Friday, March 14, 2008

Bible Study About Elizabeth And Zechariah

I love the story of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah found in the first chapter of Luke.
Elizabeth is the woman I read about this week in my devotional.

The part of their story that I want to share with you today starts with Elizabeth's husband and the angel Gabriel in the temple of the Lord . Here is a small part of the conversation that takes place between them.

Luke 1:11-13
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.
When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.
But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.

Luke 1:18-20
Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."
The angel answered, "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."

Zechariah would not be able to speak until the birth of his son, because he did not believe what Gabriel told him. His doubting caused him months of silence.

Putting myself in his shoes, I'm sure I would have been overwhelmed by the encounter with Gabriel. I would probably even be a little mad at myself for having so little faith when God Himself sent an angel with a message for me!
I would definitely have been frustrated not being able to speak. Trying to make hand signals that people could understand, or having to write every single word I wanted to say. (Which let me be honest, I always have a lot of words to say.)

Imagine how much you would have to say after an encounter with Gabriel.
Imagine Zechariah having to explain to Elizabeth why he could not speak for so long!

Just like Gabriel said, Elizabeth became pregnant and gave birth to a son.

Luke 1:57-64
When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah,
but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John."
They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name."
Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child.
He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John."
Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising Go

What touches me the most about this scene is that Elizabeth and Zechariah's family and friends cannot understand why they would go against tradition in the naming of their son. It doesn't make any sense to them.

That is still true today. So many times when we are being obedient to God in an area of our life, the people closest to us do not understand our desire to follow the path less traveled. It may confuse them, or sometimes even make them angry at us. They just simply don't understand, because God is not speaking to them in that same area of their own life.

In the case of Elizabeth and Zechariah, their family and friends are so confused by her wanting to name their son John, read again what Scripture says happened.

Luke 1:61-62
They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name."
Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child.

These verses provide us a glimpse of God's sense of humor.

Notice it says they made signs to him?.....

But "they" weren't mute.... and Zechariah was not deaf.

They were so confused by Elizabeth declaring something that went against tradition that they were not able to speak!

It makes me laugh out loud just picturing the entire scene play out.

I know in my own life I have done things in obedience to God that have made some people look at me like I was crazy. It's comforting to read this story and realize I am not alone; the same thing has been happening to people following God since the beginning of time.

Ecclesiastes 1:9
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

While thinking about how frustrating it must have been for Zechariah to go so long not being able to communicate with people the way he wanted to, I was reminded of a funny scene from When Harry Met Sally. Think of Zechariah as you watch it, and thank God for His sense of humor and the gift of laughter.:)

Genesis 21:6
Sarah said, "God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me."


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