In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Luke 1:5-7 NIV
During the advent season, we often focus (rightly so!) on Jesus and His birth in Bethlehem. The wonder of God becoming man is certainly worth meditating on. Mary and Joseph with God in a manger is deserving of our discussion and worship.
But Mary wasn't the only blessed mother (Luke 2:19) in this story. Less than a year before, another woman had her own miracle baby, and has much to teach us.
Elizabeth was the wife of Zechariah the priest and, eventually, the mother of John the Baptist, Jesus’ forerunner. We are not told how old this new mother was, though Luke 1:7 tells us that she and her husband were “well along in years.”
It may be my own modern perception, but this phrasing has me assuming that she was beyond (or quickly reaching the end of) childbearing age. She also knew, it seems, what other women had been saying about her before she received the gift of a son. In her society, you see, children were considered a sign of God’s blessing and favor. And Elizabeth was barren (Luke 1:7).
Despite the ridicule and lack of honor she may have experienced, she was upright in God’s sight. She continued to serve the Lord and follow his statutes (Luke 1:6). She was honoring God despite her circumstances, and despite what others thought.
How often do we follow Elizabeth’s example this way? Perhaps not as often as we should. Have you ever been criticized for following a Biblical view of parenting? For forbidding your kids certain “worldly” things? For going against popular opinion on some issue?
Have you ever let peer pressure make you bend your standards? Do you sometimes complain about, or get frustrated with, God’s plan or workings in your life? Not Elizabeth – at least not to the extent that the Lord would mention it. What an excellent model of serving God in, and despite, our circumstances. These traits, it seems, are ones she passed on to her son.
And then her circumstances changed for the better. She got pregnant and was carrying a son. She wasn’t just happy. She gave God the glory, and thanked Him for saving her from others’ shame. (Luke 1:25)
Do we remember to thank God for our blessings? I know I forget much more often than I’d like to admit. It’s entirely too easy to take the credit for what happens in our lives. And when I do, those around me get a warped view of my power and the Lord’s. And what kind of a lesson of God's power am I to them?
Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Elizabeth. Help us to stay fast in our honor and obedience to You, no matter our circumstances; and help us remember to give You the glory for all you do for us. Help us to be faithful and thankful, just like this wonderful woman of God. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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What do you need to learn from Elizabeth?
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1