Summary: Has someone put a little "dis" on the front of your grace? Elizabeth knew what that was like. Her freedom was hindered, her past was haunting her, her conditions were less than what they should be, her religion was empty and she her efforts were fruitless
When I was little, if I had something on my face, my mother would often spit on a napkin or her thumb, reach over into my space and wipe the grit, or food, or dirt off of my face. It is a proven fact that a mother’s spit contains the same ingredients found in Formula 409!
When we don’t look right, or have something wrong with our appearance, no one does it better than family members to let you know about it. Have you ever had your brother or sister say of you, “What a disgrace!”
I come from a long line of disgrace: My dad actually went into public with little bits of tissue still stuck to his face from where he cut himself shaving;
My brother was caught with his zipper down while at a public restaurant;
After leaving the store’s restroom, my aunt walked all the way out to her car with toilet paper stuck to the bottom of her shoe; I could share how long that line goes with many of my own examples—you probably could too.
Have there been times when you didn’t look right on the outside and you wished someone would have told you sooner about your disgraceful condition?
Disgrace comes from two root words: dis + grace. ‘Dis’ has become a slang term meaning “to treat someone without respect, to be rude or inconsiderate to” so it means “to criticize” someone.
“Grace” on the other hand means “gift or favor”—very much the opposite of “dis”. So when we put the two together “dis-grace” means to treat others w/o favor or as a gift; to treat them shamefully and w/o approval. “Dis” cancels out the word that comes after it.
When we don’t feel on the inside like we look right on the outside, it may be because someone has put a ‘dis’ on the front of our grace! Has somebody put a little ‘dis’ on your ‘grace’?
The Christmas story came to us in the midst of disgrace. Elizabeth said, “the LORD has done this for me, in these days He has shown His favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
What caused the ‘dis’ to be upon Elizabeth’s grace? Who put the ‘dis’ on her grace, grace-grace, grace-grace?
The ‘Dis’ On Elizabeth’s Grace came from several places:
1) Her country and her people Israel was under Roman authority–the Gentiles had a foothold in the everyday lives of her and her people. When your freedom is hindered there is disgrace.
2) Herod, a descendent of Esau, was her overlord. Esau was the brother who sold his birthright to Jacob, who then became ‘Israel’. Esau’s descendants were the Edomites, and they were enemies of Israel. When the past comes back to haunt you, your hopes are challenged and there is disgrace.
3) The Temple was unfinished. It was still being erected at this time. When there is noise, intrusion, chaos, and when the conditions are less than what they should be, your strength begins to fail and there is disgrace.
4) God had been silent for over 400 years. At the closing of the prophecy of Malachi in the OT, the waiting for Elijah to come to prepare the way for the Messiah had been expected. 400 years of waiting can cause your eyes to be searching the ground instead of the skies. When what you long for is long in coming, your heart grows faint looking and you question your faithfulness and wonder if it is really worth it.
5) Not only was she under Gentile authority, ruled by a descendent of Esau, hindered in her worship, faithfully lived an empty religious life, she also had to bear the reproach of something very personal—being barren (childless).
Every Jewish family clung to the promises of God and their heritage of possibly being the chosen family to bring the Messiah into this world. With the rulers being Gentiles and of Esau, the Temple unfinished and God being silent, all these things would be crossed out if only you had a son to take your family line to the next generation with hopes of the Messiah being found in your lineage.
Just look at Matthew 1 and you will see how the ancestry was so important and such a part of the family heritage. We don’t hold the meaning of what this truly is in our culture. But for the Jews, children were a heritage of the LORD! When your efforts of doing the right thing seem to be fruitless, there is disgrace.
Oh yes, Elizabeth had ‘dis’ on her grace. ‘Dis’ after ‘dis’ after ‘dis’ was smeared again and again and again all across her face. With every remembrance of her infertility, she had gritty ‘dis’ wiped on her face and upon her heart. AND NOW SHE WAS OLD!