Women of the Bible Podcast

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Elizabeth - Week 5: The Final Chapter

Season:  Elizabeth

Erin Davis: Welcome back to the Women of the Bible podcast. This is season one, and we are studying about Elizabeth. Hopefully you’ve heard some other episodes in this season. If you have, you know that Elizabeth’s story is contained in a single chapter of the Bible. I should say, what we know about Elizabeth is contained in a single chapter of the Bible.

We’ll talk more about what we don’t know today. This is session five. In the Bible study it’s called “The Final Chapter.” Even though it is not the final chapter of the Bible study. We’ll explore why that is.

But we are a group of ladies going through this Bible study in the Revive Our Hearts living room. I hope that you are going through this study with some friends, some ladies from your church.

I’m going through it with some friends.

I’m Erin Davis, and I’m joined by some friends. I’m going to let them introduce themselves. I always start a Bible study with a quirky question. If we were at my house, this would be my question. I would have you tell your names. I’ve got to be honest, I do that every week because I forget.

Alejandra Slemin: I see what you are doing.

Erin: It’s week five, and I should know their names. So . . . say your name . . .

Meg Honnold: I’m going to steal that; that’s helpful.

Erin: So I would say, “Say your name, and this week’s question is: I want to know about the best concert you have ever been to.” So go around the virtual living room. Tell us your name and the best concert you’ve ever been to.

Meg: I will go first. I’m Meg. I’m going to be the “cliché” younger gal of the group and say that I went to “One Direction.” It was amazing!

Erin: You’re not cliché. You are the younger!

Meg: So I had to, there was no reason not to. But it really was fantastic. It was super fun. It was all the choreographed dances, all of the hair being tossed, the girls were screaming. My sister and I went, and we did not have voices at the end of the night.

Jaquelle Crowe: My name is Jaquelle, and I wish that I could have gone to a “One Direction” concert. But I live in a place where nobody ever comes. I actually haven’t got to see many concerts. I live in Eastern Canada.

I saw this one concert. It was actually a Newsboys Manifest concert. But it was great.

Erin: I heard Newsboys back in the day.

Jaquelle: I think what was so great was this was the first stop on their tour. They were super disorganized. So they needed people to run their merch tables. So my dad ended up running Manifest, and Manifest offered to bring him cookies. And then I ended up running the Thousand Foot Crutch table. So I got a free t-shirt out of it.

Meg: That one time you were part of a concert. What a great story.

Erin: I actually asked that question because I have ulterior motives, because I have such good concert stories.

I was in Nashville on the night of the 2016 presidential election. I checked into my hotel, and they said, “Are you here for the concert?”

I said, “Who is it?” I wasn’t there for the concert. It was Stevie Nicks. So I said, “Yes, I am.” So I walked myself down to the arena by myself. Bought a ticket to Stevie Nicks, and sat there for hours. I was transported. Then I walked back to my room in downtown Nashville. Then I woke up and the President had been sited. It was a really, really good concert story.

But we’re not here to talk about our favorite concert, though I could if the podcast listener wanted me to. But we’re here to talk about Elizabeth. In this study we use Elizabeth’s life to explore the topic of disappointment. I think disappointment is so universal.

We did some informal polling in prepping to write the study and prepping for this podcast. We heard all kinds of disappointments. We heard from a lot of women who are facing health disappointments. They thought their life would look one way because they assumed they’d be healthy at this point in their life, and they’re not. That’s limiting and disappointing to them.

They thought their children would turn out a certain way, and they haven’t. They thought their career would take a certain trajectory. We heard about a lot of relationship disappointments. They had friendships they thought would go the distance, and they didn’t. Or they had expectations of their current friendships, and those friendships let them down.

That happens to me pretty frequently. I’m the initiator in the friendship. If our friend group is going to get together, it’s because Erin Davis sent a group text. Sometimes I can feel disappointed that the reverse isn’t happening.

So from seemingly big things to seemingly small things, we have pages and pages and pages of women who express, “Yes, I’m in a season of disappointment.”

I so appreciate what Elizabeth has to teach us. We know from the story that she faced the disappointment of infertility. We know she faced the disappointment of a husband who was struck mute. We would call that that he didn’t meet her expectations. She didn’t expect to have a husband who couldn’t talk to her.

Meg: I bet she got a lot of words in.

