Category Archives: Answering Your Questions

Horn of Salvation

Question:  “What does the Bible means when it refers to the “horn of salvation” in Luke 1:69?  And how does the image of a “horn” apply to the Messiah?”  – K. in India

Answer:  Let’s first look at the verse itself:

“[The Lord] has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David…”(Luke 1:69 NKJV).

This verse is from the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise about the coming birth of the Messiah.  This canticle of worship is full of allusions to Old Testament images and prophecies of the Messiah.  One of these is referring to the coming Messiah as the “horn of salvation.”  What does this mean?

The Hebrew language is full of imagery, metaphor and allusion.  Often a concept or principle is presented by a particular image.  The use of the word “horn” is one example.  To the Hebrew mind a horn was a picture of strength, power, might and ability.  To understand this, think of animals that have horns—bulls, rams, he-goats and stags.  These are strong animals, and they use their horns to display their power.  Therefore, when the Scriptures say that God “has raised up for his people a horn” (Psalm 148:14), it signifies that the Lord has made His people strong.  Again, the strength of a group of people may be illustrated by the picture of a bull’s horns (see Deuteronomy 33:17).  To have multiple horns indicates a person of great power (Daniel 7:7-8).  For God to lift up or exalt your horn means that He makes you strong and gives you power (see Psalm 89:24, 92:10).  It may also indicate that God honors you and establishes you, making you to prosper (see Psalm 112:9, Ezekiel 29:21, Micah 4:13).

The use of the word “horn” in Luke 1:69 may be a direct reference to Psalm 132:17 where we see a Messianic prophecy: “Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one” (NIV).  Here the descendant of David, the Messiah, is shown as coming from David’s line, and he will be a man of power and strength.

The idea of horn is also strongly tied to royalty, the idea of kingship.  Indeed, the word “horn” is sometimes used as a euphemism for the king himself (see Psalm 132:17, also cf. Jeremiah 48:25, Daniel 7:8).  This use of horn as a royal symbol is probably due to two things.  First, there is the idea of the king sitting in power and regal might.  He is the strong one, who in his great power guards and protects the nation.  A good king is a strong king.

The second image is probably derived from the coronation of a king in ancient Israel.  Kings were anointed servants of God (literally “messiahs”).  The sign of their call from God, and their appointment by God, was the ceremony of anointing.  Here a prophet or a priest would take a hollowed-out animal horn that was full of anointing oil, and would pour it upon the head of the new king (see 1 Samuel 16:13, 1 Kings 1:39).  Indeed, the king only became a king when he was anointed by a horn of anointing oil.  So the horn itself became a symbol of the king and his authority.

To return to our text (Luke 1:69), to refer to the Messiah as bringing the “horn of salvation” signifies the great power of the salvation that He brings.  His salvation is mighty and effective.  This further may be extended as indicating that He is a mighty Savior himself.  Indeed, this is how this verse is rendered in some translations: “He has sent us a mighty Savior” (New Living Translation).  Mary is both calling her unborn Son a mighty Savior, and saying that the salvation He brings will be powerful and strong.  This is also a subtle reference to the Messiah as being the Lord himself, God in the flesh, for it is the Lord God who is our “horn of salvation” (Psalm 18:2).

In conclusion, to refer to the Messiah as the “horn of our salvation” speaks of His great power and strength in performing His work.  He is the mighty Savior, who is able to “save to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25).  There is no limit to our Savior, and there is no one He cannot save.  No sin is too great, and no sinner too bad, that the mighty Savior, the Horn of our Salvation, cannot reach him and bring him to redemption.  Such is the greatness of our Lord.

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Are Goats Devilish?

Question: “I have a question, for a lot of religions goats seem to be the main way that they view their gods. Also in Matthew 25:33 it talks about how Jesus will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. So my question is, why are goats looked down on and used as demonic symbols. Thank you.”  N in Tennessee

My Answer:  Good question.  A couple of thoughts.  In many ancient cultures, the Hebrews among them, goats were a common sacrificial animal, along with sheep.  This may probably be simply because goats were so common.  Many people raised goats.  This is still true today.  Indeed, it is believed that goat is the most common meat eaten worldwide.  Anyway, goats would have become associated with certain gods through the practice of offering them as a sacrifice.

