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Luke 1:39-56

1. The Historical ContextJoT
"The Magnificat" (1:39-45,56)
a.(1:39-45) The Visit of the
Mother of the Savior with the
Mother of the Forerunner
(1). The Reason for the Visit
After Marywas informed by Gabriel
of the miraculous
conception ofjesus
in her womb, she
uaveled to visit
Elizabeth, perhaps
at the suggestion of
Gabriel himself.
a godly older
woman, a dear
friend, a close
relative, an under-
standing person,
with whom she
could discuss the
extrl1.ordinary and '
sacred things ,she
had ,recendy experienced. Perhaps
she,needed to go to someone who had
also been miraculously blessed by God.
At this point, who else could she talk
to' about hetpregnancy, beinga virgin?
S h ~ could not even talk to joseph yet?
(Z). The Response of Elizabeth
to the News of the Incarnation
(a). The Emotional and Spiritual
Response 0 f Elizabeth
When Elizabeth heard Mary's voice
greeting her In her own house, "Elizabeth
was filled with the Holy Spirit' and "cried
out with a laud voice." Obviously she is
and magnificent revelation ofMary. "The
Holy Spitit, the prophetic Spirit of the
old covenant, seizes her, and she salutes
Mary as the mother of the Messiah."-
Godet in Geldenhuys.
(b). The Verbal Response:
The Song of Elizabeth
Elizabeth's little song is the first of
five songs praising God for the
incarnation of Christ. In all five--{he
song of Elizabeth, of Mary, of Zacharias,
of the Angels and ofSimeon--{he Lord
God is the object of adoration and
praise, 1:43, 46-55, 68-73, 78, 79;
2: 14,30-32. This attitude of worship
is accompanied with astonishment,
awe and humility, 1:43,48,52,77-79:
2:29. "Elizabeth nobly and voluntarily
placed herself in the background arid
acknowledged unreservedly and
joyfully that her younger relative had
received infinitely more honor than
she." - Geldenhuys
[11. The Blessedness of Mary (1:42)
Mary is divinely blessed because
the Lord has chosen her to be the
mother of the Messiah. Her son is
blessed because He is the Messiah.
"Blessed" means more than "Happy."
"Happy" indicates how a person feels.
"Blessed" indicates what a person is. A
person is blessed when God's favor
rests upon him, and when the Lord
delights in him.
[21. The Exalted Motherhood
of Mary (1:43)
"Through the supernatural
enlightenment of the Holy Spirit
10 f THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon f July! August 1993
Elizabeth recognizes in Mary the
mother of the promised Redeemer
whom she calls, 'my Lord,'Psa. 110:1.
joyfully and wholeheartedly she
acknowledges that a much great honor
has been conferred on Mary than on
her. But Elizabeth shows no sign of
jealousy." -Geldenhuys
Elizabeth, the godly ]ewess,
descendant of Aaron, married to a
priest, calls Mary, i'the mother of my
Lord." Every other time the name,
"Lord," is used in Luke's narrative thus
far, it refers to
jehovah, the
covenant Lord of
Israel, the God of
the Old Testa-
ment: and Creator
of the world, 1:9,
11,15, 16, 17,25,
28, 32, 38, 46.
Why did she refer
to the unborn child
of Mary as "the
Lord," i.e., jeho-
vah, which she did
in fact when she
addressed Mary as
"the mother of my
Lord?" AnSwer: Elizabeth believed
the prophecies of Malachi 3: If; Mal.
4.1, which were used by Gabriel to
define the purpose of the life. of her
unbornson,John.john the Forerunner
would prepare the way for "the
Messenger of the Covenant," in whom
the Lord would come to His Temple to
judge His people.
Elizabeth is the first person in the
New Testament to give public
testimonytoJesus Christ as the One in
Whomj ehovah intervened into history
to save His people. She is the first
songstress of the dawning of the
redemptive kingdom of Christ.
To call Jesus, "Lord," is to
acknowledge His divine authority and
to submit to His will, 5:8; 10:17,40;
11:1; 12:41; 17:37; 22:33, 38, 49.
Isaiah 9:6, he says that this messianic
child is none otherthan "Mighty God."
Jeremiah says this Davidic sprout will
be Jehovah Himself, Jer. 23:6.
[3]. The Faith of Mary (1:45)
"Blessed is she who believed that there
would be a fulfillment of what had been
spoken to her by the Lord," 1:45. Mary
was a woman of truefaith. She believed
what Gabriel told her, and she was
confident it would come to pass. Notice
it is the Lord who spoke to her in
Gabliel telling her that He, the Lord,
would become incarnate in her womb.
Lenksi observes in his commentary,
Interpretation of Luke: "It is wolth
while to note that the Holy Spirit
actually filled an unborn baby, vs. 15,
and that the baby even responded to
the Spirit'S presence and gracious
power, vs. 44. It it unwarranted, then,
to assume that spiritual effects can be
wrought only when the mind is already
developed so as to be able to
understand to some degree."
(4). The Purpose ofthis Incident
in the Narrative
and the Celtainty of Faith
The copious use of the title "Lord" for
Jesus is characteristic of the book of
Luke. This title, "Lord," implies that
"Jesus stood to His disciples for
whatever the title, "Lord," meant to
them. Thereisinvolvedinit, celtainly,
the recognition of His Messianic
dignity; and there is included,
therefore, the recognition of Him of all
that they saw in His Messianic dignity.
- ... He was thought of as "lord" in
contrast to the earthly potentates who
were claiming lordship of men, and
especially in contrast with the emperor
of Rome, the "lord" by way of
eminence in all men's minds.
