Elizabeth, descendant of the first Hebrew high priest, Aaron, was married to the priest Zacharias*. Both were righteous before God and kept His commandments, but in their old age, had no child because Elizabeth was barren. (Luke 1:5-7) Little did they know, God had chosen Elizabeth to bear a child, who would grow into a prophet and prepare the way for the Messiah. Yet, at this point, an impossible baby and the Messiah seemed so far away, the subjects of aching, unanswered prayers.
Now Zacharias the priest was serving in the temple when an angel appeared, telling Zacharias his prayers had been heard and his wife would bear a son, whom they were to name John. (Luke 1:13)
The angel revealed, “And he [John] will go before him [Jesus] in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.” (Luke 1:17)
Lost in his disappointment with God, Zacharias scoffed, having long since abandoned the dream of children. He couldn’t see past the couple’s physical limitations, but the angel assured him God’s promise would be fulfilled. As a result of unbelief, Zacharias would be mute until the child’s birth. (Luke 1:18-20)
Elizabeth’s faith, that had grown from a lifetime of surrendered waiting to the Lord, was made manifest in the actions she chose after she conceived. Elizabeth entered seclusion to be with the Lord and ready herself for the special child she would bear and raise, God’s prophet. The Lord gave her an unexpected blessing, a miracle in her later years.
God had a purpose for her and her son.
In her waiting, God had grown Elizabeth’s faith and her reliance on Him. This faith was evidenced in her words upon encountering her cousin, Mary, who was miraculously pregnant with the Messiah:
“The Lord has done this for me. He has looked with favor in these days to take away my disgrace among the people.” (Luke 1:25) Where Zacharias scoffed, Elizabeth responded with assured confidence in God. She knew God saw her and answered her prayers.
Centuries earlier, God had rescued another woman from the societal shame of barrenness. In Genesis 30:22-24, God opened Rachel’s womb, blessing her with Joseph. In their culture, it was the duty of women to provide children, especially a son, to their husbands; can you imagine years of desperate prayers, silence from heaven, and the condemnation of those around them?
Thankfully, God is our redeemer, and just as He redeemed Rachael and Elizabeth by giving them children and taking away their disgrace, God has a much bigger plan for how He will take away our disgrace, too.
Our disgrace comes not from barrenness, but from the stain of sin on our souls. We are born into this fallen world with sin, and only through Jesus are we spotless before God. Through Jesus’ propitiatory death and victorious resurrection, Jesus destroyed the power of sin and death. One day He will wipe away our tears and remove our disgrace from all the earth. (Isaiah 25:8) Until that day, He sent His Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us in our waiting.
Not many were filled with the Holy Spirit before Christ’s death and Pentecost. (Acts 2) But God filled Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit when Mary visited her. Her babe leaped within her womb and she responding to the Spirit by crying out and blessing both Mary and the Messiah growing within her. (Luke 1:42-45)
Zacharias was still silenced.
John the Baptist was yet unborn.
Still, faith’s forte underscored a heart of devoted worship.
Elizabeth proclaimed her belief in the word of God effectively becoming the first prophetic voice, and a female at that, to break the 400 years of silence from the God who had now come near. Remarkable!
God always keeps His promises, and obedience brings beautiful blessings.
Elizabeth and Mary were blessed to be a part of God’s divine plan.
Both women allowed faith to be the forte of their lives as they trusted the Lord with great humility, immediately pointing back to Him as His promises were being fulfilled. We see Elizabeth’s influence at work as she raised John the Baptist to be humble, to believe God’s promise of a Savior, and to serve as a forerunner, pointing people to Jesus rather than himself.
Sisters, God also calls us to fill our roles in His kingdom with humility, trust, and faith. We can live out our faith boldly and genuinely in our communities and circles of influence.
While waiting for Christ’s return, let’s ask God to teach us about faith and patience, just as He did for Elizabeth. We can have faith that in every season, even when we don’t understand His plan, God sees us, is for us, and always keeps His promises.
Looking back on Elizabeth’s song, we see that God wrote her song, the melody, and holy words; no detail was overlooked or too difficult to master as He orchestrated His plan to bring about our salvation through the shed blood of Christ on our behalf!
*Zacharias or Zechariah may appear in your Bible text; both translations of the Hebrew name point to the same man.
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