For December I wanted to dwell on God’s glory. The chorus of one of my many favorite Christmas songs, “Angels We Have Heard on High (Gloria in Excelsis Deo)”, quite rightly places the praise and honor directly to God…Gloria in excelsis deo means glory to God in the highest, and praising God during Christmas, though we shouldn’t stop and do it only in December, is something that we should focus on.
With this in mind I’ve decided to focus on just four of the responses to God’s Glory in the Nativity Story. I will be looking into the responses of Elizabeth, Mary, the Angels and the Shepherds. And I will be doing one a week.
So today’s post is about Elizabeth.
We all should know her story. The book of Luke starts of with Elizabeth’s story- she and her husband, Zechariah, both from priestly lines–he from the line of Abijah and she from the line of Aaron. They were righteous in God’s eyes but they had no children “and,” my NLT version says, “now they were both very old.” My Bible does not give me their ages…so I have no clue as to what they mean by very old…were they old like Abraham and Sarah??? (Luke 1:5-7) One day Zechariah as in the temple doing his priestly duties (his once in a lifetime chance really), and he was approached by an angel of the Lord. This angel told him that the Lord had answered their prayers because Elizabeth will bear him a son and they were to name him John. The angel continued to say that he will have great joy and gladness and others will rejoice with him…then the angel started to tell him about what John would be like. He would be filled with the Holy Spirit. He couldn’t touch wine or liquor, and he would be the one that would point the people to the coming Messiah…he’d be like Elijiah. (Luke 1:8-17)
Can you imagine if this was happening to you? Wouldn’t you be stunned? I think Zechariah was because he asked how can this be? My wife and I are old? The Angel, shocking him some more, said “I am Gabriel! I stand in the presence of God. It was He who sent me.” Well, because Zechariah didn’t believe, Gabriel made it so that Zechariah couldn’t speak…and he’d be silent until the birth of John. (Luke 18-21)
Well not long after Zechariah’s return home, Elizabeth became pregnant and went into seclusion. But Elizabeth exclaimed in response to the Lord’s glory and power, “How kind the Lord is! He has taken away my disgrace of having no children!” (Luke 1:23-25)
Elizabeth was thankful to the Lord. She commented on His kindness and His grace towards her. I can only imagine the many songs she sang of thankfulness. Perhaps she sang this one:
Psalm 100 – “Shout with joy to the Lord, O earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”
I love that Psalm! Remembering who we should thank and who we should praise. Reminding us of the Lord’s unfailing love and faithfulness to us.
Now, she may even sang this one. Psalm 98.
“Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has done wonderful deeds. He has won a mighty victory by his power and holiness. The Lord has announced his victory and has revealed his righteousness to every nation! He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel. The whole earth has seen the salvation of our God. Shout to the Lord, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy! Sing your praise to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and melodious song, with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn. Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the earth and all living things join in. Let the rivers clap their hands in glee. Let the hills sing out there songs of joy before the Lord. For the Lord is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice and the nations with fairness.”
This Psalm really does identify Jesus in this passage and what he will do in the future. But most importantly are the words “victory,” “righteousness,” “He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel.” That tells it all right there.
What I really love is the fact that it says to “sing a new song.” Elizabeth had a new song to sing. She was no longer barren; she was also chosen by God to carry and raise a child chosen by God to do great things for Him. She had to move past her past sorrows or resignations and sing her new song, of thankfulness, of praise, of great joy.
Elizabeth’s response in Luke shows where she places her thankfulness and praise…to the Lord. Even when she meets up with Mary in Luke 1:39-45, she exclaims to Mary, “You are blessed by God above all other women, and your child is blessed. What an honor that is, that the mother of my Lord should visit me!” I love how she identifies the Lord…not just the Lord…but her Lord.
Her response to God’s glory is expressed in knowing and thanking her Lord.
I think this is something to hold on to…something to do right now. Do I respond to my Lord in this way? What a challenge!
Next up: Mary’s response to God’s Glory