'Jesus is Jehovah
in our humanity."
- The simplest thing to say is
that the term "Lord" was
applied to Jesus by Luke
o bviousl y with the deepest
reverence and obviously as the
expression of that reverence.
The Great Reversal in
Christ about which Mary sings
in the Magnificat has already
begun in Mary and Elizabeth.
Who would have expected that
the testimony of two obscure
women-an older, barren
The full height of this reverence may
be suggested to us by celtain passages
in which the term "Lord" occurs in
citations from the O.T., where its
reference is to Jehovah, though in the
citations it seems to be applied to
Jesus .... "-Warfield. Hence, the
conclusion: Jesus is Jehovah in our
This strand of belief that the Messiah
would be God Himselfin human flesh
has been the hope of God's people all
the way back to Eve, the wife of Adam.
In Genesis 4: 1, when Eve found she
was pregnant with Abel, she said,
believing the promise of Genesis 3: 15
that her seed would triumph over evil:
"I have gotten a manchild, even
Jehovah." Edward Mack of old Union
Seminary, Richmond Va., has shown
that this is the most accurate way of
translating Eve's statement from the
Hebrew. He points out that it is the
same construction as is found in verse
two, where we read that "she gave
birth to his brother, even Abel.
Furthermore, in lsaiah 7: 14, we see
Isaiah's hope that the virgin-born
Savior would be Immanuel; and in
(3). The Response of Unborn John
to the News of the Incarnation
"WhenMarysalutesher, Elizabeth's
unborn baby leaps for joy, through the
incomprehensible working of the Spirit
of God, to salute the Son of God who
has been conceived in the virgin's
womb by the power of that same
Spirit." -Geldenhuys. This "leaping for
joy" meant that the unborn infant
forerunner in Elizabeth's womb had
suddenly become aware of the presence
of the unborn infant messenger of the
covenant, the MeSSiah, who was in
Mary's womb. Commenting on verse
44 Dutch commentator S. Greijdanus
writes: "The statement concerns an
operation of the Holy Spirit which
caused Elizabeth's child to feel,
experience, and know that the mother
of the Lord, and within her the Lord
himself, was present here and now,
and which caused that child to leap
forward toward the Lord with a dance
of joyful jubilation. - By means of
this action Elizabeth's child also
acknowledged his inferiority to MalY's
Child." -quoted by Hendriksen.
women, married to one of the
many, many priests ofthat day, and a
young woman from a small,
insignificant country village-would
be the basis of understanding of the
incarnation, the most im POltant event
in history. We might have chosen
someone of fame and reputation. "But
God has chosen the foolish things of the
world to shame the wise, and God has
chosen the weak things of the world to
shame the things which are strong, and
the base things of the world and the
despised, God has chosen the things that
are not, that He might nullify the things
that are, that no man should boast before
God," I Cor. 2:27-29.
b. (1:56) The Depalture
of Mary for Home
While they were together Mary and
Elizabeth surely sang, prayed,
meditated, and discussed the
miraculous things promised to them
and already coming to pass. Surely
they also informed Zacharias, vs. 67-
68. Mary left Elizabeth before the
bilth ofJohn the Forerunner, because
this event would draw a large crowd of
people, and being a virgin, pregnant
July! August 1993 " TIlE COUNSEL of Chalcedon " II
with the Messiah, which no one but
she and Elizabeth knew, she would
naturally prefer not to be there and
have to answer all their questions and
face all their "looks."
2. The Nature and Purpose oj
"The Magnificat" ({46-55)
a. The Poetry and Music of
''The Magnificat"
" .. .it does not surprise us that in the
twilight of the Old Testament
dispensation and in the morning
splendor of the New . Testament
dispensation we hear various persons,
favored by God, burstingfonh in song.
- "Luke, the artist, bas
gathered and coUected,
under the guidance of
the Holy Spirit, the
stories which reveal the
fact thatwhenJesus came
into the world poetry
expressed itself and
music was reborn.'
(Morgan) - No one
but the sensitive and
syritpathetic physician,
Luke, was so obviously
the right person to collect
the data written down in
"A regal majesty reigns throughout
this hymn of praise." -Geldenhuys
"The Maguificat," named such
because that is the first word of the
song in Latin, is a beautiful lyrical
poem, almost wholly'made up of Old
Testament quotations. It is comprised
offourstanzaS, 46-48, 49- 50, 51-53,
and 54-55. It is not a reply to Elizabeth,
nor is it addressed to God. It is a
meditation, a Spirit-inspired
expresSion of personal emotions,
expressions, faith and hope. It is more
calm and majestic than the song of
Elizabeth. This hymn is modeled after
the Psalms and the Song of Hannah in
lSamuel2:1-10. "Prom childhood the
Jews knew many of the O.T.lyrics by
hean; ... 50 Mary would naturally fall
back on the familiar expressions of
Jewish Scripture in this moment of
intense exultation." -Plummer
"The Magnificat shows an intensive
study on the pan of the Virgin Mary of
the whole of the Old Testament, and
an imaginative and perceptive fusion
of its prophecies into a faithful and
unified summary."-Rushdoony, Law
and Society, pg. 601.
b. The Old Testament Flavor of
"The Magnificat"
The Old Testament flavor of Mary's
Magnificat is most clearly seen when it
is compared with O.T. passages:
(1). [1:46-481 The First Stanza-
--I Sam. 2:1; I Sam. 1:11.
