Zacharias and Elizabeth
Luke 1:5-25, 57-65 

Good Morning to all of God’s People from the Voices of Hope Evangelistic Team!   It’s such a blessing to be able to worship with you today wherever you are!  I thank God for the opportunity to serve Him and to share His message with the world through today’s technology!   

We’re continuing our series on Couples in the Bible and today we’ll be studying Zacharias and Elizabeth.  Our scripture comes from the New Testament Book of Luke, Chapter 1, verses 5 through 45 and 57 through 65.  

We’re going to be looking at the lives of Zacharias and his wife, Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist, and the lessons we can learn from how they dealt with disappointment and kept their faith in God while waiting on His timing for an answer to their prayers. 

Now reading from Luke 1:5-25 & 57-65: 

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

6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 

7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. 

8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, 

9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 

10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. 

11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 

12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 

13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 

14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 

15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. 

16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 

17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. 

18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 

19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. 

20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. 

21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. 

22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. 

23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 

24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 

25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men. 

And picking up the story at verse 57:
Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. 

58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. 

59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. 

60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. 

61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. 

62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. 

63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. 

64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. 

65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. 

Let’s pray:
Philippians 4:6 says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” 

Heavenly Father, we thank You that You hear and answer our prayers.  But when it seems You aren’t answering our prayers it can be hard; we can feel hurt and confused.   While it’s okay to share that with You because You’re big enough to handle our honest feelings, I pray that we don’t let our feelings lead us away from You or away from Your truth. Help us to press into You, to praise You.  Give us the persistence and commitment to continue steadfast in Your love.  Help us to learn from Elizabeth and Zacharias’s example to ‘keep on - keeping on,” to trust You and Your timing and to never give up.  In Jesus’ name, Amen 

We live in a world today that can be called an instant gratification society; one where we expect to get things right now, the way we want them.  When we don’t get them, we become upset. We quit going to this restaurant because they didn’t serve us in a timely manner, or they didn’t give us exactly what we had asked for (I asked for Italian dressing, not French dressing). If this church doesn’t do things the way we like them done, then we go to another church. 

Then there’s social media which has conditioned us to expect instant answers to our requests. 

But it doesn’t work like that with God; He answers according to His timing.  God loves us and He wants what is best for us, but He isn’t into meeting our demands.  Just like any parent, He wants to do what’s best for us, even if it means living with hardship for a while, even if it means delaying the results of our prayer. God wants to deepen our faith, build our character, and in the process draw people unto Himself and make Himself known. 

In today’s scripture, we are introduced to Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth, who certainly had not received instant gratification to their prayers.   

Luke describes Elizabeth as coming from the priestly line of Aaron.   Zacharias was a Jewish priest of the order of Abia, which is one of the sets of priests who ministered in the Temple from Sabbath to Sabbath.   Verse six tells us that Elizabeth and Zacharias were righteous in God’s eyes, and that they were careful to obey all the Lord’s commandments and regulations.  Verse seven tells us of the pain in the hearts of Elizabeth and Zacharias:  they had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old. 

 Although Elizabeth is a Godly woman, she is childless and, in that day and especially for the wife of a priest, being unable to bear children was humiliating; she would want to have a son who would carry on the priestly lineage of their families. 

The common thought process back then went something like this, if you lived a righteous life, God would reward you with lots of children. Using the same logic, if you didn’t have children, it meant you were apparently not blessed by God; perhaps God was even punishing you for something you did wrong, some commandment you didn’t keep.  

I can imagine it was very difficult for Elizabeth and Zacharias, not only because of the disgrace they faced from their community with people looking down their noses at Elizabeth, judging her without reason, but also because it must have been a challenge to their faith.   

If we were in that situation, I imagine we would begin to question and wonder, why? "Why God, after all these years of faithfully following You, have You not answered our most intimate prayer, the request that is closest to our heart? Why do You allow us to suffer so?" 

Perhaps they, too, began to wonder if there was something they had done wrong; perhaps God had forgotten them, or He wasn’t going to answer their prayer. Doesn’t God bless the people who love and serve Him? 

Ironically Zacharias’s name in Hebrew means "God has remembered" or "the Lord remembers." So, every time someone said his name he was stung with this reminder.  As the years rolled by, they must have wondered if God had passed them over. 

It seemed that just when Elizabeth and Zacharias had grown used to the fact that they would grow old together without children, God interrupted their plans. 

Twice a year, Zacharias would leave home for a week while his division served at the Temple.  This had to be difficult for Elizabeth, but she also knew that it was an honor for her husband to serve in this way. 

This time, when Zacharias’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot to go into the Holy Place and burn incense. This was a once-in-a-lifetime privilege and was the greatest moment in the life of any priest. 

Many priests stand outside and thousands of worshippers have gathered in the Court of Israel, Zacharias stands alone in the holy place. Only he’s not alone because an angel of the Lord suddenly appears and announces in verse 13: “Do not be afraid, Zacharias; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.” 

