In societies like Israel, in which a woman’s value was largely measured by her ability to bear children, to be aging and without children often led to personal hardship and public shame. For Elizabeth, a childless old age was a painful and lonely time during which she remained faithful to God.
Both Elizabeth and Zechariah came from priestly families. For two weeks each year, Zechariah had to go to the temple in Jerusalem to attend to his priestly duties. After one of those trips, Zechariah returned home excited, but speechless. He had to write down his good news, because he couldn’t give it any other way. And what a wonderful surprise he had for his wife – their faded dream would become an exciting reality! Soon Elizabeth became pregnant, and she knew her child was a long-hoped-for gift from God.
News travelled fast among the family. Seventy miles to the north, in Nazareth, Elizabeth’s relative, Mary, also unexpectedly became pregnant. Within days of the angel’s message that she would bear the Messiah, Mary went to visit Elizabeth. They were instantly bound together by the unique gifts God had given them. Elizabeth knew that Mary’s son would be even greater than her own, for John would be the messenger for Mary’s son.
When the baby was born, Elizabeth insisted on his God-given name: John. Zechariah’s written agreement freed his tongue, and everyone in town wondered what would become of this obviously special child.
Elizabeth whispered her praise as she cared for God’s gift. Knowing about Mary must have made her marvel at God’s timing. Things had worked out even better than she could have planned. We too need to remember that God is in control of every situation. When did you last pause to recognise God’s timing in the events of your life?
Strengths and accomplishments:
- Known as a deeply spiritual woman
- Showed no doubts about God’s ability to fulfil his promise
- Mother of John the Baptist
- The first woman besides Mary to hear of the coming Saviour
Lessons from her life:
- God does not forget those who have been faithful to him
- God’s timetable and methods do not have to conform to what we expect
- Occupation: Housewife
- Relatives: Husband: Zechariah. Son: John the Baptist. Relative: Mary
- Contemporaries: Joseph, Herod the Great
Key verses: “But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ear, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:43-45).
Elizabeth’s story is told in Luke 1:5-80.