(2).[1:49-501 The Second Stanza-
-Gen. 30:13; Deut. 10:21;Psa. 111:9;
(3).[1:51-531 The Third Stanza-
-Psa. 98:1; Job 12:19; 5:11; I Sam.
2:7; Psa. 107:9.
(4). [1:54-551 The Pourth Stanza--
-!sa. 41:8; Psa. 98:3; Mic. 7:20; II
Sam. 22:51.
c. The Purpose and Theme of
"The Magnificat"
Mary's Magnificat is the
"contemporary" revelation of God
explaining the meaning of the binh of
Jesus. (See sermon entitled, "Revelation
and HiStory in the Gospel. ")
12 ~ THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon ~ July/ August 1993
"It declares that tlie birth of the
Messiah is the sign of victory. The
King, God incarnate, comes to claim
His Kingdom, to dethrone all His
enemies, reverse all the priorities of
men to establish in their stead His
priorities and will, and to rule in
strength, mercy and grace. Mary put
together the various promises of the
O.T. in a joyful hymn of triumph. -
She echoes the Song of Hannah, I Sam.
2: 1, the Psalms, Malachi, 3: 12, Genesis
17:7, the whole spirit of the Torah,
(the Law), Isaiah, and much more.
"However, she sees the meaning of
these prophecies, not in te.rms of
herself, or In terms of her
Son as u ~ h but in terms
of the world and its
history: A m.ighty
reversal of all things is
marked by the birth of
her Son. S ~ e sees the
whole of Christ's future
accomplishment, the
finished historical work,
in a joyful summing up
of its implications.
"Moreover, not for a
moment is she thinking
in her song about heaven,
or the new creation after
the Last Judgment. Her attention is
entirely focused on history, .on Wllat
shall happen before the end of history
because her child is born. It is not that
she doubted the reality of heaven, but
heaven was already heaven whereas
the world, created to be God's paradise
for man, was now a wilderness of sin.
It was in this wilderness of sin that the
Messiah was to work, making it once
again into God's paradise of
righteousness and obedience."-
Rushdoony, Law and Society, pg. 601.
Jehovah would accomplish this
through His incarnate Son, Jesus
(1). In Christ, God's redemptive
mercy will be bestowed "on them that
fear him from generation to
generation: Lk. 1:50. "God, in telms
of His covenant mercy and promises,
brings forth Hissalvation in the person
of His Son, born to redeem man from
the consequences of the Fall, from the
power of sin and death. The emphatic
emphasis of the covenant is on God's
grace and mercy." - Rushdoony, pg.
(2). In Christ, God's electing grace
is magnified and applied to God's
chosen people, Lie 1 :46-48.
(3). Mary'sblessedness
is the staning-point and
foundation of a world-
wide change, 1:49. "She
was blessed indeed, and to
be called such, but we
cannot isolate the blesSing
to Mary: Mary declares
that all generations will
call her blessed because
all generations shall know
the grace and mercy of God
through her Son."-
Rushdoony, pg. 603. Mary
recognizes that because she
has been blessed, the
whole world is to be redeemed and
blessed through her Son! Mary was
blessed because the incarnate Lord
whom she carried in her womb was
blessed, yea, the source of all blessing.
As Calvin writes: "Mary was Blessed,
because, embracing in her hean the
promise of God, she conceived and
brought forth a Savior to herself and to
the whole world."
"Mary does not say that all
generations are going to consider her a
Mediatrix, and as such a legitimate
object of Hyperdulia, i.e., veneration
of the Virgin Mary as holiest of
creatures. What she means is that all
generations are going to praise God
because of the marvelous manner in
which he has honored her."-
(4). The consequences of the
blessing of Mary to be the mother of
the Lord are the over-turning of all
things by her Son, the great reversal of
everything, promised by God in Ezekiel
21:27. "The world of politics, social
orders, and the realms of thought will
beinc1uded in this radical ovenurning,
Lk. 1:51-55."-R.].R., pg. 603.
Mary's Magnificat clearly echoes
Hannah's Song on the binh of Samuel,
I Sam. 2:1-10. A comparison of the
Song of Hannah with the Magnificat of
Mary makes clear that Mary saw the
meaning of her pregnancy in terms of
Hannah's prophecy. ''In the birth of
her child, given to God before bilth to
be a Nazirite from birth, Hannah saw
a type of the birth of the Messiah, and
the great ovenuming to beinaugurated
by Him. She predicts total victory:
'The adversaries of the Lord shall be
broken to pieces,' and Marysang of the
glorious beginning of this world-wide
victOlyinherwomb. - All who share
in that victOlY must indeed call the
Virgin Mary 'blessed,' because she
witnesses, first, to the greatness of
electing grace in her own person,
and second, because through her came
He who is accomplishing the mighty
reversal of all things, and God's work
of restoration. To have a part in the
life of the Son is to have a part in the
work of restoration." -Rushdoony, pg.
tllxpll13itinn llf

(Luke 1:46-55)
1.(1:46-48) The First Stanza:
The Gratitude of the Heart
for the Lord and Savior
A. The Soul-Full Magnifying
of the Lord
1. The Lord Mary Praised
In a restful, dignified, and informed
tone, Mary magnifies in
praise and adoration the
greatness of the Lord,
Whom she had worshiped,
about Whom she had read
in the Old Testament, Who
had dealt mercifully with
her, Who had spoken to
her in Gabriel, and Who
was about to visit the earth
through her virgin womb.
Remember she is the
mother- of the humanity of
the Lord.
