Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah 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 Zechariah’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.”Luke 1:21-25
Now we are taken to the action outside the temple with the gathered crowd. The people waiting outside the holy place seem to be more in touch with reality than Zechariah was. The fact that he was a long time in there made them think some think something had happened. It didn’t usually take that long to offer incense. One of the things that must have gone through the crowd was the possibility that he had been slain in the Holy of Holies similar to Uzzah.
Coming out unable to speak and gesticulating to them made them think that something had happened in the “holy of holies”. They assumed something spiritual had happened. They assumed therefore that he had seen a vision. Of course he had seen more than a vision. He had encountered the chief of all the angels and had received a message direct from God concerning what he and Elizabeth had been praying about for years. But because of his unbelief he could not speak until the birth. The normal thing for the priest to do when he emerged from the holy place was to pray for those who were gathered and to pronounce a benediction on them. That is why they were waiting, to gain the blessing of the priest. But this priest emerges unable to speak. I wonder what sort of look was on Zech’s face. Was it shock and awe or was it “unspeakable joy”. We can’t tell just from the text; we didn’t see his face. Not only was he unable to speak but Luke 1:62 infers he was deaf too. But perhaps they used signs and gesticulations because they assumed he was deaf but he was not deaf as well, just dumb and unable to speak. Gabriel certainly gave no indication that he would be deaf too.
Zechariah returns home to his home in the hill country and to Elizabeth. He had only gone down to Jerusalem because it was his turn that week to be on the priestly team. He would not have known that he would be the one to offer the incense before he went. Man, did he have news to tell Elizabeth. BUT HE COULDN”T TELL HER. He had to convey all that happened in sign language and with facial expressions. How frustrating when he had such exciting news to tell her. He will know next time not to discount what God tells him via an angel.
It is interesting that both men related to Elizabeth and Mary have difficulty believing the news. Both stories appear to hinge on that fact. We have to wait for the next chapter in Luke for the crowd to be brought in. However Luke’s crowd consist of angels and shepherds, unlike the more normal crowd awaiting Zechariah. We need to wait until later in the chapter to find Zechariah caught up in the euphoria of it all. But clearly the reaction of the men involved is set against the reaction of the women. Very different though the circumstances of Mary and that of Elizabeth. Elizabeth is married and wanting to be pregnant while Mary is not yet married and pregnancy is the last thing she wants.
We are not told how long there was between Zech going home and Elizabeth getting pregnant. How long did she have to wait with her dumb (possibly deaf) husband before the reality of the prophetic word came to them? The NLT version tells us “soon afterward” but the Greek text just says “some time later”, “after this time”.
Why does Elizabeth hide for 5 months?
- Is it because she waits for the proof of what her husband was saying would happen?
- It doesn’t appear to be because of a traditional or cultural practice because Elizabeth secluded herself. (Some cultures demand the pregnant wife seclude herself)
- Is it because she wants to give this baby the best chance of conception and so takes great care that nothing will happen to her and the baby? She is after all past childbearing time.
- Remember for the first five months people would not notice she was pregnant anyway. Maybe she wasn’t aware she was pregnant in that time. She didn’t have a pregnancy test to take.
- But morning sickness should have given the clue away. Perhaps when one is pregnant because of the Holy Spirit or at the command of God one doesn’t get morning sickness.
- Maybe she spent most of that time in prayer and fasting and spiritual retreat activity.
One would think Elizabeth would be quick to broadcast what she states in verse 25. It would more likely be Mary who would hide herself for five months.
All of the above is conjecture; we just don’t know the reason. Hence your guess is as good as mine.
The best is yet to come.Anon
Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.Anon
When it comes to going after your dream, don’t take no for an answerAnon
If you give up on your dream just because of hard times, you probably weren’t strong enough to handle your dream anyway?Rick Godwin