A beautiful biblical example of faithfulness is the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. Luke 1:5-25
Theirs is a story we can all relate to in some way, because all of us have been in the valley of life. All of us have at one time or another felt abandoned and forgotten. All of us have wondered if maybe we were being punished by God, that we had somehow disappointed Him. All of us have looked to our circumstances, instead of to God and felt the pangs of lack, and doubted the power of God to change our circumstances.
But there is hope, and that hope is real. Our hope is in the God who delivers on His promises.
I have pulled out five key points that I think will encourage you in your life today.
1. They were faithful despite their circumstances.
Zechariah was a priest, and he and his wife, Elizabeth, were advanced in years, most likely in their late 60’s, and had no children. In the Jewish culture, barrenness was considered not having God’s blessing. Despite their circumstances, and how people must have whispered about their plight, they remained faithful to God.
Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Luke 1 6-7
2. Their lack was not a punishment from God.
The Scripture says they were righteous in the sight of God. Did that mean they were perfect and never sinned? No. They were human. But their heart was set on loving and obeying the Lord. As you read their story, you can sense their humility. A humble heart greatly blesses God. I like to think that being righteous in the sight of God meant they weren’t trying to be impress people, but were truly living their lives for an audience of One.
God will send or allow problems into our life to help us grow spiritually. James 1:2-4 says,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
But we often will jump to the false conclusion that God is angry or disappointed with us, that He is punishing us, when trials come into our life. The enemy would love for us to wallow in that condemnation, as then we are more prone to try to hide from God.
3. They let their circumstances diminish their faith in God’s power.
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah at the altar and foretold him that he and Elizabeth would bear a son that would be a prophet of the Lord, that he would make ready a people prepared for the Lord, Zachariah did not respond in faith.
Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” Luke 1:18
Often we think of the people of the Bible as super-Christians, but they were ordinary people just like you and me. Ordinary people who God did extraordinary things through. They had doubts and uncertainties, struggles and failings. Zechariah looked at the impossibility of their situation, instead of at the God through whom ALL things are possible.
Garbriel responded to his lack of faith by binding Zechariah’s mouth so that he couldn’t speak until after the baby was born. I think this was a consequence of Zechariah’s fear, but it’s also further proof to Zechariah of God’s ultimate and sovereign power. Even in our consequences, God shows us the power of His grace.
4. God removed their shame.
After all the years of yearning for children, and maybe even giving up hope it would ever happen, Elizabeth became pregnant. The Lord was faithful in His perfect timing. He removed her shame and redeemed it by placing in her the fulfillment of His promise.
Is there something in you that you have been waiting to be birthed? Have you given up hope? God is always at work fulfilling His promises, but in His time and place. His plans are very personal and unique in each one of us, but they are also for His Kingdom and glory. His plans are much bigger than us. Don’t give up hope! Don’t quit before the breakthrough!
After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” Luke 1:24-25
5. God fulfilled His promise.
This little child born to Zechariah and Elizabeth did go on to become John the Baptist, the forerunner to the Messiah, preparing the people through confession, repentance and baptism for the coming of Christ. Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied the future of his young son. The fulfillment of God’s promise to save the world through his Son, Jesus.
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.” Luke 1:76-79
And He will fulfill his promises to you. The promise of salvation, peace, joy, victory, purpose and so much more, through a personal relationship with his Son, Jesus. He has not forgotten all He has promised. He is for you. Let us cling to that Truth so that we may have hope in the midst of our circumstances.
What are you grateful for today?