We are reading in Luke Chapter 1 verses 57 – 80, where we read of the birth of the baby who grew up to become known as John the Baptist. So much has been going on - we have looked at some of those events which happened over these weeks and months, as God was preparing the way for John and Jesus to walk onto the world’s stage.

Angels - appearing in the Temple - and to Mary at Nazareth - the reactions of the individuals involved - the meeting of Elizabeth and Mary - so much was going on.

Time has come for Elizabeth to give birth to John. It is a real family affair. The neighbours and relations are so pleased. They are all rejoicing. God had been so good to bless Zechariah and Elizabeth in this way. They realised that God had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

But within a week everything changes - turning a little sour - a little bitter - as members of the family did not understand what was actually happening. They were unaware of how God was moving afresh in the world. It happened as soon as Zechariah indicated that their son would be called JOHN. Everyone else wanted a family name. They looked for a priest in the family to continue the family tradition.

If you challenge that one, expect anything! Many have challenged family and religious traditions down through the centuries and have had to pay the price, and it is not easy.

Zechariah was not a man to follow the tradition of the family - but to follow God - and to do what God had said.

Now, remember that for these past 9 months Zechariah had been dumb. He signalled for a writing pad, and Zechariah writes, HIS NAME IS JOHN.

As soon as you step out of line - as soon as you begin to behave differently - some people’s superficial joy can fade fast, and disappear quickly. The family members are surprised. Some are rather shocked. They did not expect something like this to occur.

Zechariah’s tongue is loosed. He begins to speak again, and all he wants to do is praise God. He didn’t say, “I’m glad that’s over.” Nor did he argue with those who were objecting. He praised God!

Some then became a bit afraid, but The LORD was with the little boy, and father Zechariah was filled with The Holy Spirit.

He is prophesying. When you are filled with The Holy Spirit, it is quite normal to overflow at the mouth, and what comes out of the mouth of Zechariah are words from God.

It is all about GOD - all about salvation - all about mercy. Here we see what is at the very heart and core - Salvation from GOD - and – God the Father being merciful.

Verse 68. God is visiting Israel. God is visiting His People - to redeem them - to rescue them from their sins - to buy them back ultimately with the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God - Who is as yet unborn - but the plans and purposes of our God - are unfolding. They are being worked out in His Perfect Timing.

Zechariah is saying, Lord, what YOU said through the prophets all these years ago - what YOU said through men like Isaiah, Micah and Malachi - is now all coming true.

Verse 71. God’s people are going to be saved from their enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us. God is showing mercy - and what mercy that is - what blessing that is - to be saved from your enemies - and from the hand of all who hate you.

That is one of God’s promises, which we seldom mention.

When you serve the living God - when you serve the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ, you will have enemies. Make no mistake about that. Our God wants to rescue us and save us from our enemies from the hand of those who might hate us enough to want to do us harm.

All over the world today, there are disciples of Jesus Christ who are hated and detested and who are experiencing severe and sore persecution.

Take time to remember them, and align yourself with them in some practical meaningful way, through the agencies that have been raised up to minister to those who are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ and His Word.

Over these past months we have seen events take place across Europe that many did not expect. Friends and colleagues have spoken about invasion and even occupation.

Whatever the circumstances, when this is published, make sure you have prepared, and be prepared to stand for Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and His holy, authoritative, authentic Word, as we have it in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament.