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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Elizabeth and Mary

God is about to do a new thing on the earth. God has been silent for over 400 years. Not a prophet of God has spoken God's Word for all of that time. However, God has not forgotten His promises and covenants with His people. He is about to bring His Word to life in the flesh through His Son Jesus Christ. He will begin His plan of redemption through the forerunner--John the Baptist-- to fulfill scripture. Miraculous "new birth" is coming to Zechariah and Elizabeth (priestly tribe), and Mary (kingly tribe). Zechariah is performing the 8th division out of 24 divisions done in the Temple. Eight is the number of a "new beginning or new birth."

Elizabeth and Zechariah were beyond child-bearing years (elders) and without an heir. It would take a miracle of God to give them a son. The Bible says that both Zechariah and Elizabeth were "righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commands and decrees blamelessly." Luke 1:6 Oh that we would all receive such a commendation from the Lord! God praised Elizabeth and Zechariah for their faithfulness, obedience and righteousness. God will honor their faithfulness and righteousness by giving them their deepest desire -- a son and heir. In Biblical times, being barren was thought to be a sign of God's displeasure and judgment. But not so with Zechariah and Elizabeth. God would save the best for last for these faithful, obedient servants. Because they honored God with their actions, words and deeds, God will honor them with the deepest desire of their hearts. In the "natural," this would seem impossible, but with God "all things are possible." As Abraham walked blameless before God and he and his wife Sarah were promised a spiritual son in their elder years, Zechariah and Elizabeth walked blameless before God and were promised a spiritual son in their elder years. God's ways don't change!

Elizabeth means "oath (covenant) of God." Elizabeth who is in covenant with God will birth the son who will be the forerunner of Jesus, God's own Son. A forerunner is one who comes in advance to a place where the rest are to follow. John the Baptist is the seed of man birthed through an older woman, but Jesus is the Seed of God birthed through a young, virgin woman. Through God's supernatural power, love and grace, Elizabeth will give birth to a prophet-priest who will speak God's Word that had been silent for 400 years. John the Baptist who was of the tribe of Levi and a prophet was birthed through the older (covenant). John would point to the Savior of the world Jesus, just as the Older Testament points to Jesus.

At a time when only men and boys were schooled in scripture, the Angel Gabriel came to two women--Elizabeth and Mary--to reveal the birth of God's own Son. First God spoke His Word of promise to Zechariah, but God silenced Zechariah because of his unbelief. God could not let Zechariah's doubt abort His plan through his son John the Baptist and ultimately through His own Son Jesus. Because God silenced Zechariah, he would have to communicate the good news of a son to Elizabeth through the written word. Thankfully, God also wrote His Word down for all of humanity so Jesus could be birthed through us by submitting to God's Word and Will as Elizabeth and Mary did.

Only women can birth life. No two women of the Bible had a greater supernatural and Divine connection than Elizabeth and Mary. They were a perfect example of order and agreement. The order of God's Kingdom was birthed through their bond, obedience and willingness to submit to God's Word and purpose. Elizabeth and Mary were the only two women who knew the plan of God through their sons. They were aligned with God's order and submitted to His Word and will. God would accomplish His plan of redemption through these two Jewish women.

Elizabeth would birth her son (destiny) John the Baptist first, just as God wrote the Law and the Prophets first whom John represents. The Law and the Prophets pointed to Christ as John the Baptist pointed to Christ as the Savior of the world. Mary, the younger one, would spend three months with Elizabeth before her Son (destiny) would be birthed. There was no jealousy between Elizabeth and Mary. They knew their purpose in God's plan. The Older Testament and Law also had its purpose. It was God's way of painting a picture of Jesus, who is all truth. Elizabeth's son, John the Baptist, was sent by God to preach repentance and baptism in preparation to receive and know Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son. The Law and the Prophets showed us our sin and our need for a Savior.

God sent His angel Gabriel to speak God's Word of purpose into the lives of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph. Gabriel spoke God's plan to Zechariah because he was the spiritual head of his household and would be a part of God's plan in bringing forth John the Baptist. But Gabriel spoke directly to Mary because no man would have anything to do with the birth of her son who would be the Son of God, not man. Both Elizabeth and Mary received God's Word by faith and birthed it bringing it to fruition through the power of the Holy Spirit. These two Jewish women came together in their God-given destinies without ego, envy or jealousy. The elder Elizabeth would affirm God's Word to Mary, just as the Older Testament affirms God's Word about Jesus. Each testament has its purpose and doesn't contradict or conflict. Can two walk together except they agree? Amos 3:3 The two testaments have to agree or they could not walk side by side.

Elizabeth gave glory to God for her pregnancy. "The Lord has done this for me. In these days He has shown His favor and taken away my disgrace among the people." Lk. 1:25 Elizabeth knew that the "new birth" coming from her body came from the Lord's favor. Mary was also favored of the Lord! Gabriel said to Mary, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."Lk. 1:28 Gabriel tells Mary that she will give birth to a Son also, but her son will be the Son of the Most High God and His Kingdom will never end (eternal). Mary questions how this could be since she is still a virgin. Gabriel tells Mary that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her similar to how the Spirit of God hovered over the darkness and chaos in Genesis 1 ready to make a new creation. God by the power of the Holy Spirit will implant the Word of God in the womb of this virgin, young woman. Mary's response was, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said," v38 Mary belonged to the Lord. She was His servant. She received the Word, believed it and lined up with it asking the Lord to perform it as it was spoken.

