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Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: Elizabeth—Luke 1.

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"There was in the days of Herod the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth."

The name Elizabeth signifies "The oath of God," or "The daughter of the covenant," and Elizabeth was a true type of a covenant daughter of God. It is written of her, as well as of her husband, that they were "righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."

How few there are, especially how few married couples, who are


who, tried in the balances of the sanctuary, are found blameless! How few of whom the Lord Himself can say they are righteous, how few who are Israelites indeed in whom is no guile, or, who, like Daniel, are found with no fault in them concerning their daily work. (Dan 6:4.)

Zacharias and Elizabeth were of one mind, and that mind was obedience to the Lord without a question. Yet they were not without trial. The Lord's people are always a tried people. It is the invariable rule that what the Lord sees to be gold must pass through the fire and be refined. Every one whom the Lord loveth must endure chastening; every son whom He receiveth must be scourged, and every daughter too. (Heb 12:6.)

This blameless, righteous, priestly couple, "had no child, because that Elizabeth was barren, and they were both now well stricken in years." This was no small trial; but there was another far more intense: it was the degeneracy and unreality of the Jewish religion of their day.

A day came when Zacharias brought strange tidings to Elizabeth. They were not spoken by word of mouth, for he was dumb, but in writing, he made known to her how he had seen a vision in the temple, and how their prayer of years for a son was heard of God; how this son should be a Nazarite, and should be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother's womb; that he should be an evangelist with power, and many of the children of Israel should he turn to the Lord their God; that he should "go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias; to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." And he made known to his wondering wife that his very dumbness was a sign from God that these words should be fulfilled in their season. This message brought about


in this woman's life. The faithful routine of service in little things to God, the quiet but almost despairing cry that she, like her sisters around her, might have a child, and that he might be a power in the service of her God, and then the quiet renunciation of her will-this had been the life of Elizabeth day after day, month after month, and year after year. And now this strange revulsion, this unexpected break, this light in the midst of darkness, was an appeal from on high to her how far she could trust her God to do what He had promised. Scripture is silent as to whether Elizabeth believed at once; but, in any case, she did believe, sooner or later, and there must have been an increasing silence in her soul as she rose to her vocation as the mother and guardian of the future prophet and forerunner of God's Messiah.

There came a day when, in her quiet home in the hill country of Judea, Mary, her cousin, came to see her. This visit had a wondrous effect upon Elizabeth. She was


In point of chronology, the very first human being of whom such is mentioned is Elizabeth, and she spake out with a loud voice and said:

"Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"

Mary had held no communication with Elizabeth. There was no penny post in those days. But the Spirit of God in one woman recognised the Spirit of God in the other, and it was a message from on high to Mary when Elizabeth recognised her as the Messiah's mother.

What the communion of spirit between these two women was, and what the intense nearness to God, in the impossibility of explaining their position to man, it would be impossible to imagine. All unworthy in themselves, but wondrously privileged by God, the mother of the Messiah and the mother of His forerunner understood Him, and understood one another, and Elizabeth, as being the elder addressed her younger cousin thus:

"And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord."

When Elizabeth's son was born, her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shown great mercy upon her, and they rejoiced with her. It was a fulfilment of the angel's prophecy to her husband. "Thou shalt have joy and gladness: and many shall rejoice at his birth." (Luk 1:14.)

But there was one whose voice was unheard, and yet he was a deeply interested party. The tongue of Zacharias was still tied; the father of the future prophet was still dumb. But on the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child, and they called him "Zacharias," after the name of his father; but Elizabeth had understood the heaven‐given name, and she alone withstood the relatives, and said:

"Not so; but he shall be called John."

The male relatives argued the point; they wanted, in Jewish fashion, to preserve the family name, and disregarding Elizabeth's decision, "they made signs to the father how he would have him called," and Zacharias traced upon his writing‐table the simple words:

"His name is John."

Thus he justified his believing and obedient wife. This act of faith performed, "his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God."

Elizabeth had found her vocation-to pray for and to train the future prophet. She could not have said to Mary, "Blessed is she that believed," except she herself had been "strong in faith, giving glory to God." Blessed was John to have such a mother, and blessed was Elizabeth to have such a son.

God raise up amongst us mothers like Elizabeth, for the well‐being of His Church, and for the training of His prophets.

Belshazzar’s Queen Mother—Daniel 5. ← Prior Section
Mary, the Mother of Jesus—Luke 1:26-38 Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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