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  • Nov17Fri

    Learning to Praise and Worship – Part 1: Elizabeth

    November 17, 2017 by the TWR Canada Women’s Ministry Team
    Filed Under:
    Women of the Bible
    Elizabeth (wife to the priest Zechariah) is a familiar story found in Luke 1. She’s not a recurring character; however, the impact of her faith is far reaching.

    What Do We Know About Her?

    We know that both Zechariah and Elizabeth were Levites, descendants of Aaron. While we don’t know where Zechariah and Elizabeth lived specifically, today we might say they led a country church in a small town.

    We know that Elizabeth had no children and was advanced in age. She would have been afforded respect as the wife of a priest and for her age, but not having any children would have been a black mark. Luke describes this couple as “walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord…” This is not small praise.

    Let’s not overlook how important this short introduction is. They were simple people, but they were faithful. Elizabeth likely prayed for years for a child. There were some undoubtedly who whispered about what sin the couple had committed for God to withhold the blessing of a child.

    It’s hard to continue serving and praying and living faithfully when your heart is broken, when the suffering you’re undergoing is due to circumstances beyond your control. Zechariah and Elizabeth’s response to this situation is worth imitating.

    She Was Not Proud

    The text says that Zechariah received a visit from the angel Gabriel and was given instructions for the child his wife would conceive. He was struck mute for questioning the word of the angel. He went home, and Elizabeth conceived in her old age.

    Did she run out and tell everyone who had pointed a finger at her? Stick out her tongue at any who had looked down on her for not having a child? No, she kept herself hidden. What did she do in those weeks and months? The instructions Zechariah received would set the child, John, apart. He would not only be a great prophet, but his purpose was to prepare the people for the coming Saviour.

    To have such a strong son leading people to God would be a great blessing, but those called to walk the path of a prophet do not have an easy life. Their son would be called to a life of sacrifice, likely a solitary life (no grandchildren), and would not be around to care for them. They were asked to raise a man who loved God more than anything else, knowing he would likely suffer for his faith. Don’t skim over the impact this knowledge would have on a mother’s heart.

    Would it change how she raised him? Would you be tempted to encourage your son down a different path in this circumstance? It’s not a far-flung thought to wonder if she didn’t take those weeks and months to prepare herself for the duty ahead of her. She needed to raise a strong son who loved the Lord and followed not only the commandments in God’s Word but also followed something close to the life of a Nazarene—and then she’d have to let him go.

    She Wasn’t Ashamed  

    Then, Elizabeth’s young relative, Mary, visits. When Elizabeth saw Mary, the child leapt in her womb. Elizabeth immediately knew that Mary would give birth to the Messiah.

    The ESV says Elizabeth “exclaimed” when she saw Mary. The NASB says, “She cried out with a loud voice…” Each woman’s pregnancy is confirmation to the other of what the angel had promised them. There were few people these two women could talk to who could relate, or most likely even believe them.

    When the Lord restores or blesses in a way that is unexpected or unlooked for, the hardship of the previous years often melts away. And Elizabeth is not quiet about it! She cries out her blessing as though she cannot remain silent about it. If we had only one word to describe Elizabeth, unashamed comes to mind. She is quick to acknowledge God.

    Elizabeth is a good lesson for us. When something is restored, when we receive a gift or blessing we’ve long hoped for, do we let everyone around us know about it? Do we pause to be sure our hearts are right with God so when we share the news God gets all the credit? Do we remember to praise God when we receive an unexpected gift or blessing?

    Then there are those times when things don’t go as we had hoped or planned. Are we able to praise God when we do not receive what we long and pray for? Can we walk faithfully in the hard years when it seems like our prayers have gone unheard?

    As we celebrate God’s faithfulness to TWR Women of Hope this month, let us be quick to give praise and be thankful. Regardless of our situation, we too can be like Elizabeth and unashamedly acknowledge our Lord.