Erin: I’m sure she did. Then she does have a son, but that son goes off to become John the Baptist. We’ll talk a little bit about that in this session. But the timeline didn’t look like she thought it would look, or the size of her family.

Even though her story is pretty contained. She shows us a lot about the variables of disappointment.

So we are at week five. If we were walking through this Bible study as women from my church, this would be the point where women would avoid eye contact with me because they have quit doing their homework. They did really good at week 2. And they are thinking, I hope she doesn’t ask me about my homework.

So, if that’s you, that’s okay. But, pop quiz. How does Elizabeth’s story end?

Meg: How would I like it to end?

Erin: What do we see in the text? What clue do we see about the ending of Elizabeth’s story?

Jaquelle: She gets a baby.

Erin: Yes, that’s right.

Jaquelle: We know a lot about the baby.

Erin: Yes, we know a lot about the baby. We know he becomes John the Baptist. We know, ultimately, that he’s executed for his faith in Christ. He’s imprisoned. It’s one of my favorite stories in the New Testament . . . where he sends word to Jesus and says, “Are you the one we’ve been waiting for, or should we expect another?”

He had learned about waiting for a Messiah from his mom and dad—Elizabeth and Zechariah.

But there is a lot we don’t know. We don’t know how long Elizabeth lives after John’s birth. We know that she was advanced in years when she had him. Does she get to see the boy grow up? I don’t know. Does she raise him? We don’t know.

When we see him doing things like baptizing Jesus, we don’t know if Elizabeth is in that crowd or not. We don’t know if she faces the blow of losing her husband. Does Zechariah die before her, or does she die before he does? We don’t know if she gets to see Jesus’ ministry ramp up. Jesus is born soon after John is born. So did they grow up together? Did Mary and Elizabeth raise their children together? Were there holy play groups happening? We don’t know.

Meg: I’m sure there were.

Erin: Was she proud or embarrassed of this son that the Scripture describes to us as having some strange ways? There are a lot of things we don’t know. And that’s true of our own lives.

What’s your hopes for Elizabeth? How would you hope the ending of her story went?

Meg: I hope she was there when Jesus began His ministry and came and was baptized. I want to know that she was there. You see her joy when Mary comes to see her for that first time. You can almost hear the women doing the women squealing.

I just picture that same kind of joy through the years. And just getting to watch after the waiting, the continual fulfillment of, “Look what God did. I’m getting watch it all.”

Erin: Do you have any hopes for her story, Jaquelle.

Jaquelle: That is the same. I’m sad that in one sense we don’t get to see how that story went. We just get that one chapter of Elizabeth’s life. It’s hard because we know that she was pretty old.

Erin: It was another thirty years to Christ’s ministry.

Meg: Then she would be very, very old!

Erin: One of my sons had to bring something ancient to school for show ’n tell. He said to his Memee, “I want to bring you to school.” She did and was delighted.

But Elizabeth would have had to have been so old to see the fulfillment of this. Any other hopes for her?

Jaquelle: Just that she was able to continue to see the joy that God put in her life after waiting for so long. Being disappointed for so long and then seeing the fulfillment of her deepest longing, that that joy would have remained with her to the end of her days.

Erin: All we know is found in Luke 1:80. Does anyone want to read that?

Jaquelle: “And the child grew and became strong in spirit. He lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly in Israel.”

Erin: There we go. So it’s not a Hollywood ending because it doesn’t . . . Don’t you hate it when movies end in such a way to just T-up the next movie? You know that they are just trying to get more of my dollars because we’ll go see it. That’s sort-of how Elizabeth’s story ends, seemingly. We know the child grew; he was strong, and he lived in the wilderness. Was she in the wilderness? It feels like we are just T’ed up for the next part of the story, and it can be frustrating.

But . . . this is why the whole counsel of the Lord is so rich, why it is so good for us to know what it says in Genesis and Revelation and everywhere in-between.

In a way we can know the end of Elizabeth’s story because it is the same as the end of our story. While we’d want it to wrapped up in a tidy bow: She had a longing. The Lord met her longing. She saw the Messiah. We don’t get that, but we do know she will get to see the Messiah.

Every day of Elizabeth’s life, He was moving her toward the day He when the Messiah would come. She didn’t know that. She had no way of knowing.

When we open the pages of the New Testament, we’ve just ended a 400-year period of God’s people waiting. That’s a long time!

