Most of us have expectations of our children that began long before they were born. When things were not going to our liking as children, we may have thought, “Well, I tell you one thing. I’ll never treat my child this way!”
Because we usually believe our way of viewing the world is right, we start early trying to turn our children into “mini-me(s)”. The parents we will consider today had to change their thinking to receive God’s Gift of a child. And once they saw what that child became, they may have wondered if this was really what God had in mind, or whether they had completely failed as parents.
Elizabeth and Zachariah, the Parents of John the Baptist
Elizabeth and Zachariah wanted to be parents, but it did not happen. Many mothers today know the longing that comes from the inability to conceive. While some mothers-to-be are in panic at the positive pregnancy test, there are an equal or greater number, who grieve with each pregnancy test that is negative.
It is easy to become bitter and succumb to the thoughts satan offered to Eve: “God does not love you. He has not given you what you want.” But Elizabeth and Zachariah resisted the urge to feel deprived. Instead they continued to love the Lord God with all their hearts and to obey Him.
Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s Commands and Decrees blamelessly. Luke 1:6
When God considered who would be the best parents for His very important Servant, He thought of Elizabeth and Zachariah, who were mature in the faith, patient and trusting, even when things did not turn out as they had hoped.
God sent an angel to Zachariah to proclaim the joyful news that Elizabeth would become pregnant. He told him, “Your prayer has been heard!” Luke 1:13
Are you wondering if God has heard your prayers? If you did not get an answer the first few times you asked, did you give up? Zachariah, no doubt, had asked for a child for a long time. And it appears he did not stop asking. He never lost hope. Now he heard the Words he longed to hear. “Your prayer has been heard.”
Stop for a moment and think of all you have discussed with the Lord. Know God has not forgotten you. He has not forsaken you. He has been listening! Accept the Word of the Lord to you now, “Your prayer has been heard!”
The angel told Zachariah what kind of man his son would be. And he told him specifically what he was to name his son. This might have been the first expectation Zachariah had to give up. His son would not be Zachariah, Jr. He was to be called John.
The angel told him, “He will be a joy and 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 before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous — to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:14-17
Zachariah had been so faithful in his lifetime, but he had been presented with such amazing news, he just had to note, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years!”Luke 1:18
Very important lesson: Never doubt God! With God, nothing, absolutely nothing, is impossible. God can supersede any Law in the Universe He has made! God had a Plan and He was not about to allow Zachariah to speak words of doubt. He made Zachariah mute on the spot. The angel said,
“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 appointed time.” Luke 1:20
(Gulp! Praise the Lord He has not made me mute every time I spoke words of doubt!)
Zachariah was serving his time as priest at the time of this revelation. One would think he would run right home and write Elizabeth a note telling her they needed to get together right away! But he didn’t. Zachariah stayed at the temple until his time of service was complete. He was faithful to do what he had been called to do for the time he was called to do it.
But he then went home. Can you imagine his reunion with Elizabeth? Zachariah returned mute, and yet filled with news! Elizabeth did become pregnant, just as the angel said.
And Elizabeth was thankful. Her words should be our words in the presence of the many miracles the Lord gives us every day.
The Lord has done this for me. In these days, He has shown His Favor!
Meanwhile Elizabeth’s young niece, Mary, was getting amazing news herself. The same angel, who spoke to Zachariah, told her, “Even Elizabeth, your relative, is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For NO WORD FROM GOD WILL EVER FAIL!” Luke 1:36-37
Mary went to see Elizabeth right away. When Mary arrived and greeted Elizabeth, John leaped in Elizabeth’s womb. Remember the angel had told Zachariah that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit before he was born … and now Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit too!
Elizabeth confirmed in Mary the Truth that had been confirmed in her … and the Truth God has for all of us:
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His Promises to her!
And so it came to pass, that Elizabeth gave birth to a son. At the time of his circumcision, the temple officials were going to name him after Zachariah. Remember poor Zachariah was still mute. But Elizabeth spoke up, and said, “No! He is to be called John.” Luke 1:60
When Zachariah confirmed Elizabeth’s Words by writing a note, his tongue was loosed and he began to praise God! The neighbors were all talking and wondering what this boy was going to be. For it was obvious that God’s Hand was with him and his parents.
Even though Elizabeth and Zachariah had to adjust to many unexpected things through the arrival of John, they could never have predicted what John would become. Have you ever looked at your children, even your adult children, and wondered what they could possibly be thinking.
John had an unusual flair for fashion, wearing wild-looking clothing made of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. He lived in the desert wilderness, ate locust, and peached a strange message. John knew his mission and he set about with great zeal to fulfill it.
John called people out, challenging them to prepare for the soon coming Messiah. John minced no words. (Have you ever wished your children would be just a little more diplomatic in expressing their views?)
John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him,
“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you that out of these stones, God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees,
and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down
and thrown into the fire!”
Ouch! One would think with such a brutal message, John would be shunned or at the least, written off as a mad man. But he wasn’t. People kept coming, perhaps to hear John slam their neighbors. But under the Power of the Holy Spirit in John, they were convicted of their sins and were baptized by John.
We don’t hear what Elizabeth or Zachariah had to say in response. They had done their job of preparing the way for their son, who was preparing the way for God’s Son. And then one day it happened. John saw his cousin, Jesus, in a whole New Light! Stay tuned for the next post where we will join John at the River on that most amazing day when Heaven opened and God spoke!
Thoughts to ponder from today’s post:
Your prayer has been heard!
God’s Words will come true at the appointed time.
No Word from God will ever fail.
Blessed are you who believe the Lord’s Promise will be fulfilled in you.
Know that your children are a Gift from God, brought into the world to reflect His Glory. Look for God’s Glory, as He unwraps the Gift He has given you!