Women of the Bible – Zipporah

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Zipporah – “a little bird” or  “a sparrow”

Please Read: Exodus 2:21, 22, 4:24, 25 and Exodus 18

Will the real Zipporah please stand up?

I remember my grandma and grandpa watching an old TV show called To Tell the Truth that featured a panel of celebrities who would question three contestants and attempt to identify which of the them was telling the truth and which two were trying to fool them. At the end of the show, the host would announce Will the real [person’s name] please stand up?”

I think, like the game show celebs, we are going to have to ask a lot of questions of the biblical texts on Zipporah because commentaries are deeply divided on this woman. Is she a…

Heroine or a Harridan?

You can decide.

But first, some history…

Moses has fled from Egypt after killing a man. When he arrives at Midian, he sees seven young shepherdesses being driven away from the well by unscrupulous men. He rescues the sisters and waters their flock.  Do they thank him by asking him to dinner? No! Their father bawls them out and sends them back to bring Moses back to the family compound. Moses decides to live with Jethro/Reuel, the priest of Midian. Jethro gives Moses his daughter, Zipporah as his wife. She gives birth to two sons, Gershom and Eliezer.

So far, so good.

God shows up to Moses in a burning bush saying, “Take off your sandals. This is holy ground.”  He then commissions Moses to go and deliver the Hebrews from bondage in Egypt. But our hero is full of excuses. Five of them, to be exact.

  1. Who am I to go to Pharaoh? (I’m not good enough. I’m not qualified.)
  2. I don’t know what to say.
  3. What if they won’t believe me.?
  4. But I’m not a good public speaker!
  5. Please send someone else!

God overcomes every single excuse and sends Moses on his way. Now here’s where it gets weird. And controversial.

So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt… On the trip, at an overnight campsite, it happened that the Lord confronted (Moses) and sought to put him to death. So Zipporah took a flint, cut off her son’s foreskin, and threw it at Moses’ feet Then she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood to me!” So He (God) let him (Moses) alone.
Exodus 4 

Heroine?

Good News Version says: “O bloody husband!” (In British English “bloody” is a swear word many people find offensive that is used to emphasize a comment or an angry statement. Maybe this is where it came from!)

In order to make Zipporah a heroine in this situation, we have to assume that excuse-ridden Moses had not done what God had ordained and circumcised his own son as a sign of the covenant. The Study Bible for Women says: “Zipporah performed the rite that Moses had neglected; circumcision was necessary to identify the son as a “son of Israel”, a member of the covenant community…” In this version – we have to believe his wife became a follower of the one true God and took the initiative to obey God’s commands. She did what had to be done and saved her husband’s life.

I just can’t imagine the beautiful Yvonne De Carlo (who plays a gentle and wise Sephora/Zipporah in the movie The Ten Commandments) triumphantly casting cut-off foreskins at the feet of Charltan Heston? But that’s exactly what scripture says she did, so we have to consider the possibility that she’s a…

Harridan?

Definition of harridan:  an unpleasant, bad-tempered woman.

It’s possible Zipporah may have been an unbeliever who did not honor the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. She may not have allowed the circumcision because she didn’t hold with Moses’ beliefs and only now reluctantly completed the act to save her husband’s life.

Why come to this conclusion? I found several reasons:

  • Zipporah is not with Moses during the exodus. It is possible she ran home to daddy when the going got rough. Or Moses sent her and the boys home to protect them from the dangers in Egypt. We don’t know. All we know is that Jethro brings her back to Moses when Moses brings the people back to Mount Sinai.
  • Jethro, Zipporah’s father and priest of Midan, is considered the founder of the Druze religion – a religion that synthesizes all sorts of beliefs into one.
    • Yes, in Exodus 18 he says: “Praise the Lord who rescued you from Pharaoh and the power of the Egyptians and snatched the people from the power of the Egyptians. Now I know that Yahweh is greater than all gods, because He did wonders when the Egyptians acted arrogantly against Israel.”
    • Yes, he gives Moses good advice on delegation.
    • But, it is possible he just added Yahweh to his pantheon of religious practices and Zipporah was far more influenced by her father’s beliefs than her husband’s faith.
  • Moses and Zipporah’s progeny become rogue priests for the house of Israel; leaving the temple in Jerusalem and going to work for an idol worshipping tribe. If you search for the name Gershom in the Old Testament, you will find this story in Judges chapter 18.
    • The Danites set up the carved image for themselves. Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the Danite tribe until the time of the exile from the land. So they set up for themselves Micah’s carved image that he had made, and it was there as long as the house of God was in Shiloh.”
  • And finally, his sister and brother, Miriam and Aaron, criticize Moses for his “Cushite wife.” Some believe Zipporah had died and Moses remarried. Some believe that this is still Zipporah and Mirriam and Aaron are dissing her for being a disagreeable, dark-skinned woman. Midian and Cush are linked in Habakkuk 3:7.