There’s no way for Elizabeth to know that she’s about to come to the exclamation point at the end of that in the next chapter. As she faced the disappointment of infertility, God was really busy preparing the way for Jesus to come. That is the same thing that He’s doing in all of our disappointments.

Spoiler Alert: Let’s read the end of Elizabeth’s story. It’s in Revelation 22:12. Do you have it for us?

Jaquelle: I do. “Behold I am coming soon bringing my recompense with me to repay each one for what he has done.”

Erin: He’s coming! He’s coming for each of us. There’s that word that we find only once in Scripture, “Maranatha”—come quickly Lord Jesus. 

All of Elizabeth and Zechariah’s life was that word, Maranatha. They knew the Messiah was coming. They were faithful. They were from faithful, Levitical families that were waiting for the Savior. Yes, there was this unfulfilled longing, but there was this, “He’s coming! He’s coming!”

They got to see Him come for the first time as Emanuel, Christ with us. But they will be a part of the moment when you and I and Elizabeth and Mary all get to see Him come for us.

The Bible says He is coming quickly. It doesn’t feel quickly sometimes.

I know I don’t get to tell the Lord what to do ever. But every day I’m like, “Today would be a good day.” There’s still time today for Him to come.

So we share with Elizabeth that watchfulness in hoping for a Savior and waiting for Him. Really, the end of her story and the end of her disappointment isn’t really the baby. It’s the redemption that came when Jesus came the first time and then when He comes for us.

What’s cool about Elizabeth’s story is that we share the happy ending with her. We don’t get to see the happy ending completed. But we do know that Jesus is coming for each of us. And that gives me such great hope in the face of disappointment.

Jaquelle: It really connects us to Elizabeth and these women of the Bible as real people. We are going to experience that with Elizabeth. All of God’s family, we will be united together. All of our longings and disappointments and desires will be fulfilled in, Jesus is coming back. We’re going to see Him and know Him and be with Him.

Erin: There will be this new home for us where there is no crying, there is no pain. We could insert into there, there is no disappointment. If we’re not crying and we’re not worried, then we are not disappointed.

There’s not the sun because Christ Himself is our light. Elizabeth will be there with us. And Elizabeth’s story bleeds into Mary’s. We know that they are relatives from the text. We know that when Mary finds out she’s pregnant, it’s Elizabeth’s home that she goes to hide herself in.

It seems like the ending of both of their stories are these miraculous baby boys. But really, the ending of their stories is being with Jesus for millions and millions and millions and millions and millions of years.

They didn’t know that. They didn’t have what we have, the book of Revelation. They didn’t have text that tells the story. They just had this hope that Jesus was going to keep His promises. I think that’s the final chapter of your disappointment. It’s the final chapter of my disappointment. There’s going to be redemption.

That’s all really high-level thinking. Practically, in your own lives, when you face disappointment, how do you hold on to that happy ending that’s coming.

Meg: I think going to these specific passages. We often say, “Read the Bible.” But go to these passages that talk about the ending that’s coming. Preach the truth to yourselves over and over and over again.

Just tell yourself the truth that a day is coming. These disappointments are short in light of eternity, in light of what’s coming. Jesus is with me every step of the way. Even right now in the middle of my disappointments, I can go to Him. I can express those hurts that I’m feeling. I can express the pain. He is with me, and He can bring me through.

Jaquelle: I think we can talk about gratitude in things like this. Count your blessings, and be grateful. But in the Old Testament, there were so many times that they set up alters of remembrance—when He gave them the Ten Commandments, and when He cleared the Jordon River.

They set up all these stones of remembrance so they could remind themselves in a physical, tangible way that God was faithful. They could go back to that.

So I think that’s what we are really trying to get out to encourage each other. Gratitude is, “Go back to those alters of remembrance.” Where has God been faithful? How have you seen Him come through before? Remember that now.

Erin: I have all these sayings that I say to myself. I not trying to be tweetable or sharable, but I need them for myself. I tell myself often, “It won’t be long now.”

In the span of eternity, it won’t be long now. In the midst of pain and heartbreak and disappointment, it doesn’t feel like it’s been a little while. It feels like this is going to go on forever. But it won’t be long now. He’s coming for me. It won’t be long now.

I remind myself often that He’s done it before, He’ll do it again. He’s rescued me. That’s those alters of remembrance. I put that everywhere. If you were to be in my home, you would see words everywhere. Part of that is because I identify with words stronger than some other things.