Gabriel also tells Mary that her cousin Elizabeth will also have a son in her old age. Excited about the news of Elizabeth's pregnancy, Mary goes to Judea to see Elizabeth and rejoice in the good news. When Elizabeth heard the voice of Mary, her baby leaped for joy in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth's baby had the Holy Spirit in his mother's womb. Gabriel had told Zechariah that their son would be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 1:15 John the Baptist and Jesus were both full of the Holy Spirit even in their mother''s womb. They were connected Holy Spirit to Holy Spirit. This is a connection that cannot be broken. The Law and the Prophets who were forerunners to Jesus--as John the Baptist was-- were written by the power of the Holy Spirit through man. The two testaments are connected Holy Spirit to Holy Spirit.

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth began to prophesy. "Blessed are you among women, and blessed the child you will bear! But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me! As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." 1:41-45 The Holy Spirit affirmed Gabriel's message from God to Mary through Elizabeth. Mary didn't have to tell Elizabeth about the child in her womb. The Holy Spirit did it for her. Mary believed that the Lord would perform His Word sent by His messenger Gabriel. Jesus, the Anointed Word, would enter her body and take on form and flesh until He was birthed in the flesh through her. Mary was just a young, teenage girl who loved God. God had searched the earth for a heart and womb that was His and would be obedient to His Word and carry His Son into the world. Mary was a virgin so her womb was still sealed! Mary was the chosen one! Mary's womb was never touched by the flesh of man.

Therefore, she was prepared to birth the Body of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary knew that there would be a price to pay to carry out God's purpose. Mary was willing to suffer scorn and her reputation to carry out God's purpose for her life. In other words, Mary made herself of no reputation and was willing to pay the price of being judged and her reputation ruined in order to carry out God's purpose. Both Elizabeth and Mary would suffer as they watched their sons be put to death in horrible ways. These two women were fused together through love of God and each other and in the pain and suffering of child birth in order to give birth to God's plan. Those who love Jesus are to let the Holy Spirit overshadow us so we become pregnant with the Anointed Word and birth His Body on earth.

Elizabeth was from the priestly tribe and Mary from the kingly tribe. As Jesus was both a High Priest and King, those who love and follow Him are priests and kings. These two roles were divided in the Older Testament because of the sin and rebellion of God's people, but the two came together again in Jesus and His followers.

Like mother, like son. Elizabeth revealed Jesus as the Lord in the womb of Mary as her son John would reveal Jesus in the flesh as the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (Savior).

Elizabeth's prophesy over Mary about the Lord's favor and the new birth brought a song of praise and joy out of Mary. Mary sang of the virtues of God. God had used Mary's humility, innocence, faith and obedience to Him to bring the Messiah and Redeemer into the world in fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. Mary called God her Savior for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. vv47-48. Mary saw herself as a humble servant of the Lord. She recognized God's holiness and might next to her weakness and lack. She gave all glory, honor and praise to God.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months. These two women knew what God was doing miraculously. No doubt the two women were supporting and encouraging one another as they were carrying out God's plan through their two sons. Right after Mary left, John the Baptist was born.

Some wanted Elizabeth to name the son after her husband Zechariah, but in obedience to God's Word she said his name would be John. Zechariah who still could not speak wrote on a tablet, "His name is John." v63 The husband and wife were in agreement and obedience to God's Word. As soon as Zechariah obeyed God's instruction on the naming of his son, his voice returned. The first thing Zechariah did was sing a prophetic song of praise and rejoicing to God for coming to redeem His people, to show mercy to the fathers, remember His covenant with Abraham and to rescue them from the hand of their enemies and enable them to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness. Then Zechariah sang about his son John being a prophet of God who will prepare the way of the Lord, to give God's people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sin and to guide their feet into the path of peace. John called people to confession and repentance and then pointed them to Jesus for salvation and forgiveness of sin.

Mary carried the prophetic Word in her until He was birthed. She was the carrier of the Word and glory of God -- Jesus. Christians are also to be the carriers of the Word and glory of God until He is birthed in us. And we, with unveiled faces, all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18 Elizabeth carried the son who would prepare the way for the Lord Jesus Christ. The Law and the Prophets like John the Baptist prepared the way for His first coming. Christ's Bride is to prepare the way for His Second Coming. God is looking for those who will say "yes" to His Word and Will, and do it.

Revelation 12:1-2: A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun (glory and light), with the moon (light of darkness) under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She is pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. The Bride of Christ clothed in glory and light with Satan under her feet and the crown of Divine Government on her head is laboring and suffering to birth and carry Jesus into the world to defeat the devil who wants to devour anyone she brings to Jesus and abort God's plan for their lives. But God is with her as He was with Elizabeth and Mary. The devil cannot defeat God's faithful ones and God's plan.

Jesus was born in a humble, lowly manger in an animal trough in the town of Bethlehem -- House of Bread. The King of glory who is perfect wisdom gave up His glory to come as a baby and grow in wisdom and then to die in order to save humanity. Lowly shepherds who were considered unclean and lowly to the world were the first to come to Him. The Son of the Most High God came as a little baby to save the lowest of the low -- sinners.

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