By the time we meet up with Zachariah and Elizabeth in Luke 1, it seems all the luster of their Zachabeth status had dulled into shadows. Now into their 60s, they were the exact opposite of a power couple, and probably couldn’t even get cast on a 3rd-rate Celebrity reality show. And to seal the deal of their downward social spiral, the two made a poignant choice to live in Judea, an insignificant town miles outside of Jerusalem. The norm for the priesthood of those days was to lavishly live it up their elite Jerusalem homes as they often applauded themselves publicly with their own red carpet Oscar-style celebrations.
Did they find solace in Judea because they grew weary of the constant rumor mill surrounding their most unfortunate childless situation? Maybe. Or maybe the pressure on Zach to divorce Beth was increasing with every year now that she was well into the final countdown of her game, and completely outside the bounds of motherhood to be able to catch a Hail Mary. (See what I did there?)
I’d like to believe that Zachabeth moved into Judea to get away from the worldly influence of their sphere and the church politics of their day. I want to think that this couple cared way more about what God thought about them than what their peers did. Who cares who thought they were unrighteous as long as God loved and accepted them? These two would rather live a quiet life, outside the buzz of the society’s lies and chaos, so they would be able to hear God’s still small voice whispering they were still accepted and the best was yet to come.
And here’s the most inspiring treasure from their story. Are you ready for it? Because I’ve been meditating on this for weeks now, and have been so excited to share what God showed me to anyone who would take the time to read this. I so wish I was sitting with you right now to see your face when your heart receives these next words, and I’m using extreme restraint not to use the all caps button because you’ll think I’m yelling at you and that’s just annoying. OK, here’s the prelude:
For years…decades even…Zachariah and Elizabeth had to think God was not listening. Or worse, He was listening and choosing to not bless them. Come on! ALL they wanted was a child. It’s all they prayed for when they went to the Temple. Every. Single. Time. How redundant to have to say those same words to God week after week, year after year. Until finally, Elizabeth was beyond childbearing and all was hopeless. WHHHYYY? Why would God do this?? (Sorry, some of those all caps are seeping through.)
And this is the BIG IDEA: If God would’ve answered their prayers when they wanted Him to, Zachariah and Elizabeth’s son could not have been the forerunner to Jesus. He would’ve come 20-40 years too soon! Sure they would’ve had their son, and I’m sure that he would’ve been an awesome priest, but he would not have been the guy who fulfilled the prophesies from Isaiah 40 and Malachi 3 (scriptures both Zach and Beth would’ve studied and held dear), and he would not have been the superstar who prepared the hearts of the people to receive the Savior of the World, and he would not have been the totally rad dude who only wore organic fur and ate bee’s produce. And Elizabeth might not have been where Mary came to seek refuge to make sense of those first few months of her angel-induced freak pregnancy. We probably wouldn’t even be talking about Zachabeth today, were it not for God holding out on them and making them wait over 40 years for their blessing.
Are you getting this? Please allow God to let this sink in. Just because your life doesn’t look like you thought it would today, does not mean God is holding out on you. Just because you haven’t received the answer to your most precious prayer, by your timeline, isn’t because God isn’t listening, or because you’ve done something to not deserve his favor. Sometimes, we don’t see what we want from God simply because it’s not the right time. The moment of earthly maximum impact has not occurred, and so we must simply TRUST that God loves us and knows what is best. And that He is right by our side, helping us to master patience and perfect our faith. Selah.
Thank GOD, Zachabeth did not lose faith. May we follow in their steps and hold on to His promises…all the way until we catch that Hail Mary for our own touchdown.