I want me and my family, wherever we turn, to be smacked with the truth, because we need it. We have spiritual amnesia all the time. We forget . . . “Oh no, this is going to be the time . . .” So nearly on every wall of our home . . .

When we bought our home and remodeled it, we ripped out all the floors and painted all the walls, we wrote Bible verses everywhere. Before we put new floor down, everywhere before we painted the walls, behind the cabinets before we installed the cabinets . . . We were like, “We’ve got to know that underneath all this stuff is the truth that is going to shore us up.”

I think that woman that is listening, she needs to put it where she can put it. Sometimes I just get a Sharpie and just scrawl it on my arm. I need it that close to me.

There’s a different ending to this story than what I can see right now.

Do you have any examples in your own life of women who come to mind? We’ve talked about different women throughout the podcast. But women whom you can tell that her hope is in something beyond this? That you can tell that she has a grasp of the happy ending that beyond today is ending well? And what her life looks like. Can you describe that woman in your own life?

Jaquelle: I can think of a couple different women in my church. I can think of my grandmothers. Women I’ve seen walk through disappointments, through seasons of life, through pains greater than I have ever dealt with.

I see in them this seed of joy. It’s not happy clappy all the time. But there is this deep, Christ-centered emotion that leads them to worship and to look ahead. These women will even say how much they are looking forward to the day that’s coming.

They are women that are getting closer to the time that they’ll probably pass away. And there’s excitement about that. They are excited to go and be with Jesus.

Erin: That’s because they know the end of the story. If they thought the end of the story was, “I’m going to go in a hole in the ground,” there would be no excitement. Or if they were even unclear about what’s beyond that, there would be such dread and fear.

But because they know the end of the story, they can have joy.

Meg: I think I see that in women that talk about heaven as being a reality. You have people you can talk to about it, and it sounds so far off. It’s the idea that it’s the backdrop to Christianity. Then you have the women that remind you that this is where we’re headed. This is home.

My mom is constantly saying, “I am at my best when walking through something hard because that’s when I press in to the Lord, and that’s when I’m just waiting for heaven.”

I think that’s so great. I want to latch on to that and fight for that in disappointment—look for heaven.

Erin: That’s where disappointments are a gift for us from the Lord. They remind us of our deep need. And they remind us of a future where those things no longer exist. They are not part of our reality. So the aches, the pains, the worries, the fears that we feel right now work like big neon arrows that point heavenward.

If earth was pain free, we wouldn’t long for it.

Jaquelle: It’s hard because we are so present focused. We get so fixated on our present circumstances. In our heads we are like, “Heaven’s coming. We’ll be there one day. It will be great . . . whatever.” But we are called to be eternity focused, eternity-minded.

We are to think about that fact that no . . . heaven IS coming. It IS real. We can’t just say the words. We have to believe that. That really will change how we view our lives.

Erin: So the question that we have, if we just look at the text is, Did Elizabeth get to see her Savior? We don’t know that she got to be there when Mary gave birth. I like to think that she was there. But can’t know that.

But we can know she did. Because when Jesus taught the Beatitudes, He said that the pure in heart will see God.

So we know that Elizabeth did get to see the face of her Savior. And we know that we . . . The Bible says, “Now we seem through a glass dimly, but soon we shall see Him face to face.” Now we will know Him fully, even as we have been fully known.”

That, really, is the only thing that pulls me out of the pit of despair in my own disappointments.

You know what bothers me most about my disappointments? They keep on coming. It’s like a train.

Alejandra: I thought I was done with that! I just got through that!

Erin: Meg and Jaquelle, you are both in your twenties. If I was in my twenties I would have thought, Once I get to, whatever . . . Once I get married or once I get a career or I buy the house, then it won’t feel this way.

I have all the things: I have the husband. I have the kids. I have the house. I have the job. But I’m still facing disappointments. That can make me feel really tired and hopeless, if I’m honest.

The sin ditch that I drive myself into most often is despair. This is too hard! But what pulls me out of that is the hope that I know the end of the story, and I will see God, and He will come for me.

So while the author of Luke leaves it a little bit as a cliff-hanger. The author of Scripture doesn’t.

Jaquelle: He was probably intentional with that.

Erin: But Elizabeth does get to see the Messiah. And our hopes for us are true, and that’s the end of the story. And that’s a good ending.

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About the Teacher

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Women of the Bible