2. The Lukan Motif of
This "singing gospel" is dominated
by ecstatlcjoy and exuberant praise
that the Kingdom and Salvation of
God have dawned in]esus Christ, and
that having begun, they will advance,
until they are fully consummated. The
cause of this joy and praise in Luke's
Gospel is God at work bringing
salvation to people in Christ.
B. The Spirit-Ful! Rejoicing in
God My Savior
From the depths of her heart she
praises God for being"God my Savior.
"Soul" and "spirit" are used
synonymously emphasizing the fact
that Mary is singing with her entire
healt and inner life. From the depths
of her being she is magnifying and
glorifying her God.
1. The Need of Mary for Salvation
When she calls God, "God my
July! August 1993 THE COUNSEL of Chalced,on 13
Savior," she is identifying herself as a provides salvation by sending His Son
sinner who stands in need of the and through Him, the Holy Spirit, Lk.
salvation from sin, objectively and ' 1:47,67; I Tim. 2:13; 4:10; Tit. 3:4"6.
subjectivelYiWhich the God of the Old The Son was born to save God's people
Testament had promised in Christ, from their sin and their enemies, Mat.
and which was now being realized in 1 :21; Lk. 1: 71, 77, and that was the
Jesus, the Savior. This verse rules out aim of His entire ministry, Lk. 19:10;
Rome's myth of Mary's immaculate In.3:17.
conception. "Mary speaks of God as As Savior,Jesus heals, Mark. 5:34;
her Savior because the angelic promise 1052' 'fi T' 213 3 67 h ds
: ,Just! es, It.: ;:" ea
of the birth of the Son of God to her is the church, Eph. 5:23 and gives
proof that God has already begun to deliverance and blessing, Phil. 3:20;
act ' and that His saving purpose Tit. 2:13. Althoughjesusneverused
includes her and is to be wrought the noun SOTER ofhimself, the people
through her.""I.H. Marshall, Luke: of Samaria recognized Him as the
Histolian and TheolOgiim. SOTER of the world, jn. 4:42, and
2. The Emphasis of Mary on Paul freely used that title, Tit. 2:13;
Salvation (as a Lukan motif) 3:6. Mostuses of SOTER occur in the
' Aswehaveseeninourintroduction pastoral and general epistles.
to' Luke's Gospel, salvation is a major "God mySavior" brings a salvation
emphasis throughout the book, whidt to the whole man in his whole world,
focuses on THE DMNE" HUMAN involving: (1). deliverance from the
SAVIOR OF THE WORLD, who came guilt, tyranny and punishment of sin;
to seek and save those who are lost. (02).victoryoverevil'sdominioninthis
The opening'reference to salvation in life; and (3). total deliverance and
Luke's Gospel is found in Mary's blessing in perfection at the second
description of GodasherSavior, 1:47. physical coming of Jesus.
In her beautiful and moving hymn, It is significant that Mary refers to
she praises God for His saving mercy God as "God my Savior" in direct
revealed to His people in the promised reference to the birth of]esus, which
binh of the lylessialt, who, would enter means "The Lord is Savior," because
the world through her human womb, "Christ jesus came into the world to save
as her son. In Him, who is to be called .. I 1 5 B B W fi ld'
sinners, Tim. : 1 .. . ar . e s
]estl$, God will be faithful in fulfilling comments on this verse are powerful
all His covenant promises. Jesus is and to the point:
$avior. He is "God my Savior"
in ourhumll-nity. . "Christ jesus came to SAVE sinners.
' Not, then, merely to prepare salvation
3. The Significance of "Saviour" ,forthem; to open to them a pathway to
(SOTER-in,Greek) salvation; to remove the obstacles in
The Greek O.T. declares that God the way of their salvation; to proclaim
is the O1;lly SOTER, lsa. as a teacher a way of salvation; to
Psa. 61:2, because Salvation offered by in1:toduce as a: ruler conditions of life
man is empty, Psa. 59:11; 107:12. ,in which dean living becomes for the
God the Father and Christ the Son are first time poSsible; to bring motives t6
both spoken of as SOTER Christ holy action to bear upon us; to break
receivessalvationfromGod,Psa.19:6; 'down our enmity to God by an
20:1" 2; and He offer" 'exhibition of His seeking love; to
salvation to the ends of the earth, manifest to'us what sin is in the sight
Zech. 9:9; 49:6, 8. IIi. the N.T., of God" and how He will visit it with
God the Father is. Savior in that He His displeasure. All these things He
14 THE COUNSEL ofChalcedon July/August 1993
undoubtedly does. But all these things
together touch but the circumference
of His work for man. Under no
interpretation of the nature or reach of
His work can it be truly said that Christ
jesus CAME to do these things. For
that we must penetrate deeper, and
say with the primitive Church, in this
faithful saying commended to us by
the apostle, that Christ jesus came to
SAVE sinners.
"He did not come to induce us to
save ourselves, or to help us to save
ourselves, or to enablt;: us to save
ourselveS. He came to SAVE us. And
it is therefore that His name was called
j eSus--because He should save His
people from their sins. The glory of
our Lord, surpassing all His other
glories to us, is just that He is our
actual and complete Savior; our Savior
to the uttermost.
"Our faith itself, thollgh it be the
bond of our union with Christ through
whiCh we receive all His blessings, is
not our savior. We have but one Savior;
and that one Saviorisjesus Christ our
Lord. Nothing that we are and nothing
that we can do enters in the slightest
measure into the groutld of our
acceptance with God. je$Us did it all.
