78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us.
These words were part of the prophecy of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptiser. The prediction includes the ministries of both the forerunner (namely John the Baptiser) and the Messiah (namely Jesus Christ). Both of their missions were to proclaim God’s mercy to sinners.
The phrase “the tender mercy of our God” denotes God’s infinitely gentle and gracious consideration of poor creatures like us, who are lost in our sins, without any hope of escape. It depicts the deep-seated affections of God to wretched creatures like us.
God has not merely pitied us from heaven, but has also sent us relief through Jesus Christ. It is God’s tender mercy that sent Jesus to bear our sins and rescue us from all the perils of our souls. By God’s mercy, Christ has “visited us” as “the dayspring from on high”. The great visit of God’s mercy to us is the incarnation of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The word “dayspring” depicts the morning light, the aurora, the rising of the sun. The beautiful imagery here is derived from the magnificence of a spectacular sunrise. Christ’s condescension is called “the dayspring from on high” visiting us. The light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ shines forth from heaven. God is its author and through His mercy, it shines on men.
The advent of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, being here pictured as a sunrise, was a favourite metaphor with the prophets. We see it in such prophecies as those of Isaiah and Malachi. “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isaiah 60:2-3). A similar prophecy was pronounced in Malachi 4:2 – “unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings”.
The proclamation of the Gospel to any individual is a visit of God’s mercy. The “visits” of God are like the dayspring, because they end our darkness. Our night is ended once and for all when we behold God visiting us in Christ Jesus. Christ’s coming into the world is as the morning light. He is the Light “which lighteth every man” (John 1:9). Christ’s coming is as the dayspring because He brings us hope of greater glory yet to come.