Bonnie Alba
Two women, two babes -- Elizabeth's Joy! (Part I)
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By Bonnie Alba
December 20, 2013

Every Christmas morning, as a family, we have heard the biblical story of the birth of Jesus read aloud by our son or grandsons. I always reflect on the preparation that God did before and after which shows us that God is Sovereign and in control of events.

God had not spoken to his people Israel for 400 years. And then one day, an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah, an elderly Levite priest. He was serving in the Temple and was tending to the burning of incense on the Altar of Incense in the Holy Place. The angel appeared to the right of the altar and Zechariah saw him. His reaction? "When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and gripped with fear."

Was Zechariah startled that an unknown man was in the Holy Place and didn't belong there? Or, because he knew this person was an angel? Yet Zechariah was "gripped with fear" so he must have recognized the angel in some way.

We are never told what the angel looked like in appearance, but angels appeared as men in other occurrences in the Bible. Yet they were recognized as angels.

The angel calmed Zechariah down saying, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard." What prayer would that be? Zechariah's wife was Elizabeth. Both of them were getting on in years, yet they had not had any children.

It must have been a shock to Zechariah when the angel told him, "Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and a delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth..."

Unfortunately Zechariah came back with a question, as if he didn't believe what the angel was saying. "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." Oops! Not a good thing to doubt the word of an Angel of the Lord.

The angel answered Zechariah's doubt and disbelief with a strong rebuke:

"I am Gabriel, I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."

Sure enough, Zechariah came out of the temple where the people were waiting for him and he could not speak to them. The people finally realized that "...he had seen a vision in the temple because he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak."

Now the Bible says that when Zechariah's "service was completed, he returned home" – mute of course.

I do wonder what was in Zechariah's mind; did he mull over what the angel of the Lord had told him? Did he ponder these things in his heart? Or, did he still question? Maybe he thought he dreamed the whole thing? Or, possibly he just took a wait and see attitude.

So it was, Zechariah returned home, completely mute, and Elizabeth became pregnant. Elizabeth remained in seclusion for five months in thankfulness, joyfulness and devotion. She said, "The Lord has done this for me. In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people."

What was the disgrace? A married woman who had no children was not looked upon favorably by the people. Elizabeth must have suffered greatly from her barrenness and held a deep sadness in her heart because she had not had children. It is probable that she and Zechariah had prayed for many years for God to give her a child.

Now, God had blessed her. But this is not the end of this story for it is intertwined with a relative. Her name is Mary.

Stay tuned.

© Bonnie Alba

 

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Bonnie Alba

Bonnie Alba is a "politically incorrect" researcher-writer. Since 1995, her articles have appeared in California newspapers. Previously she served in various Department of Defense positions for over 16 years... (more)

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