And by doing it all He haS become in
the fullest and widest and deepest sense
the word can bear-OUR SAVIOR
For this end did He come into the
world-to SAVE sinners; and nothing
short. of the actual and complete
SAVING of sinners will. satisfy the
account of His work given by His own
lips and repeated from them by all His
apostles:: Warfield, pg. 557" 558, The
Person and Work of Chlis.t. .
C. .The Gratitude of Mary for
Her Divine Election by Grace
Mary rejoices in God her Savior
because "He has had regard for the
humble state of His bondslave," I.e.,
Mary. He has chosen her of all the
women of history to be the only one
through whom the divine"human
Savior of the world would be born.
Therefore, "from this time on all
generationswillcount (Mary) blessed"
and favored of God, because of the Son
she delivered into the world with
Mary is grateful to God for nothing
less than electing grace, of which she
is confident she is a recipient, because
of the direct revelation of God telling
her that she was chosen of God's grace
to be the mother cif the Lord. Electing
grace had been applied to her
individually, personally and
particularly. God had become Mary's
personal Savior, because He had
chosen her personally to lavish upon
her the highest of honors, although
she in no way deserved such salvation,
election or honor, because of "the
humble state of His hondslave," caused
by sin and its effects, making Mary,
and all mankind, unworthy and
undeserving of anything from God
except His judgment.
II. 0:49-50) The Second Stanza: The
Gratitude oj the Heart Jor the Display oj
Divine Peljections in Salvation
The ultimate purpose of God in
the salvation of sinners in Christ is the
display of the glory of His perfections,
Eph. 1:6,12; Rom. 11:36; I Cor. 1:29-
31; Exod. 6:7-8; 9:14-16; lsa. 5:16;
2:19; Psa. 25:7,11; 106:8.
A. The Display of
Omnipotence in Salvation
Salvation is the work of the
Almighty God, hence, it is the
revelation of His awesome power, His
omnipotence by which He
accomplishes all His holy will, without
disappointment. The effecting force
in the outstanding demonstration of
covenant salvation in the O.T., the
Exodus, was God's almighty power,
Exod. 9: 14. The gospel itself is "the
power of God for salvation to every
one who believes," Rom. 1:16. "The
preaching of the cross is to them that
are perishing foolishness, hut to us
who are being saved it is the power of
God," I Cor. 1:18. In fact, the two
perfections in God in which faith
particularly rests, besides God's grace,
is God's faithfulness and God's
omnipotence, i.e., His limitless power
to give life to the dead and to call into
being that which does not exist, Rom.
4: 17. Paul teaches us that we would
remain dead in our trespasses and
sins, unable and unwilling to believe
in Christ, were it not for God's
Sovereign exertion of omnipotence
in our lives, spilitually raising us from
the dead and enabling us to believe,
greatness of His power toward us who
believe according to the working of
the strength of His might which He
brought about in Christ, when He
raised Him from the dead." See also
God's awesome power is
miraculously revealed in Mary in the
conception caused by the over-
shadowing ofMaty by that power, and
through Mary in the salvation her Son
would bring to the world.
B. The Display of the Holy Name
of Jehovah in Salvation
In the midst of her praise to God,
Mary asserts: "Holy is His Name." God's
"name" is the revelation of the character
and will of the triune God who is
"majestic in holiness, working
wonders." Majestic in holiness is God
as He has revealed Himself through
His prophets, in His Angel, in His
written Word, and in His Son, Heb.
1: 1-2. "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God
Almighty. Glory be to Y DU, 0 Lord Most
High. May the whole earth be filled with
Your Glory. " Infinitely high and lifted
up is the Lord, above all creation and
above all creaturely weaknesses
including sin. See Psa 148 and Isa.
57:15. For Mary there was never a
greater display of the majesty, awe,
wonder-working power and holiness
ofjehovah than in the conception of
the "holy offspring", the Son of God, in
the womb of sinful Mary, without
allowing that offspring to be tainted
by her sinful nature.
"Let them praises give Jehovah,
For His name alone is high,
And His glory is exalted,
And His glory is exalted,
And His glory is exalted,
Far above the earth and sky."
(Trinity Hymnal,pg. 105.)
Marywas so deeplyim pressed with
the mighty things God had done for
herthatshe cried Out, "Holy, (infinitely
exalted) is His Name'" The miracle of
parthenogenesis! The astounding
performance of God's omnipotence!
In such a frail woman without
devastating her! Power which caused
her to rejoice! Incomparably great is
the display of His power and His mercy
in providing salvation for His people
through Jesus Chlist!
C. The Display of
Covenant Mercy in Salvation
l. The Meaning of Covenant Mercy
a. The Meaning of "Eleos-Hesed"
1n praiSing God for His "mercy
extending from generation to
generation,"Maryprobably basin mind
Psalm 103: 17-"The 10vinghindness oj
the LORDis Jrom everlasting to everlasting
on those who Jear Him, and His
righteousness to children's children." The
Greek word for "mercy," in The
Magnificat, vs. 50, is ELEOS, denoting
July! August 1993 l' TIlE COUNSEL of Chalcedon 15
God's gracious faithfulness to rescue
His people from the misery caused by
sin,Lk. 1:58;Eph.2:4;IPet. 1:3; Rom.
11:30f; TIt. 3:5. In the Greek O.T., the
Septuagint, ELEOS is mostly used for
HESED, one of the most imponant
words in the Hebrew O.T., denoting
to His people and God's faithfulness to
His covenant promises. Since that
covenant is based on Divine grace,
unmerited, uneamedand undeserved,
HESED can be translated 'grace'. God
has freely bound Himself to His people
in the Covenant of Grace in Chtist.
