Saturday, December 26, 2009
Anna the Prophetess
22 Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
29 “ Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation
31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
33 And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.
(Luke 2:22-39, New King James Version)
When Jesus was eight days old, Mary and Joseph took Him to the Temple in Jerusalem to be circumcised. Not only was this the time when Jesus was named, in obedience to the Angel who came to Mary, but two other important people were there as well: Simeon, who had received a vision that he would see the Lord's Christ before he died, and Anna, who served God day and night.
The Spirit of God brought Simeon to the Temple at the same time that Mary and Joseph arrived with Jesus. Holding Jesus in his arms, Simeon blessed God for showing him the salvation of the Jews and Gentiles alike. Turning to Mary, he prophesied that this Child was destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel.
Anna the Prophetess had been a widow for several decades and lived at the Temple; the Bible tells us that she worshiped God with prayer and fasting day and night. She appeared at the temple when Jesus was brought in, and immediately gave thanks to God for Him. God used her to proclaim that this Jesus was the Redeemer, the promised Messiah.
Even though Anna was aged in years, she understood correctly that God still had work for her to do. Because she spent time in prayer and fasting, she was ready, spiritually, to do the work that God had given her when the time arrived.
It is easy for us to develop that "retirement" philosophy in our spiritual life and our work for Christ when we reach the age of retirement from our normal daily work. Retirement is a wonderful thing, but when it comes to our Christian walk and worship of the Lord, there is no retirement. It is true that as our abilities change, the duties we are called upon to do for the Lord often change as well. In reality we are never too old, never too disabled, never too poor or too lowly to work for the Lord.
Most of us are not called to a prominent position in the work of the Lord, but all of us are equipped by God to serve Him in whatever capacity we are able. We worship God in everything we do in our daily lives: doing a good job at work, keeping our house clean, taking meals to the needy, helping young mothers with child care, mowing the lawn or shoveling the snow for our neighbors, praying for others, visiting the sick, sending cards or letters to the sick or grieving, visiting nursing home residents, etc. etc. etc.
When I think of Anna the Prophetess, I realize that all of the excuses I tend to use for not being more involved in the work of the Lord are really not true. Quite simply, serving the Lord is just living each day as a Christian and taking the opportunities that come our way for service to others and for proclaiming Christ to those around us.
May God find you living faithfully today like Anna the Prophetess.
God Bless You,