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Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, who was the forerunner of Jesus Christ, endured a long period without children. In their society, this was often seen as a sign of divine disfavor. However, they remained faithful and dedicated to God, serving Him and His people with unwavering commitment. Although barrenness was considered a legitimate reason for divorce, Zechariah chose to stay devoted to his wife. In due time, after testing their faith, God blessed them with a son who would prepare the way for the Messiah. Those who had once scorned Zechariah and Elizabeth now admired them, as the miraculous circumstances surrounding John’s birth bore clear evidence of divine intervention.

Elizabeth, Zechariah’s Wife

Jesus’ mother, Mary, and her foster father, Joseph, were descendants of the royal lineage of King David. In contrast, John the Baptist’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were of the priestly lineage of Aaron. According to Luke 1:5, Elizabeth came from a priestly family. The Jewish historian Josephus notes that Levite priests traditionally married within their tribe to preserve the sanctity of their priesthood. Despite being relatives, Mary and Elizabeth belonged to different tribes of Israel, with intertribal marriages being common among the noble tribes of Judah and Levi.

Righteous Persons

Zechariah and Elizabeth were described as righteous in God’s sight, living blamelessly according to all His commandments and regulations (Lk 1:6). Despite their faithful service, their prayers for a child went unanswered for many years, and Elizabeth was barren and advanced in age. To their contemporaries, this seemed like divine punishment.

From the Priestly Clan of Abijah (Lk 1:5)

God designated David’s lineage as the royal line and Aaron’s lineage as the priestly line. All direct descendants of Aaron were part of the Levitical priesthood. Due to the large number of priestly descendants, King David organized them into twenty-four divisions. Zechariah belonged to the division of Abijah, the eighth of these twenty-four sections (1 Chr 24:10).

Zechariah’s Priestly Duty

During the major pilgrimage festivals – Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles – all priests were required to serve in the Temple of Jerusalem. At other times, each division of priests served two one-week terms annually. Not all priests in a division served simultaneously; instead, a few were chosen by lot, which was considered God’s choice. Many priests never had the opportunity to serve in this capacity. By God’s providence, Zechariah was chosen to offer incense in the Holy Place of the Temple at a significant moment.

Children Born Late to Their Parents

In salvation history, many key figures were born to parents who were advanced in age, seemingly against natural odds. Examples include Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Samson, and Samuel. The Proto-Evangelium of Saint James notes that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was similarly born to her parents, Joachim and Anne, in their old age.

Zechariah’s Muteness

The Old Testament teaches that the Lord can grant or withhold speech (Ex 4:11). God made the Prophet Ezekiel mute as a sign of Israel’s rebellion (Ezek 3:26), but restored his speech when they became receptive (Ezek 24:27; 33:22). Similarly, Zechariah became mute when he doubted the angel’s message but regained his speech upon naming his son John, as instructed by the angel (Lk 1:20).


The childlessness of Zechariah and Elizabeth highlighted the miraculous nature of their son’s birth. Zechariah’s muteness served as divine confirmation of the extraordinary nature of their son, providing evidence to their community.

When we or others face misfortunes, it is crucial not to quickly assume they are divine punishment. True divine retribution is primarily a matter for the afterlife. Despite societal judgment and personal hardships, Zechariah and Elizabeth remained devoted to God. In recognition of their steadfast faith, God blessed them with a son who would herald the coming of the Messiah, thus bringing them honor and recognition.

In times of unanswered prayers, we should emulate Zechariah and Elizabeth’s faith, trusting in God’s perfect timing. Their story reminds us not to hastily judge others and to exercise patience. The conception of a child goes beyond biology; while parents provide the physical body, God gives the soul. Zechariah and Elizabeth’s story underscores God’s control over life’s events and calls us to be grateful for our children and raise them according to divine guidance.

Let us recognize and trust in God’s sovereign control over our lives, embracing His timing and providence. Like Zechariah and Elizabeth, let us remain faithful and patient, even in the face of trials, knowing that God’s plans are always for our ultimate good. May we honor God by nurturing our children in faith and raising them according to His divine will.

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