Have you ever wondered whether or not God fulfills His promises? Take a look at the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth and see just how He changed their lives!
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The Story of Zechariah and Elizabeth
Let’s take a look at Elizabeth’s story today and find out how she was just like us. Below are excerpts from Luke 1:5-25:
“In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah … And he had a wife … Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God … But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. Now while he was serving as priest before God … he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense … And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord … And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord … he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.’ And Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.’ And the angel answered him, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.’ And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, ‘Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people’” (ESV).
Many women have dealt with infertility and it can be heartbreaking. (You can listen to my friend’s story, “Infertility Revisited.” It is one of my “From God’s Perspective” devotionals here on HopeStreamRadio.)
In Elizabeth’s day, the inability to bear a child was not only heartbreaking but also a social stigma. Those who couldn’t bear children were looked down upon, scorned, and ridiculed. Barrenness was considered a sign that God’s favour did not rest upon the couple in question.
A Mix of Emotions
Elizabeth and her husband, Zechariah, had long given up the hope of having children. As this passage says, Zechariah was an old man and his wife “advanced in years.” We know Elizabeth felt the weight of her situation. In verse 25, we read that she rejoiced that the Lord had taken away her “reproach among people.”
We can only imagine how she felt when Zechariah returned from his duties at the temple. For one thing, he couldn’t speak. (This was the cost of his disbelief, and I’m fairly certain most of us would have responded to the angel as he did.) Although he couldn’t sit her down and explain what had happened to him, I’m sure she was beyond amazed at what he shared with her.
Last time we spoke about the myriad of emotions Bathsheba must have experienced. I’m sure Elizabeth felt several conflicting emotions as well: doubt and hope, confusion and wonder, reservation and expectation.
With each passing month of her pregnancy, she may have become increasingly certain that her husband had truly received a message from the Lord, that maybe, just maybe, after all the decades of waiting, she was actually going to give birth to a son.
Mary Greets Elizabeth
And I couldn’t end a devotional about Elizabeth without mentioning her encounter with her relative Mary. When the young woman came to see her. Elizabeth’s child jumped in her womb. While it isn’t unusual for a woman who is six months pregnant to feel her unborn baby moving within her, Elizabeth knew this was different.
Verses 39-45 of Luke 1 says, “In those days Mary … entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting … the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord’” (ESV).
So how is Elizabeth just like us?
She faced great disappointment in her life.
Though we may not have experienced infertility, it’s likely we’ve all known heart-wrenching disappointment at some point.
Elizabeth suffered rejection.
We may not have done so to the same degree, but none of us get through life without facing some kind of rejection.
Have you ever read a passage and thought, “That’s too good to be true”? Or have you ever looked at your situation or the situations around you and questioned God’s promises? I would imagine the answer to both questions is yes. I know it is for me.
Elizabeth rejoiced in the presence of the Messiah.
I hope this is true of you. As we get to know the Lord better and better, we should overflow with wonder and joy.
If you’ve never experienced awe, if you’ve never marveled at who He is, I encourage you to spend time prayerfully reading the Scriptures. And observe creation. Look up into the night sky or take a walk in the woods. Evidence of His character is all around us.
Elizabeth humbly testified about God’s greatness.
She was filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaimed to Mary what He had revealed. Realization of who God is and what He has done and is doing should cause us to overflow with praise and words of testimony as well.
Let’s learn from Elizabeth’s story and trust that God can and will fulfill all His promises—even when our situation looks impossible.
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Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance writer and editor. She is the coauthor of Paralympian Deb Willows’ award-winning memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances, published by Castle Quay Books.
Steph is a member of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship and The Word Guild. She and her husband of over 30 years live in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.
Steph’s goal is to nurture and inspire. She blogs at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests. She also guest posts regularly on the topics of Christian living, writing, and fitness. You can visit her website, stephbethnickel.com, to learn more about her.
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