Elizabeth - Women of the Bible
IntroductionElizabeth was the wife of Zachariah, the mother of John the Baptist and a relative of Mary the mother of Jesus. Elizabeth's name means 'God is my oath' or 'my God is my fortune'.*
The storyElizabeth and her husband Zachariah were both given an outstanding character reference by the scriptures
"And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." Luke 1:6 NKJV
In total contradiction to the accepted norm of the day these two 'righteous and blameless' people were also childless!
The scripture almost certainly emphasised Elizabeth and Zachariah's piety in order to disassociate it from any sin or fault on their behalf. Even in some cultures and mindsets today 'bad circumstances' are often blamed on sin or a fault on the side of the person suffering. This is not the case the bible presents.
Both Elizabeth and Zachariah were well advanced in years, and despite much prayer and godly living still remained childless (Luke 1:6, 7 and 13). But God did not fail to be a fortune for Elizabeth as her name had suggested.
ElizabethElizabeth and her husband had dearly longed for a child. They had prayed for one (Luke 1:13) and the culture of the day had demanded they needed one (Luke 1:25). Yet no child came.
Zachariah was also a priest (Luke 1:5). One day as he was serving in the temple the angel Gabriel appeared to him and announced that his wife would have a child.
Although Zachariah was moved by the awesome presence of the angel, he could not accept that his aged wife could still give birth (Luke 1:8-20). Could you blame him! In order to stop him confessing his unbelief the angel struck him dumb.
The angel's promise eventually happened and a pregnant and rather embarrassed Elizabeth hid herself for 5 months. She would have hid for longer if the angel had not intervened again.
Angel Gabriel alerted Mary about the pending birth of Elizabeth's child. Mary hastened to her place to see her. By this time Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant.
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for 3 months - about the time it would have taken for her to give birth.
On arriving at Elizabeth's place the moment Mary spoke the baby in Elizabeth's womb moved (Luke 1:41). The Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth and she blessed Mary.
Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist. There is no other record of Elizabeth after this and it is certain she died before John became an adult (Luke 1:80).
Elizabeth had a vital role to play in the plan of God. If she had 'given up' on God because of her barrenness she would have forfeited her "God given role". We may not always understand God but we should never cease trusting him.
Elisabeth’s duty in bringing up John the Baptist was a very important one. All mothers blessed with the privilege of raising young children have a very important ministry. How often this vital ministry has been overlooked?
Some ladies have even been known to get 'angry' with God because they think they have 'wasted' their time bringing up children and assume others have been doing more 'worthwhile ministry'. What a mistake?
God kept Elizabeth to bring up John at the right time. He trusted Elizabeth and that's why he gave her John.
What has God trusted you with?
The beauty about the life of Elizabeth is that God used her as a clear picture of Christian ministry. Let’s not forget that Elizabeth was probably old enough to be Mary's mother. Yet they both had children at the same time. Elizabeth had her child six months before Mary.
- Age is no hindrance to ministry or God's blessing. Keep loving the Lord out of a pure heart and His will for your life will be fulfilled.
- At Christ's birth two generations were brought together represented by Mary (probably less than twenty years ) and Elizabeth (probably over 60 years). Christ has come to bridge the generation gap. Indeed for any ministry to be truly effect it must span the generations. The children, parents, grandparents and great grandparents all being touched by the move of God.
Thank God for Elizabeth!
Out of her heartbreak, sorrow and unanswered prayer came a woman who brought a blessing.
1. What aspects of Elizabeth's life do you find most challenging?
2. How do you think Zacharias and Elizabeth kept faithful to the Lord during those years of waiting?
3. What other reasons are there for 'unanswered' prayers?
4. If Children are a blessing from the Lord, do you consider bringing up children a God given ministry?
5. Why do you think the angel made Zacharias dumb?
* J A Fitzmyer - The Gospel according to Luke I - IX 1987