Those who believe in Christ may
depend on God's HESED-ELEOS to
support, nourish and rescue them
from'all their sin. God's HESED is His
faithful and merciful love which He
promised to His people in Christ.
Hence, the conception ofJesus Christ
is the outstanding display of God's
HESED to His people. And it is for this
HESED- ELEOS that Mary praises God.
b. The Meaning of
upon generation after generation"
This is O.T. language, but more
importantly,itis covenantal language,
for when God enters into 'a covenant
with a man, that bond of friendship
includes his posterity. God told
Abraham, "I will establish My covenant
between Me and you and your
descendants ("seed") after you'
throughout their generations for an
everlasting covenant, to be God' to you
and to your descendants ("seed") after
you," Gen. 17:7. IntheTenComrnand-
ments we are told that God will "shaw
His lOvinghindness to thousands (of
generations), to those who 16Ve Me and
keep My commandments," Exod. 20:6.
"Know therefore that ,the LORD your
God, He is C;;od, the faithful God, who
keeps His, covenant and His
lovingkindness (HESED) to a
thousandth generation with those who
love Him and keep His command-.
ments, " Deut. 7:9. See Psalm 78; Deut.
5:2; 29:14-15. "Great is the LORD,
and highly to be praised; and His
greatness is unsearchable. One
generation shall praise Thy works to
another, and shall declare Thy mighty
acts," Psa. 145:3,4.
In Miry's words here in verse 50, as
well as in verses 54-55, we see, as we
have pointed out in our introduction,
the covenantal context of the Gospel
According to Luke. In Luke 1:72 we
are told that the Messiah made His
appearance in history and God's
Kingdom began to dawn with His
advent, because God remembered His
holy covenant. Funhermore, these
songs of Christ's advent by Elizabeth,
Mary, Zadtatias and Simeon are full of
Covenantal phraseology, promises,
presUppOSltlOnS and" actions.
Therefore, it is obvious that we cannot
understand the meaning of the
incarnation unless we understand: (1).
the covenantal structure of the Bible,
tb.e Gospel and the history of
redemption; (2). that there is a
covenantal continuity, not dichotomy,
in the Old Testament and the New
Testament,.which is culminated and
administered in]esus Christ; and (3).
that the New Covenant in Christ is the
fulfillment and application of "the
covenants of promise" to precede it in
the O.T.-withAdam, Noah,Abraham,
Moses and David. Hence, it must be
concluded, as Stonehouse has so ably
pointed out that "the historical
realization of the Kingdom through
the appearance of Christ by no means
relaxed the authOrity of the law and
the prophets, (Le., the O.T.), Lk.
16:16,17; 24:44; Mat. 5:17f: It must
also be notecl that the transmission of
salvation through the generations of
those who belong to God continues in
theN.T.era, up to the present day and
to the end orthe world-"generation
after generation:
2. The 'Recipients of Covenant Mercy:
"those who fear Him."
16 THE COUNSEL of ChaIcedon f July! Angust 1993
It must be pointed out that the
. favor of God is bestowed, not on
everybody indiscriminately ,bu t on His
chosen people, and on them alone,
Dt. 7:9;Psa.25:1O; 103:18; Isa. 55:3,6;
57:15; Mat. 5:1- 12;]ohn 10:11,15,
28; 11:25,26. And God's people are
distingnished from the world by the
fact that they are "those who fear Him."
Paul descnbes the world as those who
have no fear of God in their heans,
Rom. 3. To "fear God" is "to cherish
reverence and respect for Him-not to
be afraid, but to honor Him lovingly
by avoiding what is contraty to His
will and by striving after what pleases
Him." -Geldenhuys
Ill. (1:51-53) The Third Stanza: The
Gratitude of the Hean for the Great
Reversal ofl!vetything in]esus Christ
A. The Crescendo of this Stanza
The climax of Mary's hymn is in
this third stanza. God has convinced
her that the promised Great Reversal
of Everything has already been
accomplished (decisively and in
principle), is being accomplished '
(progressively), and will be
accomplishecl (perfectly), by the
Intervention of God Himself into the
life of the human race in the person
of]esus Chnst. In God's choice of
two persons of humble station in
life, herself and her relative,
Elizabeth, she sees this global
reversal of everything by which
Christ will renew everything, as
already in effect and progress.
This third stanza contaiils six verbs
in the aorist tense, signifying decisive
action in past time-"has done," "has
scattered," "has brought down," "has
exalted," "has filled," and "sent away:
What is the point of the aorist teuse of
these verbs?
l. They inform us of the things
which God's omnipotence, holiness
and covenant mercy nave already
,accomplished in Christ.
2. In common Hebrew practice, needy and humble people, e.g. , Moses,
they speak of the future as already Joshua, Gideon, Ruth, Hannah, David,
past, and tell of the effects to be Isaiah, Jeremiah. There is no doubt
produced by the Messiah in history, as that He will continue to do what He
if they had been produced. Because has been doing, for God's ways do not
they are foreordained by God, and change, Mal. 3:6. Moreover, by this
absolutely certain in His mind, they divine revelation coming from Mary's
are absolutely cenain to come to pass lips in the Magnificat, God is testifying
as He has planned.
3. "Mary is thinking of
the far-reaching effects of
the blessing conferred upon
herself than of past events
unconnected with that
blessing. In either case, the
six aorists must be
translated by the English
perfect (tense)."-Plummer.
They must be translated in
such a way as to indicate
that with the birth of Christ,
these blessing are in effect
and will remain in effect
throughout history.
