Marriage and the Bible Based on the Living in Love Series by Richard L. Strauss, Biblical Studies Foundation - 1998
Never the Wrong People Chapter 9: Zechariah and Elizabeth
Class Consciousness • Who held the distinction of the “elite class” in Jerusalem in Jesus’ day? • Descendents of Aaron • About 20,000 of them in and around Jerusalem • Many in this group were proud, bigoted, arrogant, indulgent, self-seeking, and only outwardly religious. • Remember Jesus’ depiction of a priest in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
What’s in a Name? • Zechariah and Elizabeth are both from the line of Aaron. • Zechariah translates to “The LORD remembers.” • Elizabeth translates to “the oath of God.” • Elizabeth shares the name of Aaron’s wife. • By law, a priest was only to marry a woman of the highest reputation.
Devout Example • Luke 1:6 • Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. • “Blamelessly” – Their hearts were in the right place. • “in the sight of God” – Their devotion was not an outwardly show, but a submission to God.
Devout Example • Their devotion to God was no doubt the foundation to a strong and loving martial relationship. • Zechariah and Elizabeth also lived lives of relative humility for their priestly class. • Note Luke 1:39-40 • They did not live in the upscale surroundings of Jerusalem or Jericho.
But they had no children… • See Luke 1:13 • This was a desire of their hearts. • They committed this to prayer. • Outward vs. Inward Honor • Childlessness was a stigma in that society. • Rabbis insisted it was the result of divine disfavor. • Zechariah would have been “justified” to establish his lineage elsewhere.
Discussion • What purpose do you suppose God had in making Elizabeth barren? • What does this say about challenges God has put in your life? • 2 things to consider… • They committed it to prayer, in likely mutual support. • Zechariah moved on with God’s immediate purpose for his life.
One Fine Day at the Temple • NOT a run-of-the-mill day for Zechariah… • Zechariah served in the 8th of 24 courses. • Each course served at the temple 2 times per year. • Each course had nearly 1,000 priests. • This may have been Zechariah’ one and only experience in the Holy Place. • Zechariah completed his duties and was surprised by a divine encounter.
Faith Caching Up to Events • WHY do you suppose Zechariah responded the way he did to the angel’s proclamation? • Read Romans 10:17 • What was particularly gracious about the affliction God gave to Zechariah? • Imagine the charades Zechariah had to pull off when he got home to Elizabeth!!!
Elizabeth’s Ministry • God had a clear and specific purpose for Elizabeth in the area of ministry. What was it? • Read Luke 1:43 • Elizabeth clearly understood the purpose in both of their pregnancies. • Elizabeth had no problems showing due honor to Mary’s child. • No evidence of Elizabeth questioning why she didn’t get the higher honor.
Sheer Excitement • Zechariah and Elizabeth no doubt poured over the scriptures to fully learn and appreciate God’s chosen role for their son and the Savior for whom he would be the forerunner. • Their son would be a significant blessing not only to them, but for the nation (and world) as a whole.
His Name is “John” • Translates to “The LORD is gracious.” • Jesus Himself describes him as the greatest among men. • Read Luke 1:68-73 • What is conspicuously missing from Zechariah’ song? • What does this teach us about the greatest of blessings that God has given us?
Surrender and Faith • This is a story about patience, faithfulness, thanksgiving, and outward ministry. • At the time, God’s promises (for this family and the nation as a whole) seemed impossible. • Zechariah and Elizabeth responded in faith. • Zechariah and Elizabeth responded with ministry to others.
Application • Which of God’s promises do you find hard to believe? • How long does your faith persevere in the face of “unanswered” prayers? • What is your strongest inclination when blessing does come your way?
Further Reading • Luke 6:20-26 • Matthew 5:1-12 • How do these passages support the assertions made in this outline as to Zechariah and Elizabeth’s character? • Numbers 12 • How does this passage contrast the reaction Elizabeth had toward Mary?