72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
73 The oath which he swore to our father Abraham,
74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
1901 ASV Translation:
72 To show mercy towards, our fathers, And to remember his holy covenant;
73 The oath which he spake unto Abraham our father,
74 To grant unto us that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies Should serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
In verse 74, the Textus Receptus has both a definite article before "enemies" and the possessive pronoun "our" after "enemies; the Nestle/Aland 26 has neither. In verse 75 the Textus Receptus has "all the days of our life" where the Nestle/Aland 26 has "in all of our days". The overall meaning is unchanged, though the Textus Receptus tends toward emphasis upon our "life" which the Nestle/Aland 26 simply does not mention.
1. Luke has recorded Zacharias' perception, by the Spirit, of what God is "about". He has taken the "bigger picture perspective" in that none of the things of which he speaks are "immediately present in the life experiences" of those hearing his words. It is impossible to read these words and not come away with the impression that the works of God are to be understood in light of a bigger plan that, though it includes the daily lives of the people of God, is not readily apparent in terms of the fulfillment issues...the people are going to have to be patient and endure through hope.
2. Luke's record is of two fundamental issues: the provision of a ransom price so that we can be redeemed; and the provision of deliverance from the activities of enemies.
3. In this text, he calls these provisions "a performance of mercy" for the fathers and an indication of the fulfillment of the holy covenant He made with Abraham. This is all to result in the aforementioned, then repeated, "deliverance" from the enemies so that we can be about the business of "serving Him".
4. There are five indicators of the powerful intent of Yahweh to keep His word (His accomplishment of mercy for the fathers to whom the word was given, His remembrance that He gave His word, His entrance into a 'covenant', His identification of it as "holy", and His identification of it as "an oath").
I. The 'Remembrance' of 'His Holy Covenant'.
A. As we have seen previously, the issue of "remembering" is not a matter of "forgetfulness" when it refers to God.
1. The use of "remember" with God is somewhat misleading in that we only have our own experience to address "memory"...and it includes our inability to mentally focus upon "everything all at once" as well as our inability to even keep things that have been powerful mental focus issues "in mind" after some time has past.
2. The bottom line in "remembering" is that it sparks some form of activity to address what is "remembered" and, with God, the issue is that the activity has come to pass in the present history.
a. When God "remembers", He acts in human history.
b. His actions cause men to think He has "remembered".
c. That it is a purely human way of describing the issues nonetheless enables us to describe the "present historical action" as an outworking of something God said in past history that He would do, but did not do at that time.
B. The issue of "the holy covenant".
1. The "Holy Covenant" has both a remarkable simplicity and an awesome complexity to it.
a. The simplicity of the covenant is found in Genesis 12:1-3 where God makes a series of three promises that address every imaginable situation to which a man might be subjected.
b. The complexity of that same covenant is found in the fact that the situations of mankind can be "shaded" into an innumerable host of variations.
2. That Zacharias called it a "holy" covenant is significant in terms of what that means.
a. 'Holiness' has to do with 'an absolute commitment to an identifiable agenda'.
1) Thus, things/persons who are not morally upright can yet be said to be 'holy' if they have 'an absolute commitment to an identifiable agenda'.
2) That 'uprightness' is automatically included in things pertaining to God in conjunction with 'holiness' is rooted in the absolute reality that God's commitment, as far as man is concerned, is the integrity of His words to man/men in respect to "Life".
a) An 'absolute commitment to the identifiable agenda of producing life for those who trust in His words' is what 'holiness' is all about with God.
b) And, that life, through trust in revealed words, requires genuine love for its existence, and genuine love requires no "ungodly/unrighteous" activities...so 'holiness' with God implies moral uprightness in love.
c) So, the impact of "holy" is the communication of the inviolability of the "covenant"...it will not be abandoned.
i. This is no small issue in that Hebrews deliberately tells us that God interposed "with an oath" (which Zacharias also mentions) in order to shore up man's ability to trust in His words [Hebrews 6:16-17].
ii. The 'holiness' issue is precisely this: man can trust in the words because God has "an absolute commitment" to fulfilling them as they express His agenda.
b. "Holiness" is, in the final sense, only true of God.
1) Men are too caught up in the complexity of experience to be "holy" in the final sense of that word because they see "life" as having competing methodologies to which they must "adjust" according to the dictates of the present experience.
2) These "adjustments" create a vacillation that cannot be construed as 'holy' both because some of them are unloving (thus, immoral) and others of them call for a change from the 'holiness' of an earlier zeal.
3) The problem consists of man's ignorance (he is not omniscient and, consequently, vacillates in his 'holiness' [commitment to principles] because he cannot see the larger picture) and his disbelief (he does not trust what God has said so that, consequently, he does not wish to be 'locked into' a prescribed way of responding to the variations of experience) and his inability to "remember" what his past has told him.
3. That it is called a "covenant" is also significant because of the same overall impressions of "commitment".
a. Covenants are typically seen as a step up from just ordinary words of daily commitments [that they should not be is seen in Jesus' command to "swear not at all" and to let "yes" and "no" carry the weight of a solemn covenant].
b. So the use of "covenant" to describe Yahweh's words to Abraham is for the purpose of enhancing the expectation that it "will be" fulfilled.