Learning from Simeon and Anna
With Christmas coming at us like a speeding freight train, its important for us to slow down think about the incredible 1st coming events related to Jesus’s incarnation. The fact that somehow the Son of God also had to be the Son of Man is directly linked to Jesus’s ability to live a sinless life, die in our place, and raise himself from the grave to put death and the devil in their place.
His humanness is also directly related to his ability to reclaim the earth at the end of the age. In Revelation 5:4 John wept when he found there was no one worthy to open the title deed to the earth. God the father is holy, but what will be needed to reclaim the earth is someone who is 100% God and 100% man. That math doesn’t reconcile in our finite human brains, but somehow Jesus pulled it off and will be found worthy to open the scroll to reclaim the earth!
What does that have to do with Christmas you say? Christ’s first coming is directly linked to the second, and we can learn so much about how the first coming era believers understood their times, and we can apply it to our own time as we anxiously await the return of Jesus. Even though the exact time frame for the arrival of the messiah was given in the last 4 verses of Daniel 9, few were truely looking for him. A few people did the math and surmised the general timeframe when the Messiah should be born.
In Luke 2 we bump into two godly elderly people who were anticipating the arrival of the Messiah and the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. They didn’t understand the mystery of the church or the church age that would separate those two all-important events, but God allowed each of them—faithfully watching—to witness the first anchor of end-times prophecy—the birth of the Messiah!
In Luke 2:25-32 we read about the first such individual, a man named Simeon. In that passage we read, “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.’”
Then a few verses later we learn about a woman named Anna the prophet. In verses 36-38 we read, “There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
These two devout and godly people have their names and story recorded in Scripture for eternity because they were watching for the arrival of the Messiah! How amazing is that?
We also find some other unlikely watchers who show up in the account of Christ’s birth or soon after. Earlier in Luke 2 we find the shepherds out in the field at night (which argues for a springtime birth of Christ, not a December one—but I digress) who saw the veil between the seen and unseen realms thinned as thousands of angels gave the first Christmas concert!
Even some pagan star watchers from the east (probably from Babylon and connected to the wisemen that Daniel oversaw after giving his all-important prophecy in Daniel 9 about the timing of the Messiah’s arrival) showed up about 2 years after Jesus’s birth to worship the “King of the Jews.” We read about them in Matthew chapter 2. Often depicted are 3 wisemen because they brought 3 gifts, but it was probably a massive caravan of wisemen and their camels and a full entourage.
As we anticipate the Christmas season and all that in entails, let’s also anticipate the next amazing event scheduled for believers, the return of Christ to receive the church in the rapture! Simeon and Anna may have their names and stories recorded in Scripture, but you and I have some amazing rewards as well if we are faithfully watching for his return. In 2 Timothy 4:8 we read this from Paul, “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
If you have been looking around and comparing Scripture with the news headlines, you may be longing for his appearing—which may be sooner than most think. Many signs point to our generation as the one that may very well see the events spoken of in Scripture. If so, there are rewards that await you as you long for His appearing as Paul did! Jesus affirmed this when he said in Revelation 22:12, “Look, I am coming *quickly. My reward is with me.”
As we anticipate Christmas, lets also be reminded that we should be awaiting his return!
*note: this is the Greek word ταχύ (tachu) from which we get our word tachometer. It has more to do with quickness of events once set in motion than it does proximity to the original statement. In other words, the Lord will come at a time when world events are revved up—when the birth pains Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24 are in full swing!
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