The Benedictus, the Song of Zechariah, works on two levels: one is the big picture—the celebration that God has sent a savior for Israel. But it’s also just a parent’s prayer for their child and what God’s desire for him is. “You my child, shall be the prophet of the most high, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.”
What is the hope in this… how do our children relate to the big picture? What are our expectations of them—our hopes for them? For Zechariah, he knows that John is a prophet, is sent to prepare the way, and to give knowledge of salvation. He gets a head start on most of us. But he gets at why we want our children to do things and what we want to teach them. Zechariah knows that John’s upbringing will train him to prepare for Jesus. Growing up in the wilderness he will be humble and tough and unattached to social status or ego. John will always be pointing to someone else.
How do I pray for Nathan, my son? He’s two… so it’s all potential. I have no idea how he will relate to the big picture. But some of what Zechariah sings about rings true for me—especially about prophecy. We named Nathan “Nathan” for a variety of reasons, but one was because to me, the biblical prophet Nathan is the hopeful example of a prophet who can speak the truth to power and be heard and effective. I find many of the Hebrew prophets frustrating because even though they say beautiful things, their messages of repentance and reform are never heeded. Their messages of restoration and future hope are what inspire. The prophet Nathan does both. He is artful and crafty and wise and so King David heeds him. I would love for Nathan to be a prophet like that because it’s so hopeful. The ministry of the prophet is not to prophesy doom, but to draw the people of God closer to God. Nathan the prophet does that by truth telling; John the Baptist does that by preaching repentance; who knows how Nathan Linman will do it.
Question 4: What is our prayer for our children?