“Blessed be 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 from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.” (Luke 1:68–71)
Notice two remarkable things from these words of Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, in Luke 1.
First, nine months earlier, Zechariah could not believe his wife would have a child. Now, filled with the Holy Spirit, he is so confident of God’s redeeming work in the coming Messiah that he puts it in the past tense: “he has visited and redeemed his people.” For the mind of faith, a promised act of God is as good as done. Zechariah has learned to take God at his word and so has a remarkable assurance: God “has visited and redeemed!” (Luke 1:68).
Second, the coming of Jesus the Messiah is a visitation of God to our world: The God of Israel has visited and redeemed. For centuries, the Jewish people had languished under the conviction that God had withdrawn: the spirit of prophecy had ceased; Israel had fallen into the hands of Rome. And all the godly in Israel were awaiting the visitation of God. Luke tells us that another old man, the devout Simeon, was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). Likewise, the prayerful Anna was “waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).
These were days of great expectation. Now the long-awaited visitation of God was about to happen — indeed, he was about to come in a way no one expected.