67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:
68 ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a mighty saviour* for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
72 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us 74that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, 75in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
78 By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon* us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.’
80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.
Zechariah has found his voice – and he is filled with the Holy Spirit. And he speaks these words, which Luke calls a prophecy. His words of prophecy are, like Mary’s, a song of praise. He speaks of redemption for Israel, a mighty Savior of the House of David ( a descendant of David). He speaks of how the Savior will save Israel from her enemies because God has remembered his covenant with Israel.
And then he says that this child – I imagine him holding the child as he speaks, looking at the tiny newborn face – will be called a prophet, and he will go before the Lord to prepare the way; he will call to the people to repent of their sins. The people who have walked in darkness (Isaiah) will find light for their path! The dawn of a new world is breaking!
Zechariah gives a view of the gospel that Luke is introducing through the birth narratives – his view is one of fulfillment of the scriptures, redemption and salvation for Israel. Although for Zechariah, redemption is for Israel; by the end of Luke’s gospel, it will be clear that redemption is for the world.