Lesson 23–God Has Taken Away My Disgrace
Many kids rebel against some of the things they were taught; wanting to assert their independence in ways that conflict with how they were raised. That was my story. It was only because of grace that God loved me back to Him. His light, illuminated my disgrace long enough for me to see it, turn away from it and turn toward Him. And then He took away that disgrace—forever.
When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people” (Luke 1:23-25).
An ancient Jewish woman received much of her sense of self through her family. If she wasn’t married, she was considered unworthy. If she was married but had no children, she was considered disgraced in the eyes of the community. Having children was an outward indication that a woman was favored by God. Being favored by God meant no disgrace was upon her.
Elizabeth was advanced in age. She had likely married young. Thus she had probably spent most of her life as a married woman with no children. People would have talked. She would have known that people were talking—perhaps saying that she wasn’t much of a woman if God hadn’t given her children. Maybe they whispered that God was punishing her. Or what a shame that such a fine woman as Elizabeth had to live in such disgrace.
God though had a plan. His plan was to use Elizabeth for His glory.
Sometimes God lets things move slowly (or not at all) in order to make a point or prove His power. Remember back when the Israelites wanted to leave Egypt? God sent plague after plague to Egypt. After each one, Pharaoh agreed to let the Israelites go. Then God hardened Pharaoh’s heart again. And again. Because God was making a point. And God was making sure the Egyptians then and us folks 4,000 years later saw it. God had a plan. He was at work. And the timing was for His glory.
Imagine being a righteous woman; being part of the most highly respected clan of the Jewish people. Doing everything right, but feeling disgrace because God had not given her what every woman believed back then made her complete: a child.
Elizabeth felt disgrace. But she kept on living a righteous life anyway. She remained faithful to God and obedient to Him. Elizabeth never stopped knowing God’s love despite the disgrace she felt from the people. Then one day, God showed her His favor and took away her disgrace from among the people.
Jesus died to forgive our sins, thus taking away our disgrace. Then, because He stands for us before God, Jesus has also taken away our disgrace from God’s sight.
…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).
God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21, explanation added).
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
We have freedom in Christ because He takes away our sins; not so we can keep right on sinning (although we do) but so that through Jesus we can be made righteous in God’s eyes. God the Father; God the Judge; God the Mighty One sees us through the eyes of Jesus. And Jesus has taken away our disgrace through His blood. This is God’s plan. And it is for His glory.
If Elizabeth were here she would say this was her story. God took away her disgrace from the eyes of her people and she lived the rest of her life, knowing that the Messiah, born from Mary, would remove her disgrace from God’s eyes.
Who are we to God? When we recognize that Jesus has done away with our disgrace forever, we understand how God might see His women of faith. We can respond:
I am like Elizabeth.
For Thought and Discussion
- Did your youth involve rebellion from how you were raised or what you were taught? How did that rebellion affect your faith then or now?
- Do you have something in your past or present life that is a disgrace to you or that you would be ashamed if other people knew? Have you given it up to God for forgiveness? Have you turned away from it? Do you feel that God has taken away your specific, personal disgrace?
- What about your lowly spirit? Do you recognize that there is nothing you could do on your own to earn God’s love? How do you feel knowing that God has taken away humanity’s disgrace and thus allowed you into His eternal presence?
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to us. Jesus, thank you for taking away our eternal disgrace. Thank you for loving us that much. Amen.