Basically the commentaries are saying we should dislike Zipporah because she was not a supportive wife, she came from a heathen people, her children did not turn out well and Moses’ family didn’t like her. Ouch.

Heroine who saved her husband’s life? Or harridan who dragged him down? We won’t find out until we get to heaven.

How is Jesus involved in the story of Zipporah?

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Matthew 5:17-18:

I am so glad that Jesus came to fulfill all the Old Testament law and we no longer have to sacrifice offerings or practice circumcision for religious reasons. He paid the price for us once and for all.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Is there something your husband is not doing that you’d like him to do – do you feel like “throwing it at his feet” and shouting “Bloody, husband!”? What can you do, or do you do instead of insulting him like that?
  2. Have you heard stories about another woman and instantly judged her without gathering all the facts or talking to her first?
  3. Which did you choose? Is Zipporah a heroine or a harridan?

Prayer:

Lord, I lift up women who are married to men who do not walk with God. Help them to do the right thing and still respect their man. Help them balance submission to his authority and obeying You. Lord, I lift up women who are married to men who claim Christ but don’t act like it. Help them to patiently pray for their husbands and serve them faithfully. Lord, I lift up women who are married to godly men who neglect them for the sake of the church or the gospel. Fulfill them. Strengthen them. Be their all in all.  Amen

The Bottom Line

Things I learned from Zipporah: Sometimes it’s hard to sift through to the truth of who a person really is.


Women of the Bible – Jochebed

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Every year “The Ten Commandments” is shown at Easter. This is confusing to me. Wouldn’t it be better to show “Ben Hur – A story of the Christ” at Easter? Ah well, such is the wisdom of the TV programmers. Anyway, watching “The Ten Commandments” prepped me to write on Moses’ moms. It took four women to get Moses from infancy to adulthood. Let’s take a look at them all.

Hebrew Midwives – Shiphrah and Puah

Please Read: Exodus 1:15-22 (below)

Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah (means prolific or procreate) and the other Puah (means childbearing or joy of parents), “When you help the Hebrew women give birth, observe them as they deliver. If the child is a son, kill him, but if it’s a daughter, she may live.” The Hebrew midwives, however, feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this and let the boys live?”

The midwives said to Pharaoh, “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before a midwife can get to them.” So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied and became very numerous. Since the midwives feared God, He gave them families. Pharaoh then commanded all his people: “You must throw every son born to the Hebrews into the Nile, but let every daughter live.”

The midwives disobey the king and lie about it and God blesses them!?! Is God saying civil disobedience and lying are okay? Peter and the apostles were told to stop preaching and their reply was:

“We must obey God rather than men.”

The normal way we operate is to tell the truth(not lie) and to obey governmental authorities. God puts rules in place for our protection and our blessing. The government has received delegated authority from God and we are commanded to obey. However, when the government defies God’s law – telling us to murder babies – we are called to obey God rather than man. Shiphrah and Puah feared God and saved Moses’ life.

Jochebed – “The Lord is Glory”

Please Read: Exodus 2:1-10 (below), Exodus 6:20, Numbers 26:59, Hebrews 11:23

Jochebed is the first PERSON in the Bible whose name is compounded with the name of Jehovah God. We don’t actually get her name right away. She is just called a Levite woman.

Now a man from the family of Levi married a Levite woman.The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son; when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with asphalt and pitch. She placed the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. Then his sister stood at a distance in order to see what would happen to him.

Pharaoh’s daughter went down to bathe at the Nile while her servant girls walked along the riverbank. Seeing the basket among the reeds, she sent her slave girl to get it. When she opened it, she saw the child—a little boy, crying. She felt sorry for him and said, “This is one of the Hebrew boys.”

Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Should I go and call a woman from the Hebrews to nurse the boy for you?”

