..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Characters in the Christmas Story: Elizabeth

After his encounter with the angel Gabriel, Zacharias goes quickly to his house in enforced silence.
No doubt he had a lot to think about. Just as Gabriel said, Elizabeth, Zacharias' wife, becomes
pregnant, and no doubt she had a lot to think about also! You see, even when we love God
very much, and have walked with Him a long time--even or especially when He does not seem to
answer our prayer, there are deep things going on in our hearts. God is doing a deep
work and when we are deeply shaken much of what we have thought in the deepest,
most private parts of our hearts rises to the surface.

I think it is because we so want God to be all that we need Him to be that disappointment
can come when our human expectations are not met. Then, when God shows Himself
to be faithful, we have a whiplash of counter emotions of greatly varied sorts!
Do  you know what? God is bigger than our expectations of Him and "what we
need Him to be."  He is Who He is and often we need time to sit with that truth.

Just as Zacharias must sit and ponder in silence, so must Elizabeth .
She goes into seclusion for  five months. I don't blame her. All those people
who, over the  years,  must have given her a million "spiritual" reasons why
she didnt have a baby, and a multitude of sad suggestions on what that meant
about her, no doubt, would be showing up on her door to find out what happened
and to view an old woman who has gotten pregnant..  Gossip is so horrible.

Elizabeth shows her wisdom and fear of God, and we can see a glimpse
of why God chose her. You see, Elizabeth and Zacharias, Anna and Simeon,
Joseph and Mary are those that held the torch of the testimony for
their generation.  They are "old-school" believers--tried and true--not
giving into the depravity of the times; battered down but not hopeless;
weary but not apostate.  They have kept the faith! No easy task!

Meanwhile, Gabriel is about to visit Mary. Elizabeth stays in seclusion
for five months (Luke 1:24) and in the sixth month Gabriel visit Mary and tells
her she is to have Jesus, but also tells her that Elizabeth is six months
pregnant. Mary goes quickly to visit Elizabeth.  What a wonderful
provision for both of them as I am sure no one in the world would understand
what they were going through and Mary would soon be glad
to flee a lot of hostility and gossip also. This is no small blessing
for them both.  I am sure they prayed and talked
deep into the nights of the wondrous and puzzling thing that was
unfolding in and to them. Even as Mary arrived and greeted
Elizabeth, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesies
how blessed Mary is and how blessed is Jesus within her.
Even the in-utero John the Baptist jumps for joy (Luke 1:41,42)!
This is, indeed, an amazing story!

Elizabeth is a woman of faith, and like Hannah, has received her
promise from the Lord. Both give their miracles babies over
to the special service of God.  No doubt she did not live to see John
the Baptist grow older (and this probably saved her much grief)
but she did get to exult in the amazing grace of God her Savior.

Elizabeth worships the God Who Hears and Knows and
meanwhile, the young John, grows within her in an atmosphere
of praise and worship. God miraculously takes away her
reproach (Luke 1:25) and her neighbors show her mercy
and rejoice with her (1:58). Sometimes things happen not because
we have sinned, says Jesus, but so that the works of God can be
manifested in us. (John 9:2 &3)

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