B. The Significance of the Great
Reversal of Everything in Christ
1. The Old Testament Roots
of this Prophecy
Stanza three is, as the rest of Mary's
Song, saturated in the Old Testament,
as 'we have seen. Compare the
Luke 1:51 Psa. 98:1; 118:15
Luke 12: 17-21;Job 5: 11
Luke 1: 53a---------Psa. 107:9
Luke 1:53b I Sam. 2:7
Mary knows her Bible. By a series
of biblical quotations and allusions,
she build her case. Throughout the
course of covenant history, God's
omnipDtence has repeatedly brought
down arrogant people, e.g., Ahab,
Jezebel, Nebuchadnezzar. "He has
dispersed them, dethroned them,
deprived them of their riches, and
driven them away empty."-
Hendriksen. Likewise, throughout
covenant history God has helped His
that He WILL "help Israel, His servant"
in Jesus Christ, the lsaianic "Servant of
God,"who will help His chosen people
by laying down His life as a ransom for
their sins, Mk. 10:45; Mat. 1:21.
Mary does not quote or allude to
O.T. passages haphazardly. She does
it after much thought, deliberately and
systematically, showing that she has a
good understanding of covenant
theology.' More specifically:
a. Mary read the O.T. covenantally
and messianically. She understood
that there is a covenant stlucture to the
Bible that must be kept in mind; and
that the focus of the Bible is Christ, her
Son. She is applying all these verses to
b. She read the O.T. as an
authoritative and prophetic revelation
of what God would aCLUaUyaccomplish
in history in the Messiah and His
2. The Meaning of the Great
Reversal of Everything in Christ
a. The Explosive Nature of
The Maginificat
There is nothing sentimental,
nostalgic or other-worldly about Mary's
Magnificat. It is radical, and is anything
but harmless. It is explosive. It speaks
of the total Christian Reconstruction
of men and nations on eanh in history.
It is a nuclear bomb
guaranteeing the destruc-
tion of all humanistic
cultures and proclaiming
the victory of biblical
Christianity over every-
thing- "far as the curse is
b. The Focus of
the Third Stanza
on the Work
Df]esUS Christ
The point of this third
stanza is this: Jesus Christ
is bringing a great reversal
in human society on earth,
and it has already begun. The power
that is accomplishing this global
reversal was introduced into history in
the incarnation of Christ. Mary saw a
great reversal of society in histDry
because of the binh of her Son. To
spiritualize Mary's words, confining
them to the spilitual Dr heavenly
realms, is to trifle with the Word of
God. What she meant is unmis-
takeable. SpirituaIize it and you must
spiritualize the incarnation about
which she speaks; and then we would
have no gospel. Either the Bible means
what it says, or it means nothing!
The Dne whD brings this great
reversal about is God in Christ. It is
nDt the state, nor the church, nDr the
schoDI, nor the scientific establishment,
nor any conspirators, nor the CDmmon
man, nDr cDnservatives, nor liberals; it
is none other than the Living GDd in
Jesus Chlist, personally, powerfully,
mercifully, magnificently and directly.
c. The Elements of
this Great Reversal
July/ August 1993 t- THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon t 17
(1). It is the over-turning of the
dominionofsin overman and history,
Rom. 5:12f; Heb. 2;Jn. 12:3l.
(2). It is the re-orderlng of all
things under the dOminion of their
King, Jesus Christ, Col. 1 and 2; Heb.
2; psa. 2.
(3). it is the gathering up of
everything in Christ, Eph. 1:10.
(4)Jt is a mighty shaking up of .
the whole world-order, Heb. 12:26f.
(5) , It is the regeneration of the
earth;Mat.19:28, beginningatChrist.'s
resurtection, when He tOok His throne
at God's right hand.
(6). It is the display of His
Omnipotence, Holiness and Mercy in
such a way that all men will know that
He is the Lord.
(7). It is the scattering and
bringing down of people and cultures
based on a prindple of revolt against
God, vs. 51-53. Theirdominancewlll
not last and their attempts at unifying
the world in its rebellion agalnst God
will not succeed. God will overturn
their efforts as easily as He did at the
Tower of Babel. This is the point of [
Cor, 1:18fI and II Cor., 10:lff. The
weapon He will use to accomplish this
scattering and bringing down is defined
in Revelation 12: 10-11.
(8): Itisthe exalting and satisfying
of the people of God. The
mighty and ungodly will be dethroned
arid the blessed meek of the Lord will
be eXalted. the hungry people of God
will be' filled and the wicked rich will
be cast Out to b"eg.
Thisreversal will be as literal and as
radical as Maty said it would be. Those
who are in power-politically,
economically, sodally-will someday
not be inpower. And those Christians
who are not in power, will someday be
in power. Those reprobate who a:Ie
will someday be
paupers; and thoSe Christians who are
in serious need 'because 'Of the wicked
culture in which they live, will someday and can do what He pleases with His
be millionaires. Thosewhoareproud personal property. He 'can and will
arid full of self-love willbe humiliated; tum out the ungodly and give the
and those who are full of God-love and kingdom to those wh.o obey Him, as
humility will be exalted. But He did with the Canaanites, any time
remember: onlythemeekwillinhertt He pleases. No huinan institutioh has
the earth! the right of emineht domain, i.e.; the
"So the Lord, in raising the lowly absolute right of i, ' governmeht to
on high, tums the world's pride to his appropriate private property for its
own. triumph, and at the same time own use: That is legalized plunder.
