They were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.Luke 1:6
Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the baptizer, are described as being a couple with incredible integrity. From the narrative in the gospel of Luke, it appears this is why they were chosen to be the recipients of such a great honor as being the parents of one of the most influential prophets. In fact, Yeshua would go on to describe John as being “the greatest of those born among women,” (Matt. 11:11, Lk. 7:28).
This righteousness, or integrity, was based on their keeping of the commandments. This is what being righteous means: doing what’s right. What’s right in God’s eyes is what he has revealed to us as his torah, his instruction. Those who are faithful in living in accordance with his instruction are considered righteous. This hyper-obedient type of integrity is what Yeshua taught in the Sermon on the Mount.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. … In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven. … So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 5:6, 16, 19-20
This righteousness, or obedience to the commands, is considered a standard of the those who would be participants in the kingdom of God. The apostle John also makes this abundantly clear.
1 John 2:3-4 Now by this we know that we have come to know God: if we keep his commandments. The one who says “I have come to know God” and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person.
1 John 5:2-3 By this we know that we love the children of God: whenever we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God: that we keep his commandments. And his commandments do not weigh us down…
There is no difference between the righteousness of Zechariah and Elizabeth and the righteousness of believers today; righteousness is still based on obedience to God’s torah, his instruction. While their obedience was a hopeful, forward-looking faith toward the coming of God’s Messianic kingdom, our obedience is based on a faith that looks back to the establishment of that kingdom. Yeshua was going to fulfill the prophetic expectation of their day; we are now looking back at the completed picture of how that has been fulfilled.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the ruling leader and completer of the faith.Hebrews 12:1-2
Our common faith with Zechariah and Elizabeth is based on walking in the same integrity and righteousness of obedience that allows all of us to be participants in the kingdom. They are the witnesses that have gone before, we are the witnesses that come behind, continuing the glory of the everlasting kingdom that has been completed and established by Messiah.
If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.