For early Christians goats became associated with the devil and evil for two reasons.

1) The first is the teaching of Jesus you mentioned.  Those who were judged and condemned by Christ were the “goats” on his left hand.  Jesus wasn’t probably trying to make goats seem evil.  In fact, the Jews would not have considered goats as necessarily evil at all.  For example, goats were a legitimate sacrificial animal, and appropriate to sacrificing to the Lord.  We usually think of the Passover offering as being a sheep, and it generally was.  However, a goat was also acceptable (see Exodus 12:5).  Rather, Jesus was stressing the idea of separation of the righteous from the ungodly, just as a farmer would separate flocks of sheep and goats.  However, the condemnation of the ungodly on his left caused goats to be associated with evil in the minds of many people.  It is also interesting to note that in many cultures the left hand is associated with evil.  Indeed, the very word “sinister” comes from the Latin word for “left.”

2) There were some pagan gods that were associated with goats.  Prominent among them was Pan, the forest deity that was half man and half goat.  Pan was a popular god among the common people.  Farmers and rural people frequently identified with this wild deity of the countryside.  It should be noted that in the days of the Roman Empire the church grew first and foremost in the cities.  The rural people largely remained pagan.  Indeed, the word “pagan” originally meant a country dweller.  Since the early Christians rightly considered idolatrous gods as demons, Pan and satyrs (goat-men) became associated with false worship and honoring demonic gods.  Then gradually the horns and cloven hooves of Pan were transferred to images of the Devil himself.  In the Middle Ages Satan was often depicted as being a horned creature.  Sometimes he was goat-like in appearance.  At other times he appeared more like a wolf, or even some type of fantastic bird-headed beast.  Yet the horns and cloven hooves were pretty consistently featured.

In modern times Satanists and devil worshipers have capitalized on this tradition and taken the goat head as a common symbol.  Indeed, the most common image used by the Church of Satan is a goat’s head within a pentagram.  Historically this is rooted not only in ancient and medieval images of a goat-like Devil, but in the literature of 19th century occult literature.  It was asserted the “god of the witches” as the so-called Goat of Mendes. This was a winged and goat-headed hermaphroditic figure with a pentagram on its forehead.

The bottom line should be this:  Although as a symbol goats have commonly become associated with the devil in religious and occult symbolism, actually there is nothing inherently evil about these creatures made by God.  Indeed, anyone that I know who has ever owned goats loves them.  They are said to be gentle, intelligent animals that people enjoy raising.

Eternal Son of God?

Q:  The Bible does not use the expression “the eternal Son of God.”  Does this mean that Jesus was not the “Son” before he came to earth?  Is he eternally the Son of God?  Or is this a role he assumed in the plan of salvation?

A:  This is an interesting question.  There are two schools of thought regarding this matter.  There are some who believe that the preexistent Christ existed only as the Logos, or Word of God.  As a member of the Trinity, he was a distinct Person himself.  However, he was not the “Son” of God.  The Father/Son relationship within the Godhead only came about through an act of God in time, most likely at the Incarnation.  The other position is that two of the three divine Persons in the Trinity exist in an eternal relationship of Father and Son within the Godhead.  For all eternity the Father has been the Father, and the Son has been the Son.  The real issue is what do the Scriptures say?  I believe that the Bible is clear that the Logos has always been the Son of God.  Let me explain why I say this. Continue reading

Jesus Said No

Q:  I hear a lot of teaching on boundaries in relationships.  Also, people tell me I need to learn to say “no” more often.  I am curious… is this consistent with what the Bible teaches about service and sacrifice?  Aren’t we supposed to prefer our brother, and yield to others?  – S. in Virginia

A:  This is a very good question.  There has been quite a bit of teaching on boundaries in recent decades.  Several best-selling books have been published on this subject.  Seminars and classes are offered for interested Christians.  So, is this biblical?

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Is Reincarnation in the Bible?

Question:  Does the Bible teach reincarnation?  For example, wasn’t John the Baptist the reincarnation of Elijah?

My Answer: A brief answer is simply, no.  But let’s explore this a little bit. Continue reading