Scriptures, Part 1  – Simeon and Anna

22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”[a]), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

25 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. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 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,


Just a “Law” is mentioned in three consecutive verses (22, 23, 24), so Spirit is mentioned in three consecutive verses (25, 26, 27).

Simeon

He has looked forward to the coming of the Messiah to restore Israel to favor with God (“the consolation of Israel”, v. 25).

There have been many amazing instances of faithfulness heretofore in Luke – Mary’s faithfulness; Zechariah’s faithfulness (the first thing the man says after months of muteness is a prayer!); the shepherds’ faithfulness.  

Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. (v26). Luke wants our lives to be guided by the Holy Spirit as well. Simeon’s words in vv. 29-32 are known as the Nunc Dimittis, from the first words in Latin.   “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace. 

He is also often thought to be elderly, as we are told that he waited so long for the arrival of the Messiah. Augustine, while preaching in Carthage in North Africa in the early fifth century, referred to Simeon as “aged” and “long-lived,” Furthermore, together with Simeon we are introduced to Anna, a woman we are told is eighty-four years old.

We are told by Luke that he was a “righteous and devout man.” He is considered to be a priest since he took the baby in his arms in the temple.  His name means “one who hears.”

The word “devout” implies that he was cautious or extremely careful, referring to the religious laws and duties. Simeon may have been one of what were called the Hasidim, those who were conservative, strict in their worship, and who kept all the religious law. Their reason for living in this way was that their entire existence was devoted to one thing: looking for, as it says of Simeon in Luke’s gospel, the “consolation of Israel,” a phrase used to signify the coming of the Messiah of the Jewish people.

Therefore, his whole life was one of waiting. Simeon’s one purpose and focus was on the coming of the Jewish Savior. 

Obviously, he must have been driven by this intensity of purpose. How could he have lived in the present, when he lived for one future event? As his life was slipping from him, approaching its end, we can almost feel the burden of living with the restlessness of unfulfilled expectation.

Anna

She was one who had known deep sorrow, widowed after only seven years of marriage, and remaining single for the rest of her life, now being eighty-four years old.

Anna was an old prophet of the tribe of Asher. She had lived a long time as a widow after the death of her husband. As a prophet, her special gift was to see into the future.

Anna is the New Testament’s only named female prophetess. Luke gives her father’s name,  Phanuel, but not her husband’s. He mentions her tribe, Asher. As such, she numbers among the few.

New Testament characters with tribal listings include Jesus, of the house and lineage of David and the tribe of Judah (Luke 2:4; Matthew 1:16), Saul of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5) and Barnabas, a Levite (Acts 4:36).

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