Every year I am always surprised at how many Christians chase after positions. We like to gather more stuff and we focus on our material goods. But God wants us to focus on something else. He wants us to focus on Him and what He has for us. Let us learn how God can use us by turning our attention to the Bible story of Elizabeth and Zechariah.
Amber Durgan wrote this blog post. To get to know her more, you can find her at www.amberdurgan.com or get more information from her Bio at the end of this post.
There is one untold story that we often ignore. It’s the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah. Let’s take some time to learn what they can teach us.
Every year, I read about how Gabriel came and visited Mary and how Mary then travelled to Jerusalem to have a son in the manger. This is the central story of Christmas and one we should read.
This week I want to take a journey with you into the lives of Elizabeth and Zechariah to see what we can glean from their experience and the wisdom their story shares. It may surprise you how we can relate to a couple who lived over two thousand years ago.
The Story of Elizabeth and Zechariah
Luke is the only gospel that shares the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah. This is the story of a woman and her husband (a priest) who were “well advanced in years”.
They were a couple who loved the Lord and went about Kingdom work here on earth. We know them for their righteousness, and also for being barren.
Luke 1:6 “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless”.
One of the first things we learn about Elizabeth and Zechariah is that they don’t have any kids.
To our 21st-century minds, this might not sound like such a big deal, but in their culture, it was a big deal. Being married without children meant something different. People of this time viewed children as a reward and blessing from the Lord. If a couple experienced infertility, it was likely interpreted to mean that they had some unconfessed sin in their lives.
We can rejoice in the wisdom of God, who included Luke 1:6 in this narrative, to show that the belief is false. They do not set their identity in Christ in barring children but is something so much better.
Elizabeth and Zechariah were God’s righteous children, who hadn’t been blessed with a child… yet!
Zechariah Chosen for Duty
In Luke 1 the story continues with Zechariah being chosen as the priest who was chosen to perform the priestly duties inside the temple by the casting of lots.
As Zechariah is going about this work of burning incense, an angel (Gabriel) visits and tells him that he and his wife will have a child.
Let’s take a minute to think about this. God hadn’t communicated with anyone for nearly four hundred years. It is not as if Zechariah was expecting to encounter an angel that day.
The first thing the angel does is to comfort Zechariah, as the very sight of the angel terrified him.
Gabriel tells Zechariah that his prayer was heard and answered.
- Luke 1:13 Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you are to call him John.” Zechariah heard the angel, and then chose to doubt what the Lord spoke through Gabriel
- Luke. 1:18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
On this side of Christmas, it is easy for us to know that Christmas is synonymous with miracles, but Zechariah wasn’t so sure.
His wife was infertile, and they were beyond childbearing years.
I can just see Zechariah asking “Are you sure God?”
At the time Zechariah was in the temple, we can guess that Elizabeth might have been outside the temple offering prayers to God. She would soon learn about the promise of having a son.
Because of his unbelief, Zechariah could not speak until his son was born.
3 Lessons from the Story of Elizabeth and Zechariah
Imagine sitting across the table from Elizabeth as she shared this story with you; oh the wisdom she would impart! If we look closely, there are some true gems in the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah for us to gather.
1. Being barren is not a curse
The ultimate calling of a woman is not that of motherhood. Read that again: The ultimate calling of a woman is not motherhood.
Unfortunately, there are still many Christians who believe that motherhood is the ultimate calling for women and that to be a mom means you have God’s ultimate blessing.
There are many barren women in the bible, and God always blesses them. Not always with a child, but He always blesses them.
Friend, if you are waiting for children this Christmas season can I assure you that nothing is wrong with you.
You are not broken, you are not overlooked, you are not forgotten.
God calls us into more than motherhood as His daughters.
There are other things that can lead us to a fulfilling life.
While, yes, children are a blessing, our ultimate calling is to live to bring glory and honour to God.
If you have ever struggled with fertility, my heart hurts with yours. We too have had some pain with fertility. I hope you can be in a space where you can hear this. You are not deficient. Your fertility issues do not reflect God’s love for you. God may just have a different plan for your life. He withholds no good gift from us.
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2. God’s timing is perfect
Elizabeth fully saw the hand of God in her life and rejoiced over His plan for her.
Given a baby at an old age, Elizabeth could have complained that God waited too long. She could have thought that it would be harder to raise a child. She could have decided that she no longer wanted a child. She could have even balked at the plans God had for her child’s life.
But she didn’t do any of those things (that we know of). Rather, she turned and offered her praise back to God. She rejoiced over the blessing she was given and gave God the glory.
Perhaps there is something in your life that makes you wonder what God is doing.
Maybe you are waiting for a husband, a job, a new home or for a child to call your own.
Perhaps your circumstances look hopeless.
Friend, take heart. We serve a God who delights in blessing you. He has a plan. His timing is always perfect.
We know His plans are always for our good. They may not look -anything like we had hoped for, but I can assure you His plans are always better.
3. You can trust God
This story is that it builds our trust in God. This lesson comes directly from Zechariah, however, it still applies to us as God’s daughters.
When God proclaims something over our lives or we read something in the Bible, we need to trust Him.
That seems really logical as head knowledge. However, what happens when it comes right down to it? What happens when God says to move and we don’t because we really like where we live.
What happens when we want to do something we know is against God’s commands for us?
What happens when our finances are tight and we hear God tells us to sponsor a child or pay for our neighbour’s rent?
Do we stay in fear, or do we trust God?
Do we joyfully trust God in the moment? Or do we do what we want instead?
The story of Elizabeth and Zechariah shows us that God can be trusted. His timing may not be the same as ours, but God will never lead us into something that He won’t equip us for. He will not tell us to give away without supplying the means.
Let us rejoice for the example Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah serve, as we walk our salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord!
In the comments below, share a time when God asked you to do something and how you responded.