A year or so ago, I decided to do a survey of the New Testament. I was hungry to dive into a study. Throughout my survey, I became enamored with the life of John the Baptist. As I studied his life, and the lives of those around him, it led me straight to Elijah. I thought you might also be interested in what I found out about their lives and the lives of those they interacted with. I’ve created a study to talk through the goings-on of these prophets. I would recommend that you read the passage of Scripture listed with each meditation. What we look at will come straight from what we find in Scripture. I’ll post one meditation a week throughout this year.
Zacharias, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist.
John’s story begins far before we find him baptizing Jesus. John and Jesus were cousins. We don’t know if they grew up together or not, but we do know when their mama’s were pregnant they both understood CLEARLY the roles their sons would play in each other’s lives.
Zacharias and Elizabeth had a quite a time of it. They were old and without children. Zacharias was a priest, so he was in the temple performing his priestly duties when Gabriel, the angel, came for a visit. Zacharias was terrified out of his mind. Gabriel told him his wife would conceive and Zacharias didn’t believe.
It is all a little unbelievable. Who would blame his doubt when the likelihood of his old lady wife conceiving was scientifically impossible? Think of your Grandmother, and then imagine her pregnant. Not. Possible.
But take a step back with me for a second. Zacharias was of the division of Abijah. The Levites were divided by family, and this “Division of Abijah” is what gave him his priestly duties. Zacharias’ family legacy and responsibility to God and the temple was incredible. Can you wrap your mind around generation upon generation of men fulfilling this same duty to God dating all the way back to the reigns of Moses and Aaron, David and Solomon? This family is one of incredible faith. They’ve experienced a lot through the generations, and have seen God’s faithfulness to his promises for hundreds of years. The stories of God represented through this line of people committed to God would be too numerous to name.
So now that we know where Zacharias has come from, let’s rethink his unbelief. Imagine being a priest in the temple, where your duty is to lead the people of God in worship and faith, having story after story of God’s faithfulness literally coursing through your blood. And then imagine standing there, in God’s presence, with a message straight from God, disbelieving the power of God. Not a high point in Zacharias’ spiritual life. God has inserted Himself in the family of Zacharias hundreds of times before, yet when the time came for God to break in on Zacharias’ own story, he did not have eyes to see the work God was continuing in his family.
Before we get too down on Zacharias’ unbelief though, let’s look at the story of our lives. How have we seen God’s faithfulness and still remained unbelieving?
God isn’t satisfied with Zacharias’ unbelief. If Zacharias couldn’t find it in himself to speak words of faith, God would orchestrate the next 9 months of his life so that the very next words he would speak would be words of belief rather than doubt. God strikes Zacharias mute for the entire pregnancy.
Zacharias goes home a few days later after his service at the temple is complete, and his wife conceives. Just like that. After years of barrenness, she now is carrying a son. As far as we know, Elizabeth never faltered in her faith. From the relaying of the story, all she felt was a deep gratitude. After she conceives she takes a moment to say, “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.” -Luke 1:25
She recognizes the great gift God has entrusted her with. She’s been disgraced in her barrenness, probably shamed for her lack of children, and possibly even judged by others asking what sin might have made her unworthy of children. But her faith doesn’t falter. Even in the crazy unlikely event that she could conceive at her age, she maintains her faith and shows deep gratitude.
And where Zacharias and Elizabeth believed there would be no generation to follow them, their son becomes the fulfillment of prophesies and promises God had been making for hundreds of years. They get to see a generation after them walk with God, and prepare the way for God Himself to be made manifest among them.
What is your story of faith? How did you come to believe in God? Do you represent a family who has walked with God for generations, or are you beginning a new legacy?
What do you hope your faith will look like when you are Zacharias and Elizabeth’s age?