“Go,” Pharaoh’s daughter told her. So the girl went and called the boy’s mother. Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse him for me, and I will pay your wages.” So the woman took the boy and nursed him. When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

Godly Mother

 Jochebed was a godly woman – one of the most important mothers who ever lived. She raised not one, but three, godly children: Moses the deliverer and lawgiver, Aaron the first high priest and Miriam, a leader and poet. She only gets to be with Moses for a few years – some say weaning took place at 3 years of age, others say 7 years of age – but she implanted in him a faith in the one true God. (Google “first three years” to see how important they are.)
“The objective of parenting is to take the raw material with which our babies arrive on this earth and then gradually mold it into mature, responsible, and God-fearing adults.” –  Dr. James Dobson

Commentaries like to go on and on about how daring Jochebed was to hide Moses for three months. How did she do it? Wait a minute. Only the boy babies were to be killed, so….there were plenty of girl babies around crying and screaming and toddling about. Maybe at three months old she simply could no longer hide the fact that Moses was a boy. Maybe a neighbor saw her changing his diaper and she knew she would soon be reported to the authorities.

Whatever the circumstance was that led Jochebed to put her beautiful son in the crocodile-infested waters, we know it required courage, faith and overcoming fear. Hebrews 11 commends Moses’ parents for their actions. They prayed. They planned. They trusted God. That’s a good pattern for any mother to follow.

God has such a sense of humor and He rewards BIG FAITH. Unlike the Hebrew midwives who had to disobey, Jochebed actually obeys the edict to put all the boy children in the river. She just adds a floating basket, and trusts God to steer the “ark” to its final destination. She is rewarded. God not only saves her son’s life, He places Moses in the palace and Jochebed gets paid for taking care of her own kid! What could be better than that?

Pharoah’s Daughter

We don’t know whether Jochebed came to Pharoah’s house to nurse Moses or if he remained under guard with Jochebed in Goshen. Scripture would seem to indicate the latter. “When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son.”

Pharoah’s daughter takes over from here. We know she was a kind, compassionate woman. She was the only thing standing between Moses and certain death. She showed up at the right place at the right time and had mercy on an infant set adrift in a basket – showing God can use anyone, even a woman who does not believe in Him, to accomplish His will. Because of Pharoah’s daughter, Moses lived the first 40 years of his life in the palace. “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was might in words and in deeds.” (Acts 7:22)

Two women – a slave and a princess – preserved the life of Israel’s future deliverer
and so preserved the entire Jewish race.
Ann Spangler

How is Jesus involved in the story of Jochebed?

Like Mary, Jochebed gave birth to a special child. Like Mary, Jochebed had to protect her son from a ruler’s edict – Herod ordered all the baby boys killed just like Pharaoh. God supernaturally protected both Moses and Jesus – the law giver and the fulfillment of the law.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Scripture says three times that Moses was special, beautiful. Why do you think Pharaoh’s daughter decided to keep Moses?
  2. What about all the other baby boys who didn’t make it? Where was God when they were being killed?
  3. In what area are you failing to trust God in regards to the lives of your children?

Prayer by Ann Spangler:

Father, thank you for the gift and calling of motherhood. Help me to remember that my love for my children is merely a reflection of your own love for them. With that in mind, give me grace to surrender my anxiety (and courage to trust your path for them). Replace (my fears) with a sense of trust and calm as I learn to depend on You for everything. Amen

The Bottom Line

Things I learned from Jochebed: Who can find a godly mother? She is far more precious than jewels.

First published March 29, 2016


Women of the Bible – Mary, Mother of Jesus

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Mary, Mother of Jesus

Her name means: Bitterness

You can find her story in: Luke 1 & 2; Matthew 1 & 2, 12:46;  John 2:1-11, 19:25;  Acts 1:14

Mary, did you know  – that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know – that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.
Lyrics by Mark Lowry

Mary, did YOU know…

  • that the story of the birth of Christ in the book of Luke is told from Mary’s point of view?

Luke starts the book named after him with “Many people have tried to tell the story of what God has done among us. They wrote what we had been told by the ones who were there in the beginning and saw what happened. So I made a careful study of everything and then decided to write and tell you exactly what took place.  Every good reporter interviews the eye witnesses. Luke must’ve interviewed Mary because he shares intimate details that only she could know.

Mary, did YOU know…

  • that her family tree is found in Luke 3?

It’s Joseph’s family tree that is listed in Matthew 1. The two lines are the same except Mary came from David’s son, Nathan and Joseph’s line comes through King Solomon. So Jesus’ human blood line through Mary was clear of the so-called “curse of Jeconiah” (found in Jeremiah 22) but through His “legal father” Joseph, Jesus was from the line of kings. 

Mary, did YOU know…

  • that she was a humble peasant girl?