edUCates his own. in simpl!dty and . See Matthew 2L:43 and Isaiah. 14:22-
restraint. Now we grasp the point of 27.jesuscameintohlstory.toremove
M3.t:y's Saying. it is God who casts the present world leadership and to
down.lhemightyfrom their seats, ",nd give this auth.ority and dominion to
. raises chern oflow degree. The lesson His Christian people. See Psalm
'is, that the world is not tumedand ' 37:18-22.
spun of chance, (3). ' Christians must expect
but the reversals ' that we see are Christ's kingdom to advance, so they
ocaisioned by providence of God, mustbe prepared for thereversal by
and that God himself directs with ' enforclngthekingdom'slaws,living
its life, .believing in its power and
distUrb'lIndoverthrowthewhole order obeying its mandates, Gen. 1:28; Mat.
of the Calvin 28: 19f, confident of victory and
(9). It is the fulfilling of the success, II Cor. 10:3"6.
covenantpromi5esofthewholeBible. (4). Through Christ, and His
!fyou want to foresee the spedfic body, the Church, Almighty God
. nature of the dfects of this reversal ,will dethrone all His enemies. giving
by Christ in human society'
His people total victory, I Cor. 15:23f.
study Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy Mary's Magnificat clearly prophesies
28, a magnificent declaration of the the total victory ofjesus Christ and the
blessings and curses of th.e Covenant complete uprooting of the dty of Man.
of God, put into effect by Mary's Son. The antl- christians will be openly
d. The Implications ofthe Great ' , confounded and turned out, and the
Reversal of in Christ people of God openly brought to power
(1). The earth Is tlie property of and victory. Faith in this total victory
Jesus C!trist because He is the King of Christ through His people produces
of the universe. The earth is very and sustains in us a spiritually,
literally Christ's real estate. The fact psychologically; ' and emotionally
that njan has wrongly assumed it is his healthy disposj.tionthat keeps us calm
to buy and sell and do with as he will, and confident and humble in times of
does nOt altet.that great fact. Rather stann . . It also keeps us active and
man is Christ's steward to manage His persevering.
creation as He wills. Anything else is (5). Mail cannot rob Jesus of His
robbery and rebellion, In the great authority or His property. God
reversal Christ is dispossessing the evil always casts rebels out of His vineyard
squatters and giving the earth back to 'and grinds His enemies to dust, Mat:
the rightful heirs, those who are "heirs 21:33-44: The virgin birth' ofJesi:ts'is '
of God and joint-heirs with Christ." xhe confirmation of God's law and an
(2). Jesus, as king, has the elnphaticassertionClfChrist'sproperty
absolute right of eminent 'domain, . rights over man and the earth: ' .
18 'f' THE COONSEL of Chalcedon jillyl August 1993
IV.O:54-55) The Fourth Stanza:
The Gratitude of the Heart for the
Wonderful Future of God's
Covenant of Grace
A. The Focus of Mary on the Divine
Election of the Covenant Nation
Moving from a testimony regarding
her personal experience of God's grace
in the first stanza, Marynowconcludes
her Hymn with a reference to the divine
election of "a chosen race, a royal
priesthood, a holy nation, a people for
God's own possession, "I Pel 2:9; Exod.
19:6. In this stanza, it is not individuals,
it is a corporate people that is the
object of God's favor- "He has given
help to Israel His servant." God's
selection of her and the gift of the
Child through her was for the purpose
of "helping" that chosen people, "the
seed of Abraham," and fonhe fulfilling
of the covenant God made with
Abraham, Genesis 12-17.
Because of the apostasy and
rejection of]esus as Messiah by genetic
Israel, God abandoned her to
judgment, recreating His people into
the new Israel, the seed of Abraham,
comprised of Christ and all those who
belong to Him by faith regardiess of
ethnic origin, Gal. 3:29. The covenant
people is the church of Jesus Christ,
Ephesians 1:3f; Philippians 3: If;
Hebrews 12:22f. "There is neither Jew
nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free
man, there is neither male nor female;for
you are all onein ChristJesus. And if you
belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's
offspring (seed), heirs according to
promise."-Gal. 3:29
B. The Cause of the Incarnation:
Divine Covenant Faithfulness
Mary understood that God
intervened in histolY through the
incarnation because of the covenantal
promise He had made to the fathers,
viz. Gen. 3:15; Gen. 17:7; Isa. 7:14;
and especially to Abraham, to whom
He promised that he would have a
"Seed" who would bring salvation to
all the world's families. Paul tells us
clearly that that Seed is Jesus Christ,
Gal. 3: 16. Mary knew that her Son
would enter the world to fulfill and
administer all the covenant promises
in the life of the chosen people of God
on earth in histOlY.
C. The Time-Frame of the Fulfillment
of Covenant Promise in Chlist
MalY ends her Magnificat with the
divine promise that God in Christ will
help His chosen people "forever," or
"into eternity." Covenant mercy "still
flows forth from the throne of grace.
That covenant promise still holds,
1:72,73. It it on the basis of this
promise that believing parents have
their children baptized, Acts. 2:38,39.
The substance of the promise- 'I will
be your God'; hence, salvation full and
free-is realized in the hearts of all
those who by sovereign grace and
through God-given faith embrace
Christ as their Lord and Savior."-
Hendriksen n
"After centuriee of eilence from
Heaven, Zachariae praieee God for
once again vieiting Hie people and
revealing Himeelf to them in Jeeue
Chriet. In two eentencee he celebratee
the pereonal and cultural ealvation of
God'e people which hae begun in the
incarnation of Jeeue, the Savior who
bringe and accompliehee thie
ealvation." Luke 1:57-80
July! August 1993 ~ THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon ~ 19