Elizabeth plays an incredibly important role in Jesus’ narrative, as before He is born, her faithfulness helps prepare for His arrival.
Let’s have a look at Luke 1
Elizabeth and her husband, Zachariah, are introduced as people who ‘lived good lives in God’s sight and obeyed fully.’ (Luke 1:6). I would be pretty chuffed with that kind of introduction. However, we’re then told that Elizabeth is barren (meaning she wasn’t able to have children).
Not being able to have children would have carried a lot of shame and disgrace at the time; it was perceived as something which showed disfavour from the Lord. Woah, hold up. So we read that in God’s sight she is living a good life, but in everyone else’s sight, she should feel shame. Hmm… I wonder who we should believe?
It is so powerful that in her introduction, it has been ensured that we FIRST are made aware of God’s view of her, before the world’s. Because that is actually the only opinion we should be listening to!
His view of Elizabeth, and of us, is key. Because ‘the Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ (1 Samuel 16:7). No matter what the world (including other Christians) is saying about you – how you look, the way you worship, your hobbies, the food you eat, the food you don’t eat, the dreams you have – know what God is saying, because that comes first, that comes above any false judgement.
Elizabeth’s story flipped when Angel Gabriel came and said she would become pregnant. After Elizabeth found out she was carrying a baby, she spent the next five months relishing in the pregnancy (to relish means to enjoy greatly). She separated herself and went to her secret place with God.
She had complete faith the moment the words were uttered, and she saw the importance of nurturing this promise, of shielding it from the world, and most importantly of spending time with God and thanking Him for His goodness.
It was so important that Elizabeth spent the time praising God and protecting this promise, because of the impact it was going to have on the world. Elizabeth was told: ‘You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord… He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth’(v.14-15).
Elizabeth wasn’t just giving birth to a baby boy, but she was giving birth to John the Baptist, a man who is pivotal in Jesus’ narrative. He was a Nazarite: someone who lived separated from others, to prepare the way for something that God was going to do… John the Baptist, prepared the way for Jesus. (Luke 1:17).
Elizabeth’s faithfulness was essential to God’s plan. Just like yours is. She stood firm in His word, even though it went against culture – she followed God’s plan and called him John. And we can’t forget how names are so important. John means Yahweh is Gracious – God is a good, kind, caring God!
Elizabeth means My God is an oath – God is an assurance, a promise. This isn’t just a coincidence as Elizabeth and her family’s entire testimony rests on the fact that God’s promises are good. Their names foreshadow the events to come; Elizabeth gives birth to the beginning of God’s promise of himself to us.
Elizabeth’s story teaches us so much, in fact I couldn’t fit it all in one blog post, so this is just part one (Eeee – I’m so excited to see what else God is wanting to share with us!) So far we see that we need to focus on God’s voice above the worlds.
He makes it abundantly clear that his opinion of us in central to us trusting in His voice and plans for us. His promises are always good, taking away shame and hurt and bringing joy and hope. Elizabeth teaches us to always listen to God’s calling as the truth, over whatever the circumstances are telling us.