-First to Confess Jesus as Lord-
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, the first High Priest of the Jewish Law, brother of Moses. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years. The devout and devoted couple lived in the hill country of Southern Judea.
Elizabeth was righteous before the Lord, a woman of unusual strong faith and was obedient to the traditions of the Priesthood from whom she and her husband were descendants. Elizabeth means 'a worshipper of God' and also means 'God in my oath'.
An Israelite woman's main goal in life was to have children. For years the couple prayed for a child, but the age of childbearing had passed. For a priest and his wife to be childless was humiliating in the community as it was a privilege to pass on such heritage. Elizabeth felt consolation that her husband continued to love her. Among the Israelite community children were considered a blessing and childlessness a curse. It was also a social status, all this caused Elizabeth to feel humiliated. Childlessness was not only a major threat to a marriage, it created many other problems.
Barrenness was more than a physical or social problem, it had deep religious meanings according to the law of Moses. Children were needed for care of parents in old age, to provide proper burials and to inherit family possessions. Relatives and family were a comfort to Elizabeth, they showed a common ancestry, one of whom was the Virgin Mary.
In a godless age Elizabeth and her husband lived exemplary lives, yet because they were childless, they were regarded by some pious Jews to be under the disapproval of God. Her barrenness was not seen by many who knew her, as a result of sin for she was known as a spiritual woman. She was a godly and privileged woman who depended upon God and trusted in Him. Peace has dominion amongst those who serve God.
Elizabeth sincerely obeyed God's laws outwardly and inwardly. Elizabeth was a home maker with her husband. She willingly and obediently took the place of submission to her husband and was the ideal Israelite wife. Her responsibility was to be his 'helpmeet', one who does him good, and her duties centred around the home and market place. Her husband being a Levite priest did not own property or a business but lived on the income of the people's tithe.
The work in daily life for Elizabeth would have been stimulating, marked by hard work and long hours, grinding grain into flour, cooking and sewing, finding fuel and every family needed water. Elizabeth's marriage was worked by love. Her qualities were that of a perfect wife, with many talents and much humility, nor did she waste her time with gossip; she helped the needy and was not selfish. She had an expected trust in God and had a loving gentle, patient attitude towards others. It is not recorded of Elizabeth's outer beauty but definitely of her inner beauty and pleasing personality.
Being a Levite priest caused her husband to be made available for Temple duties in Jerusalem. In the year 6-5 B.C. Zechariah, the elderly priest, was in the Temple carrying out the duties required, when the angel Gabriel appeared and told him that he and his wife would conceive a son even though Elizabeth was barren and they were to call him John.
"The angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous-- to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. You will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time." When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. "The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people."
God performed a miracle in Elizabeth, enabling her to believe God could do the impossible, but her husband had been struck dumb through unbelief.
Elizabeth conceived a child. She showed no doubt of God's ability to carry out this miracle. God was involved in Elizabeth becoming pregnant because of her advanced age. Elizabeth withdrew herself from the community and prepared herself privately for the coming of her special child. She was highly favoured of God. Elizabeth marvelled at the Grace of God that allowed her a role in His great plan; she knew God had been merciful to her in giving her a child. God worked out His greater purpose in perfect timing.
Gratitude was prominent in Elizabeth's joy, she rejoiced in God's plan of something new of which she and her husband were told and Elizabeth was part of that plan. There were many famous and godly people in The Bible who were also doubters but Elizabeth had full belief in God that He would carry out His promise. She was humbled that God had favoured her.
However, when she was 6 months pregnant she was visited by the pregnant Virgin Mary and when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting the child in her womb leapt. Both Elizabeth and her child were effected by The Holy Spirit within, and she confirmed Mary's child was her Saviour. Elizabeth's baby leapt for joy, in some supernatural way The Holy Spirit produced the response in her unborn baby. Mary's child, The Messiah, was supernaturally conceived by The Holy Spirit and her unborn child was Elizabeth's Lord.
The Holy Spirit told Elizabeth that Mary's child was her Lord and Saviour and her Spirit-filled witness to the Virgin Mary gave Jesus' mother confirmation and encouragement. Elizabeth greeted Mary as the mother of her Lord with her spiritual insight. It was Elizabeth's Spirit-filled reception to which Mary replied in prophetic song.
The Holy Spirit allowed Elizabeth to recognise the significance of God's purposes and acknowledge The Messiah as her Lord and Saviour before He had been born. Mary's pregnancy seemed impossible, but Elizabeth believed it and rejoiced at it, she accepted God's gift. Even from the womb Elizabeth's child pointed to Christ. Elizabeth was not jealous but was happy for Mary to be so honoured above all Israelite women.
Young Mary stayed with her relative for the next three months and helped Elizabeth with home duties till the end of her pregnancy then returned to Galilee.
Elizabeth's baby was circumcised amidst neighbours and relatives as they greatly rejoiced with her and praised God for His mercy towards her in giving her a child. It is here where Elizabeth announced his name is John, with her husband giving approval and at once received his speech to the astonishment of the local interest.
Her companions and friends were truly happy for the well loved aged mother, but were surprised at his name not being a family name, the name of John was told to her husband by the angel Gabriel. Family lives and names were very important to Israelites and were surprised when Elizabeth told them his name was to be John. The fact that Elizabeth bypassed custom shows her obedience to God and gave the name John as told to her husband. When God names a child, greatness follows. Her child was no ordinary child.
At this event The Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth's husband and he prophesied that the people that God would redeem His people and give them salvation from their enemies and to show them mercy.
Elizabeth's son was be called a prophet of the Most High and give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of God on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death to guide their feet into the path of peace.
Elizabeth's child was set apart for a most special service to God. John was kept safe when King Herod killed the males 2 years and under. Elizabeth raised John in the ways of God. She had great influence on her child and he grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.
Elizabeth herself would not see her son herald in her Messiah, for she was advanced in years when her son was born and had probably died. In fulfilment of God's promise, in her old age she bore a son who played a momentous role in God's Plan. He was filled with The Holy Spirit and he was the one chosen to tell God's people that the long awaited Messiah was coming. (fulfilled prophecy of Isaiah 40:3-5, Malachi 3:1, 4:5,6.)
A sign of wonder, not only had the sex of the child been foretold before it's conception but also his name. Elizabeth became pregnant by the Will of God and gave birth to John The Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Elizabeth's son John was the greatest of any other human before him.
Elizabeth was the first to have the Holy Spirit born in her through her child, she gave birth to the greatest human ever born (except for the unique personage of Christ), she came from one of the most important Israelite tribes, was greatly favoured of God; a miracle was brought about in her life to have a child when she had been physically barren. She was the first human to confess Jesus as her Lord and Saviour.
Elizabeth knew that God does what He says. Believers should be like Elizabeth and not doubt God's Word. Her godly life is a testament to God's presence. Believers should have integrity before God for God owes us nothing so He is to be honoured and respected and held in awe for the great things He does for people.
Believers should be humble before Him and be sensitive to His details working in everyday life. Humility as Elizabeth showed is the natural result of the likeness about who God is, she recognised God as her Creator. God exalts the humble.
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