Reading now from verses 18-25 from the New Living Translation:
“Zacharias said to the angel, ‘How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.’  Then the angel said, ‘I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.’ 

“Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zacharias to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary. 

“When Zacharias’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. ‘How kind the Lord is!’ she exclaimed. ‘He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.’” 

A baby is to be born to a couple that’s too old to have a baby, and to woman that has never had a baby before; that’s a miracle from God! 

I want to share the way Bala Samson, in her sermon “Elizabeth,” described the five months that Elizabeth hid herself after conceiving. 

“I was particularly awed by the humility of Elizabeth in hushing up her pregnancy after conceiving at a pretty old age in her life. When there was all reason for her to burst crackers and enjoy, yet Elizabeth chose to sit in His presence and meditate on the glory of the miracle. There is something deeper here, the more you are crucified in the flesh through pain, suffering, illness, failure, rejection, long period of draught and inactivity –when the miracle actually happens, you become silent! Tongue-tied! You get to see the totality of God’s glory – nothing of you but all of HIM! Are you listening? Every boastful word would cease; pride and arrogance would be replaced by silent worship! Have you ever tasted a tiny slice of this delicacy? It changes you! Elizabeth’s barrenness had actually beautified her….” 

And to conclude this portion of the story, we’ll read verses 57-65 from the New Living Translation. 

“When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son.  And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her. 

“When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zacharias, after his father.  But Elizabeth said, ‘No! His name is John!’  ‘What?’ they exclaimed. ‘There is no one in all your family by that name.’  So, they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him.   He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, ‘His name is John.’   Instantly Zacharias could speak again, and he began praising God.  Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills.” 

Summarizing what we’ve learned about Zacharias and Elizabeth:

 They were both righteous before God.
 They were childless.
 They prayed and trusted God for a son.
 They received a miracle from God. 

So, what truths can we learn from Zacharias’ and Elizabeth’s lives that will help us persevere in our prayers and deal with disappointment, remembering that for God to answer when we pray to Him, we must make sure that our requests are in harmony with what He tells us in the Bible. 

First, God is always working, even when we don’t see Him working.
While we are waiting for an answer to our prayers, God is working on us. 

Second, waiting on the Lord requires patience and trust.
It means giving God the benefit of the doubt, trusting that God will come through and fulfill His promises.   

Have we stopped praying for something because there’s been no answer? Don’t give up because when we pray God hears our prayers. 

In what area do we need to begin interceding again? Do we need to start praying again for that person who doesn’t yet know Jesus? For a relationship that will honor Christ? For our spouse? For a prodigal child? For our parents? For that impossible financial situation? 

Third, trust God’s timing.
God answers prayer according to His timing and His delays are not the same thing as His denials. 

Isaiah 55:8-9: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” 

In Elizabeth’s and Zacharias’s case, if God had answered their prayer and they had children early in life, would they have been praying so fervently for a child into their middle-aged years? Would people have been able to witness the miracle of two middle-aged parents conceiving a child? God had a better plan which required time and faith to unfold.  God used Elizabeth’s and Zacharias’s life-long disappointment to not only reveal Himself, but to call people back to Him!  

Maybe we need to recognize that God often uses our life-long disappointments to reveal Himself to us, to call us back to Him and to keep us looking forward! 

Fourth, speak up when the time is right.
I love how Elizabeth speaks up and speaks out.  She knew the child’s name was to be John, not Zacharias, and she wasn’t afraid to say what she knew to be true, no matter what others thought of her. 

In what ways do we need to speak up? Have we been holding our faith in? 

Jeremiah 20:9: “But if I say I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name, then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones and I am weary of holding it in and I cannot endure it.” 

And last, don’t give up. 

Don’t give up praying, don’t give up following God. God rewards those who are faithful, but he does so in His timing not ours. Our job is to remain faithful. 

We’ve been placed here at this time in history to carry the good news of Jesus Christ to people in both practical and spiritual ways, through word and deed, so as we close, let me share with you the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

And Romans 10:9-10 & 13 says:  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 

The work has already been done. There’s no better time than now to turn to God, repent and respond to His grace.  It's that simple. 

If you’ve known God but walked away from His call on your life to do your own thing, then it’s time to stop in your tracks, repent all over again and get back to fulfilling God’s plan in and through your life. Tomorrow may be too late. 

I pray once again that during the coming week we all take time to sit at the feet of Jesus and draw closer to Him.  I pray that we spend time studying God’s Word and that we spend time in prayer with God.  I pray that we use the gifts God has given us to serve and honor Him.  I pray that we find ways to share Jesus with our brothers and sisters through our words and deeds, and I also pray that everyone is blessed abundantly beyond their expectations.  

In Jesus’ name,



When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible on-line, please click here and may you be blessed by the song, "God Will Take Care of You."