Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Elizabeth's Joy - And Our Own

 By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo Courtesy of: Kolby Milton

“He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘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.... After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 'Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.'” 

~Luke 1:15-17, 24-25

Every Advent season, I am struck anew by the beauty and joy of Elizabeth's story. Part of what is so amazing about her story in the book of Luke is that the baby born to Zacharias and Elizabeth wasn’t just any baby who might have had an unknown or unclear or unpredictable future. No. This baby was the one prophesied about even before the close of the Old Testament; he was the one who would go before and usher in the ministry of Christ Himself. 

Four hundred years passed between when the last book of the Old Testament was written (and the coming Messiah was prophesied about again) and when the first book of the New Testament was written and the Messiah actually arrived on the scene. I imagine that some folks had begun to lose hope after so many long, silent years. Not only that, but as one generation died and another was born, some Israelite children may have even been unaware of the Messianic prophecies or at least had begun to view them as merely old fables and tales passed down by their ancestors. All hope seemed lost.

But then. Dawn broke on that morning so long ago, and there was a baby in the manger that was the long-awaited, long-ago-promised Messiah. But before He even arrived on the scene, first came John - the also long-awaited, promised forerunner of that Messiah and the one who was to “make ready a people prepared for the Lord”. 

Talk about a little bundle of joy! Imagine Elizabeth’s joy and amazement as she looked into his eyes when the pain and work of labor and delivery were done and she nestled her sweet wee one in her arms (the one she thought she would never be gifted with!). In her arms was the baby her ancestors had prophesied about, waited for, and looked for over the span of four hundred years. Though salvation had always been possible since the day the fall occurred and sin first entered the world, things somehow felt different. Now God was working again in incredibly tangible ways, and people soon would be able to come face-to-face with the incarnated Christ Himself. 

All those who had felt lost could be found. 

All those who had felt unseen could be valued.

All those who had broken pasts could be redeemed.

All those who had felt the burden and enslavement brought about by sin could be washed clean, forgiven, and freed.

All those who had begun to doubt the reality of a God were about to see Him.

All those who had been weighed down by unmet expectations and dashed dreams would feel joy again.

Isn’t that powerful to think about? Anytime the Word (particularly in the Old Testament) begins to feel archaic or boring or inapplicable to me, I try to put myself in the shoes of those who actually lived it. They were real people with real stories, emotions, and hearts just like ours. And they saw God radically change their lives.

Friend, as you are reading this this Advent season, I want you to know that all of this is open, available, and offered to you, too. It’s for you just as much as it is for me or the pastor down the road or the disciple in the Bible. It’s for all of us - good news that can change our lives. 

This joy that is brought about through the good news that Christ the Messiah in fact did come, is also being offered to you. Now, today.

It is joy that comes when the captives are set free, the lost are found, and the sinners are redeemed and made into saints. It is joy for you.

Reflection Questions:

1) Are you feeling joyful this Advent season? If not, why not?

2) Have you prayed that the Lord would restore His joy to you and the joy of your salvation?

3) What truth from Scripture can you meditate on today to increase your joy?

1 comment:

  1. Those six statements that begin "All those who . . ." caught my attention. I am one of those people! I've been found, valued, redeemed, washed, forgiven, and freed! I've seen evidence of God in my life and experienced his joy! That is INDEED powerful to think about! Thank you for the uplift, Rebekah!


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