One of my favorite parts of the Christmas Story is that of two people who waited patiently for the Messiah. Simeon and Anna were both New Testament witnesses to the Christ Child. Their stories are as follows (from the NIV, Luke 2):
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, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God…
Luke 2:36–38 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, 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.
Simeon and Anna were the first to see Him in a public place. They were the first witnesses to who He really was. More importantly, they were not afraid to say, to other worshippers in the Temple, who He was.
Simeon and Anna were the last of the Old Testament prophets. Their entire life purpose was to listen for and to God. Also, they shared with the other worshippers what they had heard God say in the temple. They did not sugar-coat the words but spoke clearly and with conviction.
Both of their names point to a strong, long-lasting faith. Simeon means obedient and listening. Anna means gracious, one who gives.
Dr. William Smith in Smith’s Bible Dictionary suggests that she was probably more than a hundred years old when she spoke over Jesus. (If she was married at approximately 14, lived with her husband for 7 years, and had spent 84 years after that in the temple, then she was at least 105 years old.) It is possible that Simeon was also quite old. Tradition has it that he was one of the 72 translators of the Septuagint. If that is truly the case he was over 200 years old at the time of this incident.
So, what is in this story for us. First, Isaiah 40:31 pops into my mind when I think of the words ‘they that wait upon the Lord…’. In all the years they waiting for the Birth neither one gave up on God’s promise and they were rewarded with seeing Him personally. We often wonder when God will finally act on one of His promises or our requests. Simeon and Anna are a great example of waiting and waiting and waiting… Second, a life of prayer is important in seeing God’s work. Although the scripture says Anna had lived, prayed, and fasted in the temple since her husband’s death, it does not mean that we have to live in our churches to experience God. He is everywhere! And finally, we can trust that God will follow through on His promises. God will and can do what He says He will. Our trust and obedience in matters of faith always lead to God’s blessings.
Blessings to you and yours!