Readings today: Numbers 8-9, Luke 2:22-40
In the passage in Luke 2 we get a snapshot of the lives of two faithful old saints who waited for the Lord to answer their prayers for decades and how God answered their prayers in the most amazing and unexpected fashion.
Simeon (the just and devout)
The bible doesn’t tell us a lot about Simeon. He is only mentioned in Luke where he is described as a man living in Jerusalem, who is “just and devout”. Luke records that God had appeared to him in a dream and made him a promise- the promise that he would not die until he saw the saviour.
So, when the story begins, Simeon has been waiting for his earnest prayers to be answered for some time. We don’t know how long he has been waiting, nor do we know how old he is, but we can assume he was elderly from his prayer that he can now die knowing that God has fulfilled his promise.
I wonder what his friends and family thought of Simeon. As the years rolled by and Simeon continued to wait and hope as others got on with their lives around him, I wonder how many of them wrote him off as a silly old fool. Did they think his prayers were simply wishful thinking?
Yet, Simeon’s faithful prayer vigil is recorded for all time in the gospel of Luke as this faithful Old Testament style believer had his dreams and hopes fulfilled when he first looked into the eyes of the 6 week old baby Jesus.
Anna the Prophetess
Like Simeon, the only details we know about Anna we get from this passage. The commentators seem to be unsure of her age (is she 84, or 84 years widowed!). Regardless it is clear that she is very old and has been waiting and praying earnestly for the saviour for a very long time.
What must Anna have thought decade after decade as Israel’s moral decline continued without hope of a saviour in sight. Surely she must have been discouraged by her unanswered prayers. How many times must she have been tempted to give up on God. How many times must others have looked at her life – so old, so many years alone, so many years prayers unanswered – and thought of her as someone to be pitied.
Then, unexpectedly and in a most miraculous way, God answered Anna’s prayers. Like Simeon, faithful Anna’s name will be remembered in eternity. Forever God’s people will read the story of this long-suffering saint and praise her faithfulness and perseverance – and praise God for answering her prayers.
God – the promise keeper.
God did not forget old Simeon and Anna. God honoured their faithfulness in spectacular fashion – in coming to earth as a baby and letting them welcome him at the temple! He kept his promise to them and He blessed them in ways they could never have imagined
No doubt both Simeon and Anna would have been familiar with the Old Testament Psalms and may have been encouraged to persevere by the words of Psalm 130
5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption
Both of these old saints waited on the Lord, and they were rewarded by experiencing His unfailing love and finding themselves in the front-row seat as his plan for full redemption played out in the birth of Jesus.
Be encouraged in prayer. If you have been earnestly praying for years for God to act in the life of a loved one, or to resolve some long-standing burden, know that God is faithful and answers our prayers.