Saints before the altar bending, watching long in hope and fear, suddenly the Lord, descending, in His temple shall appear: come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the newborn King! (“Angels From the Realms of Glory”)
After Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary, in obedience to the Law of Moses, took Him to the temple in Jerusalem to dedicate Him to ADONAI.
The temple was filled with priests and scribes, yet none of them took note of the insignificant, humble couple moving among the crowd, nor to the infant they carried in their arms. But God always has a few individuals who live lives of worship and humility, who are sensitive to the wind of His Spirit.
Simeon was a man just and devout, a man full of the Holy Spirit. Simeon had been promised by God that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah, and he had lived for years in daily expectation. The day Jesus was dedicated, Simeon was in the temple by the leading of the Spirit, and when he saw the couple with their Baby, he knew immediately that his promise had been fulfilled. With joy, he took the infant in his arms and blessed Him and prophesied.
Anna was a prophetess—the only woman mentioned explicitly this way in the New Testament. Widowed after only seven years of marriage, she had lived without a human husband almost her entire life, instead living a life devoted to Israel’s husband (Isaiah 54:5, Jeremiah 3:14, Hosea 2:16). She found her life fulfilled through constant worship, fasting, and prayer.
When Anna heard Simeon’s proclamation, she also realized that Messiah had come, and she worshiped and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:38).
God tells us in Scripture that when we seek Him, we will find Him. Simeon and Anna were watching and waiting, humbly believing that God is always faithful to His promises. We are not told how long these two waited to see the answer to their prayers, but they were given that special opportunity because they did not give up hope.
It is the same for us today. Those who are wise still seek Him; and if we believe His words are true, we will find Him, because, as Paul told the men of Athens, “…He is not far from each one of us….” (Acts 17:27). Sometimes He will “show up” in our lives when we least expect it, in ways we wouldn’t have considered. He is eternally creative, the God of mystery and surprise. That is why we can find joy watching and waiting and worshipping.
If you have been discouraged by what seem like delays in His promises or by unrest and wickedness in the world, and you are having difficulty finding joy this holiday season, remember Simeon and Anna. They waited in humility, and trusted until they saw the Promised One. Just as the Lord was faithful to them, He is—and will always be—faithful in your life as well.