This morning our pastor considered the familiar story from Luke 1 of the angel Gabriel’s visit to Zachariah:
(MSG) 5-7 During the rule of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest assigned service in the regiment of Abijah. His name was Zachariah. His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. Together they lived honorably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God. But they were childless because Elizabeth could never conceive, and now they were quite old.
Our pastor mentioned that for a woman, being married to a Levite (a descendent of Aaron) was enough to elevate your status in that community. And needless to say, being a Levitical priest was the equivalent of being a doctor or lawyer or senator/congressman/member of parliament. They had the pedigree. They had the position.
So in terms of status they had it all. But on top of that,
“They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” (vs. 6 NASB)
But one thing was missing. There was one thing they lacked.
Having a child was a sign of God’s blessing. And they were childless, and they were very, very old; too old for that situation to change. A rather odd incongruity, don’t you think? People back then did.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught
(AMP) Matt 5: 45b …He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].
I get two things from this story-within-a-story.
First of all, everybody you know has some thing or things in their lives that are less than perfect. Less than complete. Less than fulfilling. You may see an individual or couple or family that appears to have it all together, but in fact, there are circumstances in their lives that break their heart(s). Financial challenges. Marital frustrations. Physical health problems that you don’t see. Children (or parents) or are estranged. A demoralizing job. Depression. Past regrets. Constantly comparing their situation to other peoples’ lives. (Maybe even yours!)
Elizabeth and Zachariah had it all, except for one obvious, glaring thing; something that in their case wasn’t hidden.
Everyone has something they live with.
Secondly — and this is similar but different — living righteously and blamelessly is no guarantee that circumstances are going to change. It did for this couple, but that’s why we call it a miracle. Couples of advanced age don’t usually experience a pregnancy.
And I don’t for a minute believe that they were walking uprightly in the hope that God was going to do what He in fact did. That option had expired. They were both past their sell-by / best-before date when it came to progeny. They weren’t ‘giving to get.’
They were “careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations” (NLT) or “statutes” (ESV) because it was the right thing to do. It was who they were. It was their response to who God is.
Above we read these words: ‘Everyone has something they live with.’ Maybe you’re not dealing with childlessness like Zachariah and Elizabeth; maybe it’s something more superficial, but it still eats away at you… Ever wished you were taller? Or you could change the oil on your car? Or fix a plumbing problem? If you find yourself constantly reminded of your inadequacies, you might enjoy this post.