“She was just a poor girl in an insignificant town, from a humble family, with no great expectations that her life was going to be any different from her mother’s or from that of the other women in her town.”
Bible.org 

But God chose her to give birth to the Son of God and to be the “most blessed among women.”  What difference can one woman make? A lot if she believes. Elizabeth said Mary was blessed because she believed what God told her.

Mary, did YOU know…

  • that her blessing included total surrender?

When Mary understood the angel Gabriel’s message, she replied, “I am the Lord’s slave.” The original word here is doula meaning a female slave, bondmaid, handmaid, a servant, an attendant – one who gives herself up wholly to another’s will – devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests. Mary trusted even when she didn’t understand and was willing to sacrifice all for God.

The first thing she had to sacrifice was her reputation. In our day and age, it’s no big deal for a single woman to be pregnant (and if she doesn’t want to be she just gets an abortion because of the inconvenience of it all.) But in Mary’s day it was a scandal for her and for her fiancé, Joseph, for her to be pregnant before their engagement period was over. God had to come in a dream to Joseph and let him know he should not divorce Mary. 

Mary, did YOU know…

  • that she was a trusting traveler, going wherever God sent her?

Some are called to ordinary lives of faithfulness, never leaving their own hometown. But others, like Mary, are called to live extraordinary lives. To do that, Mary had to travel. A lot. First to her cousin Elizabeth’s house alone, then on to Bethlehem with Joseph, then to Jersusalem for the temple presentation, then running for their lives in the night to Egypt and finally back to Nazareth.

Mary, did YOU know…

  • that she was a poet?

Some commentators hypothesize that someone else wrote what has become known as Mary’s Magnificat – her beautiful song of praise to God. These “experts” think that a simple peasant girl like Mary could not possibly have spoken such eloquent, theologically correct poetry. But like Hannah before her, Mary knew God’s Word and had obviously hid it in her heart. With Elizabeth’s encouragement Mary’s mouth opened and her soul proclaimed the greatness and favor of God towards her and her nation. 

Mary, did YOU know…

  • that she was a thinker?

But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. Luke 2:19
His mother kept all these things in her heart. Luke 2:51 

Mary had a lot to think about: What the angel said to her. What Elizabeth said to her. What the shepherds said to her. What the Wise Men said to her. What Simeon said to her – especially what he said to her about suffering.

Mary, did YOU know…

  • that her blessing included suffering?

Simeon told Mary that a sword would pierce her own soul. And it’s true, she would have to stand by and watch as: her other sons doubted Jesus (not becoming believers until after He rose from the dead), her hometown of Nazareth wanted to throw her Son off a cliff and finally as her beloved firstborn died in excruciating pain on the cross.

Mary, did YOU know…

  • she was a good mom and a good advice giver?

“A child who is not taught to obey his parents will not obey God.” Herbert Lockyer

Mary had mothered Jesus all his life – and he was an obedient son all his life. At Capernaum, however, she pointed out to him that their hosts had run out of wine. Jesus had to separate Himself from his mother, gently rebuking her that He would do things in God’s time not hers. She didn’t seem to take offense at his words but gave the servants the best advice for every servant of God:

“Whatever Jesus says to do, do it!”

Mary, did YOU know…

  • that she is not a god?

Revered as the Mother of Jesus, Mary has been made famous in numerous paintings of Madonna and child. She also has more women named after her than any other woman in the Bible (think of all the derivatives of Mary in all the different languages – Marie, Maria, Marianne, Miriam, etc.) 

Mary was “blessed among all women” but she was still just a human being – not a god to be worshipped or prayed to. John MacArthur says that in certain faith cultures Mary is worshipped and considered more approachable than Jesus. This statement completely shocked me. Why pray to Mary when you can go straight to the Son of God Himself?

I couldn’t help but notice a couple of correlations to some Old Testament women. We already learned that Elisheba, Elizabeth in Hebrew, was married to Aaron the first of the priestly line. Miriam (which is the same name as Mary), was the sister of Moses. Just like Mary, she looked after the savior of her people when infant Moses was set adrift in a little basket on the Nile. Just like Mary, she leads God’s people in a beautiful song of worship after they crossed the Red Sea.

But then Miriam goes and ruins it all – grumbling and leading a rebellion against her brother Moses. God punishes her severely for her lack of humility. She failed to recognize that God had sent Moses alone to be the Deliverer. Not her. If people pray to Mary, Jesus’ Mother, its like Miriam all over again. Mary becomes a usurper of worship that should only be directed to her Son, Jesus Christ the Messiah.

