebrews before everything else was to come out of Egypt, and so to leave their oppressors, but God's design was to have them enter the Promised Land. It is the same for us Christians, salvation is not God's only object but He wishes to make disciples of us in His Kingdom. Several weeks were needed for God to be able to get His people out of Egypt, but He needed 40 years to get Egypt out of their hearts.