My parents raised me in the faith of the Patriarchs; we did our best to follow God and his commandments. The words of the Psalmist were in my heart, words like:
Make me to know your ways O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long. (Psalms 24:4-5 ESV)
“I have tried to live by these words and they give me great comfort. My cousin and dear friend, Elizabeth, is married to a priest, Zechariah. Unexplained things have happened to them. Zechariah had some kind of experience while performing his priestly duties and ever since then, he cannot speak. Though they are beyond childbearing age in years, Elizabeth is with child.”
“I cannot explain the emotion that washed over me when I heard this. I thought of our ancestor Sarah. I thought of the stories about Samuel’s mother, Hannah, and it gave me great comfort. You see, we live in terrible times. The history of our people is both glorious and horrifying. God was so near to our ancestors; he blessed and saved them time and time again. Yet they repeatedly rejected him even though he had promised the Messiah would come from Abraham, through the lineage of David. In the end, God could no longer tolerate their wickedness and he destroyed the kingdom. Now, almost 500 years later we are under Roman rule.”
“Now, we are oppressed by our own leaders, who are almost as wicked as the Romans, and it puts fear in my heart to even think it. I overhear my father and his friends talking. Herod is an impostor, yet there is at least some semblance of righteousness in our worship. The Romans saturate their lives with debauchery; they throw their babies out in the street to die. Yet they even light up their cities in celebration of their wickedness. We live in fear of provoking their wrath, yet our people are hotheaded. I shudder at the thought that the Romans will have an excuse to massacre us.”
“I am engaged to be married to Joseph, a carpenter. I know he is a good man, and he will take good care of me, but down deep in my heart I wonder about bringing children into this wicked world.” Mary’s voice raises as she laments, “What would become of them? How could we protect them?”
She places her hands over her stomach, instinctively, and looks down and smiles. “You see, an unbelievable thing has happened to me too! An angel from God came to me and told me that I would conceive and bear a child, even though I am a virgin and I have known no man. Not Joseph, not anyone. He said that God had found favor with me, and he even told me about my cousin Elizabeth.”
“I was terrified at first, but the angel comforted me and told me not to be afraid, that this great thing is from God. He said my son would be the Son of God and that he would reign over the House of Israel forever. ‘Nothing is impossible with God’, he said.”
“I am God’s servant, how could I question God’s will inn my life?”
“I can’t tell you how, but I am with child by the will of God almighty. The angel of the Lord has promised me that this child is holy, and I am filled with joy that I cannot explain. I am not afraid because God will be with me, and God will be with my son.”
We have studied the stories of 21 Old Testament Women. Now we will turn a new page to hear from ten women from the New Testament. Some women knew Jesus personally; others learned about him from the Apostles themselves. I hope you enjoy their stories.
Mary was an insignificant young Jewess, however she was not insignificant to God. Four hundred years after Malachi urged the people to honor God through faith and obedience, God introduced the world to one who did as he said—Mary. The difference between the Old and New Testaments is the difference between light and dark. A light came into the dark world. The Law was a burden and the hopelessness of sin continued to plague humanity. Luke specifically connected his story to Malachi’s last prophesy about the Messiah, in which he announced that one day the people would be “prepared for the Lord” (Malachi 4:5; Luke 1:13-17). Soon Israel would meet this Savior—Mary’s son—face to face. And Mary would be required to give up her son.