It’s Ann here, and this whole month we’re going to be looking at different couples in the Bible who had a faith difference. Today, I have the pleasure of kicking it off, and so let’s turn to Luke 1 to meet our first couple: Mr and Mrs Zacharias – That is, Elizabeth and Zacharias. We know the story well, but is there a SUM twist to it?
We find them living a settled life with friends and neighbors. Having each grown up in tradition they were always on the same page (Luke 1:6), but one day – Oh SHOCK– the power of the Kingdom broke in and divided them. Aggh!
That 'breaking in' involved the barren and elderly Elizabeth receiving a miracle pregnancy. The Lord put a seed of faith inside her, she conceived and, SUMites, we all know what happens next. A seed of faith comes into a marriage and it does interesting things – One spouse can respond quite differently to the other, which then has different consequences for each.
Now, Elizabeth and Zechariah were each given the opportunity to believe this miracle, but faith is belief in things unseen (Hebrews 11:1) and for Zacharias it was just such a stretch. His go-to response was to say a ‘logical’ “Yeah? ... er.... Nah.” An angel was right in front of him telling him the GOOD NEWS, and yet he questioned it. Not even the visible presence of the supernatural could crack him. I'm smiling a little at that because I know what that looks like.
He says: “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” And he receives a response:
“I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring these glad tidings. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.” (Luke 1:19-20; NKJV)
Now, here's the SUM part: In the same passage, Elizabeth’s response is pointedly different. She says, “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” (v. 25), choosing to hide herself -- go deep with God -- for five months in wonder. Although it is unclear what then happened with Zacharias, the contrast between the two of them is a symbolic part of the story.
Elizabeth and Zacharias are then catapulted into strange things, and who knows how much is seen by the relatives and neighbors. Often a SUM situation is kept quietly in a home, a deeply private thing between man and wife. It’s something you often can’t explain to others. All the while, Elizabeth endures a spiritually intense time: Five months of believing something with no physical evidence is probably very difficult but does something profound to her. Emerging from her secret place (Psalm 91:1), she eventually begins to pour out the Holy Spirit:
“ ... and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice –" (Luke 1:41-42)
She speaks. He stays mute. My friends, how much is this like our life? But then the effortless way in which the Holy Spirit pours out of her is her visible reward for time spent believing.
The words Elizabeth spoke, in turn, were a banquet for the lonely teenage Mary, who had herself been divinely connected to Elizabeth for Kingdom purposes (Luke 1:26-36). Elizabeth’s faith propelled Mary into being able to understand her own difficult walk and to say: “My soul magnifies the Lord!” or, "Oh, Praise God!"
It occurs to me that God took Elizabeth on this lonely path so that she could support another. And so I ask, today, “Who am I here for, Lord, during this SUM time?” It doesn’t matter that my beloved Zacharias is on his own path; God has stuff for him ahead, but he also has stuff me to do so I will roll up my sleeves and get on with it.
I love this story and hope you enjoyed this first post in our study. Now over to you -- It would be great to chat in the comments. What thoughts would you like to share?