Thursday, November 06, 2008

"Barren" Women of the Bible Part 3 - Elisabeth

Part 3 of our Barren Women of the Bible series will focus on Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. She waited a long time to conceive a child, but I would say it was well worth the wait. John went on to pave the way for Jesus Christ's ministry. He forsake the easy life and became one of the most powerful prophets in Bible history.

Elisabeth's story is told in Luke 1. As with Sarah's story, Elisabeth's journey opens with information about her husband Zacharias who was a priest . He's described as blameless and righteous. I can't overemphasize the impact a man of God can have in the pregnancy journey! Remember Abraham? He was blessed as the father of nations because God knew he would train his children in God's word!

Anyway, Zacharias went to do his job in the temple when an angel suddenly appeared (Zacharias was freaked out of course!) and said: "Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth." (Luke 1:13)

Let's stop there a moment. As a priest - a man of God - who had an angel suddenly appear and give him the news of a lifetime "your prayer is heard ... you'll have a son and shall have joy and gladness" ... once he got over the shock, I imagine a lot of praising and dancing would have been happening - on the spot. What he actually said was:

How do I know this is true? I'm old and so is my wife ...

Don't think Zacharias didn't know the story of Abraham and Sarah. But sometimes what is happening in this physical realm feels so real, so debilitating that we mistakenly believe our obstacle is too big for God. These examples show that even great men and women of faith wrestle with this, but we learn from our examples that if we hang in there with God instead of hanging on to our doubt and despair, we are rewarded. He is the same God!

Back to the story ...

The angel, Gabriel puffs out his chest and pretty much tells Zacharias ... do you know what I was doing before I came before you? I was WITH GOD ALMIGHTY and HE sent me to tell you this wonderful news. Because of your unbelief, you won't be able to speak a word until it all comes to pass. It'll happen in due time.

Let's get a better understanding of the feelings that spawned his disbelief. Can you imagine the humiliation and hopelessness this couple felt? Here, he was a high-status person in the community, they served God faithfully, and yet they seemed cursed by their inability to have children. At that time, children not only added social status, but they were the parents' social security and their living legacy. How often do you think this couple was reminded that children were a blessing of the Lord? To not have them was devastating, but all hope was not lost.

After he finished his temple duties (the people were wondering what in the world took so long!) he went home and soon after Elisabeth conceived. She said, "God looked on me and took away my reproach among men." (Luke 1:25)

Using Elisabeth as one of our many examples, we learn that maternal age does not hinder God. We're also reminded that our unbelief might have a consequence, but it does not necessarily void the promised blessing. God understands our weaknesses and it is during those times that His strength shines through.

So, no matter what the situation .... no matter how hopeless and bleak a future with children seems, no matter how much is riding on our ability to conceive and carry to term ...

"With God NOTHING shall be impossible." (Luke 1:37)

Questions to consider:

  • What might be hindering your ability to cling to the unfading truth that NOTHING is impossible for God (not even your seemingly complicated situation)?
  • What is keeping you from turning these things over to the Lord?
  • Do you believe that it is possible to be a righteous faith-filled person and still have a hard time conceiving and/or carrying to term?
  • Should you feel like the worse person on earth because you sometimes doubt God? What can you do to strengthen your faith in God?
  • Is the inability to have children simply a curse from God or could it have a higher purpose? Seek God's wisdom through prayer to uncover YOUR purpose.
Read more about Zacharias, Elisabeth, John's birth and how it all relates to Mary and Jesus in Luke 1. It is such an inspiring story!


Anonymous said...

Wow! powerful message! Thanks for the insights.

Anonymous said...

These messages are inspirational to me. I know that healing will come with time. Thank you for all your encouraging words.