Zacharias alludes to her name’s meaning in Luke 1:73. She bears the same name as the high priest Aaron’s wife. And it is important to note that she obeyed what God told her in naming her son John.
Now, having set the stage around Elisabeth, let's look at four observations from her life that will encourage and challenge us today:
1. Elisabeth was a Godly woman.
As a priest’s wife, she helped preserve the blessed traditions of Aaron and his descendants. Luke 1:6 calls her and her husband “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” “Righteous” and “blameless” are terms that God uses infrequently when describing a sinful human race. This is not something to just gloss over — we find similar words used in Hebrew in describing Job as “perfect and upright” in Job 1:1. This is a coveted commendation coming from the Lord. Could the same be said of us? Could this be why God chose to inflict the struggle of barrenness on this couple just as God took Job’s children from him? Both situations were used to bring glory to God.
When Mary comes to visit Elisabeth, there is not any jealousy in this much older woman that her younger cousin was chosen to carry the Messiah rather than she. Elisabeth, as a descendant of Aaron, fulfilled her role to be a worshipper of the Messiah while Mary, as a descendant of Judah, was chosen to give birth to the Messiah. Elisabeth’s only response was to worship her Lord in true humility! (Luke 1:41-45)
2. Elisabeth was a childless woman.
Elisabeth was righteous toward God and most faithful to her husband, but five words encompass heartbreak almost indescribable for any married woman in Jewish days and even so today for many women — Luke 1:7 — “And they had no child…” Elisabeth and Zacharias would have prayed for a child and longed for a child, yet now in their old age, the prospect of a natural-born child had passed. A childless state was a heavy burden to bear for anyone. Think of Sarah and Abraham (Genesis 15ff) as well as Hannah and Elkanah (1 Samuel 1). The Bible describes the anguish of these people who only desired what is natural for a married couple – to have a baby. However, this burden was especially heavy for the daughter of a priest and the wife of a priest. She would not be able to help perpetuate the priestly line of Aaron with a child of their own. In those days, this was a huge disgrace for the wife of a priest. For she, just like every Israelite woman, dreamed that it might be her privilege to be the Mother of the Messiah promised to Eve in Genesis 3:15. Even amidst this heavy burden to bear, God speaks of the faithfulness of this couple to Him.
Are we faithful to God even in the midst of the struggles of life — when things don’t go as we expect them to? Have we considered that God has a perfect plan in place? If Elisabeth had been given children prior to this time of her life, she possibly wouldn’t have recognized the miraculous working of God in their lives. Even though we don’t always understand why we can trust God that He has a perfect plan in place!
3. Elisabeth was a privileged woman.
Although her baby did not fulfill Eve’s promise in Genesis 3:15, God had chosen this Godly woman and her husband to parent the forerunner of Christ in a miraculous way. An angel announced their miracle of birth in old age to her husband Zacharias while he was faithfully fulfilling his priestly duties. According to Luke 1:9-23, we are not told of Elisabeth’s response, but we get a glimpse into what happened between Zacharias and Gabriel. Zacharias questioned Gabriel and suffered the whole pregnancy with being mute because of his unbelief. It wasn’t until he declared in writing what John’s name would be proving his faith in God’s plan for their son that he was released from that suffering. Zacharias immediately spoke of his belief in God’s plan with the song of praise he sang after his tongue was loosed (Luke 1:59-80). At the six-month mark of her pregnancy, Elisabeth meets the Christ-child when her cousin Mary comes to visit her just after Jesus’ birth was announced to Mary by Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38). Even from the womb, John recognizes the Christ-child and leaps in Elisabeth’s womb when he hears Mary’s greeting to Elisabeth. Elisabeth’s response in Luke 1:41-45 is the first verbal declaration of Christ’s Lordship we have recorded in Scripture. Elisabeth’s steadfast faith in God’s word to perform these things encouraged the young Mary to believe what the angel had declared to her (Luke 1:45). Elisabeth is also a witness to Mary’s song of magnifying the Lord in Luke 1:46-55. What a great privilege for her.
Are we not privileged people to have the Word of God in our hands for the edification of our hearts and to use in evangelizing the lost? Elisabeth was witness to history at the incarnation, and she worshipped the Lord because of it. What are we doing with the privileges we have in Christ?
4. Elisabeth was an obedient woman.
According to what happens in Luke 1:59-64, we can assume that Zacharias told Elisabeth what happened in the Temple the day Gabriel spoke to him and “tied his tongue” due to his unbelief. Elisabeth displays her obedience to God’s plan when she speaks at the circumcision of the child to name him John. This was against all tradition as the people pointed out since there was no one by that name in their family (Luke 1:61). Elisabeth believed God despite the customs of her day and faithfully obeyed His command in naming him John – which means “the mercy and favor of God.” Zacharias’ confirmation of what she said loosens his tongue so that he is able to magnify the Lord because of this miraculous birth.
Every child is a gift from God given to their parents with the sacred obligation to:
Elisabeth and Zacharias were obedient in this aspect of their lives. Are we being obedient in the things we know the Lord would have us do today?
As we close the scene here, consider what we can learn from the great example Elisabeth left for us in a very unusual situation. Because of her faith and obedience, people recognized the hand of God in John’s life. Are we being good examples of faith and obedience in our lives to point others to Christ?
May Elisabeth’s faith encourage us to be bold in our witness of the One Who came to earth, born to die for our sins
"BUT God had a perfect plan in His perfect timing." I love that statement! How have you seen God work His perfect plan in His perfect timing in your life?
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