Zacharias and Elisabeth
Three events shape all that we believe today: Christmas, the Cross, and Resurrection Sunday.
Three places frame all that we believe today: Bethlehem, Golgotha, and the Empty Garden Tomb.
At Christmas the Infinite One became and infant, the Creator lay in a cradle, the Most High slept in a manger.
Without the manger -- we could have no Cross.
Without the Cross - we can have no hope.
Only a perfect man could take the place of sinful mankind. So the Wonder of Redemption starts at the Incarnation - when God became a man, Christ Jesus, the Son of David.
Open with me to Luke 1 and meet these two saints Zacharias and Elisabeth.
Even the order of their names in Hebrew conveys a message from God. First we meet Zacharias whose name means "Yahweh remembers". Next we meet his wife Elisabeth (meaning "His oath"). Zacharias was one of 24,000 priests who served 2 weeks each year by rotation. As an aged man, it was a supreme honor given once in a lifetime to serve at the altar of incense. This was a high honor that was permitted to a priest but once in a lifetime. The incense was offered daily before the morning sacrifice at about 9 AM, and after the evening sacrifice, about 3 PM in the afternoon. It was probably the evening offering that was assigned to Zacharias.
So there they are two obscure people from 20 plus centuries ago, known only to us from the pages of Scripture. Other than these few verses in Luke, little is known about Elisabeth. But this we should always remember -
· Elisabeth sang the first song of the New Testament (1.42-45).
· Elisabeth was the first person filled with the Spirit (1.41) in the New Testament. By the way the 1st Spirit filled family is this family. Elisabeth, John (1.15), and Zacharias (1.67) were each described as filled with the Spirit of God.
· Elisabeth was the first recorded example of a New Testament woman of faith, even when her husband Zacharias was not. He was struck dumb because of his unbelief, but Elisabeth was not. She believed God (1.24-25).
· Elisabeth encourages Mary (1.45). Mary was a young woman with so many challenges as an unwed mother in the Jewish culture. Elisabeth was an older woman who had walked with God for many years, who assures Mary that God would bring to pass all that He had revealed to her. In that time and place, how Mary needed the loving encouragement that Elisabeth gave.
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