Monday, March 26, 2018

The God Who Visits

Blessed is the Lord, God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people” (Luke 1:68 NKJV).

When the Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth, she prophesied to Mary (Luke 1:41ff.). When the Spirit came upon Mary, she sang a prophetic song (Luke 1:46ff.). Now we find that Zechariah “was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied” a song (Luke 1:68–79). The opening word of this song in Latin is Benedictus, Blessed, and the Song of Zechariah is known as the Benedictus. This song has also been used in the worship of the church since the earliest days of the Christian faith.

One of the themes of the Song of Zechariah is the visitation of God. We find it mentioned again in verse 78: “Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven.” The theme of God’s visitation is one of the richest in the entire Scripture. The people of Israel looked forward to those moments when God would come to visit His people.

The Greek word for 'visit' is episkopeo, from epi and skopeo. The word skopeo we have in English as scope, while epi simply intensifies the idea of the word. The type of visit that is in view, however, is not that of a causal, drop-in appearance, but means a visit that involves a careful scrutiny of the situation. Bishops are called episcopos because they are the overseers of the flock of God. They are called to visit the sick, the imprisoned, the hungry. They are given the care of God’s people.

The New Testament calls Jesus the “Bishop of our souls.” He is the Bishop Incarnate. His visit to this world was cloaked in mystery and has changed the course of history. He came not as a military general, but as a baby in a rock-hewn crib. But He came to care for our souls. He came with divine blessing and redemption. For those who love His coming, His next visit will be an occasion of unspeakable joy and glory. At the visit, the consummation of His Bishop’s task will be complete.

When we become God’s children, we serve as God’s ambassadors. In this way, through us, God continues to visit people in our world. Consider who you can visit this week to bring the joy and peace of Christ—an aged church member, a lonely friend, a prison inmate, a neighbor.