I’ve always loved preaching during the Christmas season. To come up with some new angle was quite the challenge. Recently I discovered a new insight. From Luke chapter 1. It’s about John the Baptist’s parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah.
Both righteous Jews, who know their Bible, serve God faithfully, and obey their Lord. Getting along in years with no child for them. Lots of prayers and hope– all frustrated. Until… ministering at the Temple in Jerusalem, Zechariah hears directly from the angel Gabriel that in a few months they will have a son, who will be the forerunner of the Messiah!
Can you believe it? Zechariah had a hard time with that. He needed proof, something to counter his doubts. The couple are old and worn out. Every dusty thing, stored in their infant nursery, has been given away. But Zechariah will be silenced, unable to utter one word, until God’s promise has been fulfilled. He needs to listen.
Then Elizabeth discovers that the love they have for each other has resulted in the conception of a baby. Her reaction? Not hers alone. Imagine all the congratulations voiced, the gifts given, the nursery showers lavished on this older woman unexpectedly expecting this blessed event? But Luke writes in verse 24 that ‘After…Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden…’
Zechariah–in silence. Elizabeth–in seclusion. Today, I noticed something new. Zechariah, who leads in worship, now must live quietly for awhile. God has made him a promise. One that they were too afraid to believe in. What he needs most is to keep quiet, keep his mouth closed… and listen to God. To reflect. God has put him in a place where listening is all he can do. He needs to listen. Don’t we?
Sometimes the Lord will put us in a place where all we can do is hang on to His promises. Good people have questions and doubts. Been put on the shelf. Be quiet…and watch what God does. Listen to Him. Will we?
Elizabeth closeted herself for a period of 5 months. That’s a long time. What was this all about? I picture her getting closer to God. Spending time with the One who now has so blessedly answered her prayers. Distanced from distractions, even family and friends. Not much of a stretch to imagine that each of us needs to get away, to turn off the radio or television, finding some place and some time for Him. Someone has called aloneness that ‘splendid isolation’. At times, it can be. As for Zechariah and Elizabeth, of years gone by. Take time to be alone with Him.
I’m so glad God showed me something new in the Christmas story, for I was listening while alone in His Word! Now it’s your turn!
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that when you speak, we listen, drawing closer to us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.