How is Jesus involved in the story of Mary?

The coming of Mary’s son, Jesus, quite literally split time in two. Up until recently we measured time as BC and AD. BC stands for Before Christ and AD stands for Anno Domini – in the year of the Lord/in the year of our Lord. Some, who do not believe in God, would like to do away with marking time around the birth of Jesus so they have devised new labels for time: BCE which stands for Before the Common/Current Era and CE which stands for the Common/Current Era.

Me? I like the old way of marking time and am looking forward to the triumphant second coming of Christ. This time he won’t come as baby in the arms of a humble virgin . He will come as a conquering king. And who knows, maybe it will be sooner rather than later. After all, 2018 is the 70 year anniversary of Israel becoming a nation. 70 years is an important number in Israel’s history.  Something to think about.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Are you a doula/servant of God as defined above? If not, what is holding you back?
  2. What do you treasure in your heart? What do you meditate on?
  3. Do you know what Jesus says? Do you do what He says, obeying His Word?

Prayer:

Lord, the last mention of Mary in the Bible is in the book of Acts where she is praying in the upper room. Help me to be a committed prayer warrior like Mary. Help me to be a committed servant like Mary – one who quickly gives herself up wholly to Your will – devoted to You even to the point of disregarding my own interests. This is not easy but we learned in the story of Mary that with You all things are possible. Make it so. Amen

The Bottom Line:

Things I learned from Mary:  God can use women who are fully submitted to Him.


Women of the Bible – Elizabeth

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Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist

Her name means “Consecrated to God” or “God is my oath” or “A Worshipper of God.” 

You will find her story in: Luke 1

“Let every heart prepare Him room…”

Christmas is coming so I’m jumping ahead in my chronological study of the Women of the Bible to look at the three women of Christmas. We’ll start with Elizabeth. Her story is so refreshing to read after getting bogged down with the sinfulness and lack of faith in some of our Old Testament women.

Elizabeth’s name, unlike Delilah or Jezebel, brings positive connotations. Very few people in the Bible are praised as much for their godly character as Elizabeth and her husband are.

“They were both lovers of God, living virtuously and following the commandments of the Lord fully.” The Passion Translation – TPT

Gien Karssen says Elizabeth had “an independently developed spiritual life.” Luke 1 shows us a woman of deep faith and godly heritage. She was the daughter of priests. Zacharias was blessed to have her as a wife. Her name actually goes back a long, long way. The first in the priestly line, Moses’ brother Aaron, was married to Elisheba – the Hebrew equivalent of Elizabeth – and their sons were the founders of the Levitical priesthood.

Punished for Being Good?

The women of Elizabeth’s time all secretly longed to become the mother of the Messiah. Zacharias and Elizabeth were God’s faithful servants BUT they were afflicted with what was considered a curse in their day – Elizabeth was barren. Past the age of childbearing, she appeared to have no chance of becoming a mother at all, let alone the mother of the Messiah. Righteous yet suffering? Doesn’t quite seem fair, does it?

“They had waited together these many years, till in the evening of life the flower of hope had closed its fragrant cup; and still the two sat together in the twilights, content to wait in loneliness, till night would close around them.” (Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah Book One, Eerdmans, 1971, Alfred Edersheim)

But Elizabeth and Zacharias show us what to do when God says no. They kept on serving God, trusting Him and kept on praying. In their day, the people gathered to pray twice a day at the temple. Elizabeth was surely part of the crowd praying outside, waiting for her husband to appear after he performed his once-in-a lifetime priestly duty to burn incense before the Lord in Jerusalem. 

Okay, I’m getting up on my Soapbox: So where are the (twice a day, daily, weekly, maybe monthly, not even quarterly) prayer gatherings today? Where are the crowds of people gathering together, begging for Christ’s return, begging for the Holy Spirit to rain down in power on Christ’s body of believers, begging for God’s guidance in their lives? We, as the body of Christ, lack zeal for corporate prayer. I know this because I have spent the last 20+ years inviting women to prayer groups. No one has time to fit prayer in their busy schedules. They see it as just another thing to add to their To Do list instead of the source of power and peace that they so desperately need in their lives.

Zacharias Doubts

As Elizabeth waited anxiously outside the temple in the Court of Women, the angel Gabriel appears to Zacharias and says: “Your prayers have been answered.” Terrified, Zacharias immediately questions, “How can two old fogies like us have a baby?” It is a reasonable, pragmatic question given the circumstances but it reveals his unbelief. If I’ve learned anything about God, it’s that He has a sense of humor (and that nothing is impossible with Him.) Young people don’t even like to think about senior citizens having sex, but God used an old couple making love to bring a miracle baby into the world. As Ann Spangler says, “God was once again kindling a fire with two dry sticks.”

