ZECHARIAH and ELIZABETH
Today we move temporarily from the line of Judah to the descendants of Levi and we meet a man and his wife who are described as follows:
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
and as we read these words there should immediately be a buzz of excitement for we have seen godly, barren women before in our Advent history and we shall not be disappointed. I am sure that we all know the story well for we have heard it rehearsed countless times as we have celebrated Christmas year on year.
Zechariah is carrying out his allotted duty in the Temple when he is visited by an angel of the Lord causing him, unsurprisingly, to be troubled and fearful but the words the angel spoke (v.12-15) stirred a deep hope in Zechariah’s being. Was this the moment when God would step in after 400 years of silence and send one last prophet? But how? Elizabeth was past child-bearing age but…….
Because this was too big to imagine or believe, he was struck dumb till the birth of the child the angel had promised the couple.
There was, then, a special experience for Elizabeth as the babe in her womb leaped for joy when Mary came to visit her.
Things are moving fast now as the baby is born and named John against all the odds and the people asked
‘What then will this child be? For the hand of the Lord was with him.’
Years of waiting and two significant births take place. Both unusual, one to an aged woman and one to a virgin. But that, as we have seen through our History of Advent, is so often how God works.
Tomorrow we will reflect on John before turning to Mary and Joseph on Thursday.
Sadly because we know the story so well we cannot fully share the sheer wonder of what is recorded here but let us ask God to excite us in an extra special way as the History comes to its climax and fulfilment.