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.” The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 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. (Luke 2:25-38 NIV)
Simeon and Anna are role-models for the times that we live in. Our situation is not that dissimilar to theirs, they were waiting for the coming saviour, we are waiting for our returning saviour. We are told that the Lord’s return will be like a thief in the night, coming when you are asleep and unprepared, but as believers we are told that this day shouldn’t surprise us. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4)
What does that mean? It means that by walking by the Spirit we will know the season and, to a degree, be prepared – God doesn’t do anything without revealing it to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7), and as such God will prepare a people who are expectant of the Lords return, though we won’t know the hour.
In our watching and waiting for our returning Lord we can learn from Anna and Simeon in how they waited, I have listed below some of their character qualities and gifting.
Righteous and devout (v25)
A future hope of salvation (v25)
Filled with the Spirit *(v25)
Walking in revelation (v26)
Moved by Spirit (v27)
Ability to recognise when God turns up (v28)
A heart of worship (v28, 37)
Filled with blessing for others (v34)
Graced to prophesy **(v34, 36, 38)
Faithful and devoted (v37)
Given to fasting and prayer (v37)
I look at this and (if it is possible) righteously covet these things for my own life. These qualities are hallmarks of believers who have seen something more than this world offers, their future hope keeps them in the midst of changing tides and the currents of life. The current season doesn’t effect their bearing, their eyes are firmly fixed on the goal. They have glimpsed beyond time into the heart of the eternal God to see the hope that is to be had in Him.
We can look at Anna and Simeon and see that they were not polluted by the world around them, they had their eyes firmly fixed on the prize that was to be theirs. This kind of thing doesn’t happen overnight but is the product of a lifetime of decisions made in following the Lord, from the giving of time to listen to the Sprit, to the turning of the head from things you shouldn’t see. Each of our lives are a product of these decisions.
If you are now looking at bad decisions you have made, there is good news. Today you can change. Today decide to follow Him in all your actions, faithfulness is an underrated quality but it is the thing which holds us steady day after day. So my encouragement is, as opportunities come to choose, be faithful to the one who is faithful to you. He will not let you down.
* The Holy Spirit was upon them as the Spirit had not yet been poured out, but as we translate it to our lives we can see the parallel to us being filled with the Spirit.
** Prophecy is a gift that the Lord wants all of us to move in, if you are unsure, take a look at Numbers 11 and the heart of Moses and Paul’s heart in 1 Corinthians 14. It is not only something that we should move in but also eagerly desire. It is not a passive command but something we are commanded to actively go after.