God had not spoken new words to the Israelites in four hundred years. Now, for a moment, He lifts the veil and lets Zacharias have a peek inside. No wonder Zacharias is surprised. I can’t be too hard on him. What would I do if an angel just showed up with a message from God and my circumstances looked IMPOSSIBLE?

I’m always praying God will show up. Why am I constantly surprised when He does? Zacharias knew God. He knew scripture. He just didn’t believe the fulfillment of a prophecy could happen through him. Isn’t it ironic?  John was sent ahead to make the people ready for Jesus and John’s own dad was the first doubter. As I looked at Elizabeth’s life, this sentence written by Gien Karssen, impacted me more than any other:

After her husband’s failure to believe Elizabeth “responded like a good wife who accepts weakness in her life partner.”

She didn’t berate him but kept on loving him even after his failure to believe. After she conceives, Elizabeth goes into seclusion for five months. Zacharias can’t speak and she isn’t leaving the house. I like to imagine the two of them looking up scripture, remembering all the old prophecies and contemplating who their son will be. They obviously knew God’s Word well.  When God finally opens his mouth, Zacharias will quote the Old Testament over thirty times in his song of praise (also known as The Benedictus) and filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth will inspire Mary to break forth into a song that will become know as The Magnificat. It happens this way…

Words that Inspire Praise

Gabriel has been busy. After he speaks with Zacharias, He visits Mary. She decides to come visit her cousin. When Mary arrives, Elizabeth becomes the first person in history to confess Jesus Christ in the flesh.

  • Before Mary arrived Elizabeth glorified God for her own miracle pregnancy saying: The Lord has done this for me. He has looked on me with favor.
  • But after she hears Mary’s greeting, baby John leaps inside her with joy and she shows she is a prophetess (knowing things she could not possible know without the revelation of God). She encourages Mary proclaiming: Blessed are you among women and your child will be blessed. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her!

So here’s the question to ponder:

Do my words cause others to burst into song or do my words bring others down?

How is Jesus involved in Elizabeth’s Story?

Women need other women. Especially when they are pregnant or raising little ones. The support, encouragement and advice women give each other when raising young children is priceless. I love the painting above showing John the Baptist, Jesus, Mary and Elizabeth together. Two women – one older probably past 60, one younger probably only 13 years old – raising their boys, their miracle babies, together. Two women encouraged each other at the birth of John the Baptist and two women – Salome and Herodias (more on them later) – will be responsible for John’s death.

Elizabeth’s prayers were answered in God’s timing. John means God is gracious (the mercy or favor of God).  Herbert Lockyer says – “Because of their old age when their son was born, we can assume that Zacharias and Elizabeth both died years before their godly son was cruelly murdered by Herod.” God in His grace, spared Elizabeth from witnessing her son being beheaded. Mary would have to look on as the crowd crucified her boy.

Jesus was so grieved by the gruesome death of his cousin, John, that he withdrew into the wilderness – the place John lived before he began his ministry of preparing the way for Jesus. Jesus said there was no man greater than John. A great man who had a godly mother.

Questions to Ponder

  1. How do you cope with adversity? Disappointment? Discouragement? Hope deferred? Do you turn to God in prayer first or only as a last resort?
  2. This quote from the workbook Life Principles from Women of the Bible Book 2 comforted me: Have you prayed about something only to think the answer was “No?” Are you waiting on God about something now? Remember, He cares about the smallest thing and is working all within the big picture of His redemptive plan – that includes you. Trust His timing and His goodness. His blessings may not come until they are almost too late, but God is never late – nor is He ever too early. His always on time, working according to His timing that is always perfect.
  3. What has the Lord done for you? How has He showed you his favor? Praise Him for it as Elizabeth did.

Prayer:

Lord, this is what struck me about Elizabeth – Your timing is perfect. I see it in the little things like my devotions being just what I need that very day and in the big things like you sending us signs of confirmation to sell our house and move a new direction when we retire. You will always provide what is best in my life because you love to give good gifts. As I wait, may I fill my life with Your Word. It is the light for my feet, the lamp revealing the path You want me to take. Teach me to trust that you are greater than all my trials and to wait with hope.   Amen.

The Bottom Line

Things I learned from Elizabeth: Love the doubters. Encourage each other to give glory to God.