As a young girl growing up Catholic, I remember kneeling in the dim church as I lit a candle below the statue of the Virgin Mary. I would think of what it must have been like for this young girl carrying the Son of God. Did people believe her? Did she know who He was? What was her life like? Most of the time Yeshua’s birth story is concerned with His virgin birth but today, we are going to focus on the relationship of Miriam (Mary) and Elisheva (Elizabeth).
Let’s begin with Elisheva’s story in Luke 1:5-7; “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisheva. They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elisheva was barren, and they were both advanced in years.” During this time, the lack of children was considered to be a curse. The idea was “you must have done something wrong”! But, God is very clear to show us that these two were “both righteous in the sight of God”. Zacharias was a priest and was chosen by lot to enter the temple, so even though there was a stigma of shame for Elisheva’s barrennesss, he still functioned in righteousness. As he fulfilled his duty we see God intervening in their circumstances in Luke 1:12-14, 17, “Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elisheva will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”’ Now, Zacharias and Elisheva had been praying for a child. Look how Zacharias responds in Luke 1:18, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” Can we blame him? So many times, God tells us something, and we have so much trouble really believing Him! Unfortunately, because Zacharias had disbelief, the angel Gabriel made him silent until the birth of his son.
After Zacharias served his days in the temple, he returned to Elisheva and she became pregnant. Elisheva kept herself in seclusion for five months, and she says in Luke 1:25, “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.” In her seclusion, Elisheva surrounded herself with the joy of answered prayer. She had prayed, her husband had prayed, and finally God had answered. She had waited for a long time, however, God had shown himself to be faithful. I can see her in her home with a glow on her face, not just because she was pregnant, but, because her hearts cry had been heard. You see, when you have longed for something that appears to never be possible, hopelessness and sadness sets in. I am sure that Elisheva had struggled with those feelings for many years. Some of you reading this right now are struggling with hopelessness. Elisheva stayed focused on walking in righteousness, acknowledging her pain, not letting it detour her from God. Now, instead of the pain she has immense joy! Can you imagine what the neighbors were saying? The questions that must have been on their minds, “why is Zacharaias not speaking? How can Elisheva be pregnant in her old age? The community was probably in an uproar, as life that had been exactly the same for many years was now turned upside down.
Elisheva had walked a life of righteousness even though God had not answered her deepest prayer. Her life was now going to help another. God had prepared the stage and now His story was going to unfold.
Join us next time for part two of ‘The gift of friendship!’