This week of posts on Advent will look at Simeon and Anna, two charming seniors who gathered at the Temple to pray and long for God’s justice and Kingdom because they knew Israel’s condition was not what God planned. No Christmas song I’ve heard is as good as Michael Card’s “Now That I’ve Held Him in My Arms.” I like Simeon so much I asked Eerdmans to put the famous Rembrandt, Song of Simeon, on the cover of A New Vision for Israel.
For Simeon Christmas meant hope for his people (Luke 2:25-35).
Here is what we know about this senior saint of Israel: he was in Jerusalem; he was “righteous and devout” (like Joseph, a tsadiq); he was holding out for the “consolation of Israel”; and the Holy Spirit was on him (and he knew the Messiah would come before he died).
What strikes all of us about Simeon is that the coming of the Messiah to redeem his people is all that mattered to Simeon. Tenacity, courage, stamina, endurance are terms that describe this old man. I imagine him to be grizzly, with his eyes up and darting here and there as he awaited the arrival of the Messiah.
Some folks just give up. Trials that overwhelm, loves that disappoint, faith that doesn’t come about, temptations that undo, relationships that fall apart, families that don’t work right, jobs that don’t fit one’s talents and dreams — these are the sorts of things that shatter our dreams and diminish our hopes.
But not Simeon. He kept going to the Temple, day by day, looking around and up until he knew in his own heart that Messiah had arrived.
What I’m also struck by is that Simeon was hoping for Israel’s consolation — we don’t learn a word about his family, his kids, his friends, or himself. Where would he like to be buried? What awards did he deserve? Simeon’s hope is for Israel and the redemption of Israel.
Simeon’s hope didn’t immobilize him. He is known as “righteous and devout” and that means that he was full of deeds of mercy, he did the Torah as it was taught, and he served the Lord in his community. Hope energizes holiness; it ought not to deflate it.
Jesus learned from someone, probably just in the pages of the Bible, that one ought to keep on praying and not give up or fade (Luke 18), but no one is a better example than this old man in the Temple: Simeon.
Eyes looking up, looking around, thinking “Maybe today will be my day!”
Maranatha! he prayed. Come, Lord Jesus!