But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.Luke 1:7(NASB)
Our God is a God of miracles and Luke organised his book so that the miraculous conception and birth of John the Baptist was directly linked with the supernatural conception and birth of His only begotten Son – and we discover they were cousins.
John was the charismatic forerunner of the Lord Jesus, who powerfully proclaimed the arrival of Israel's Messiah-King. He identified Jesus as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, and warned that the kingdom of heaven is near and that Israel must repent of their sin and return to the God of their fathers. John became the prophetic the voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord."
His parents were Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah, who were advanced in years. They had lived their whole, married life with the sadness and disgrace of remaining childless. This elderly lady was barren, and despite their pleadings to the Lord for a son, their prayers remained unanswered and they continued to be a childless couple.
Both Elizabeth and her husband knew that God commanded His people to be fruitful and multiply, but barrenness remained their lot. They were well aware that children are a gift from the Lord, and a productive womb is His reward... and their lack must have been a great sadness to them.
Elizabeth would be well aware of Sarah, the barren wife of Abraham who became the proud mother of Isaac at the age of 90. She would no doubt recall how the childless mother of Samson, was visited by the angel of the Lord and favoured with her miraculous pregnancy, and I am sure that the joyful song of Hannah, the childless woman who conceived Samuel through many tears, fasting, and prayers, would be readily in her heart. Elizabeth knew that God was a God of miracles, and yet she remained childless.
Zechariah and his wife were a godly couple who were both born into the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah faithfully carried out his duties in the Temple of God and it so happened that the day came when he was privileged to be selected to burn incense on the alter of the Lord, on the Day of Atonement. It was on this special occasion that he had his visitation from the angel Gabriel and was told that his prayers for a son had been heard and answered.
Imagine the joy that filled the heart of this godly woman, when her husband informed her that she was to bear a son, and they were to call His name 'John'. What joy must have filled her heart when she was told the words of the angel: "You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice over his birth. He will be great in the sight of the Lord... and be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother's womb."
The God of miracles brought joy and gladness into Elizabeth's heart, for her son would one day turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. He would go as a forerunner before the Messiah, in the spirit and power of Elijah, and turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and return many disobedient sons of Israel back to a living faith. He would be used to instil an attitude of righteousness in the heart of God's people, as he made ready a people prepared for the Lord.
The God of miracles still works with the same power and authority as in those distant days, when Elizabeth's barren womb was touched by the hand of God and became fruitful for His greater glory. May we never doubt the supernatural ability of our great and awesome God, and trust Him in every area of life – so that we too may become spiritually fruitful for His sake and produce fruit – some thirty, some sixty and some a hundred-fold.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the beautiful picture of a woman who trusted You and was rewarded in the autumn days of her life, in the most supernatural way. May I learn to trust You in every eventuality of life, even when I think that my opportunities are well past. Use me, I pray, in Your service, and may I be fruitful all the days of my life. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.