MARCH 3 2018
AM I A SIMPLE SIMEON OR AN ANXIOUS ANNA?
Now there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Led by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. And when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for Him what was customary under the Law,
Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as You have promised,
You now dismiss Your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
which You have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to Your people Israel.”
The Child’s father and mother were amazed at what was spoken about Him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to His mother Mary:
“Behold, this Child is appointed to cause
the rise and fall of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be spoken against,
so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed—
and a sword will pierce your soul as well.”
The Prophecy of Anna
There was also a prophetess named Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, who was well along in years. She had been married for seven years, and then was a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming forward at that moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the Child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2: 25-39)
I guess this looks more like a sermon than my regular piece, basically because I start with a long Bible passage. Well, why not? There really is nothing wrong with citing the Scriptures.
I call him simple Simeon: simple because he is an uncomplicated man: righteous and devout. That’s the hallmark of a true human being. Wish all people would be so easily categorized.
I love that little scene playing out in the temple court, the place where each day thousands of people come and go, where merchants are busy exchanging Roman coins for special temple money, because the Imperial currency features the image of the hated Roman ruler. And then there are the sellers of animals.
The temple was the hub of the nation of Israel where an untold number of people from everywhere visited, where priests came and went, where intimate scenes, such as described above took place next to animals being slaughtered and rebellious crowds demonstrated with banners and noisy drums. Yes, the temple court was a busy place where stately Pharisees stood out and important scholars strode on their way to give lectures to the hundreds of students studying the Torah, ignoring the hubbub of the plebs.
Herod had financed this temple, trying the win favor with the Jews. At one time some 18,000 artisans had been busy building this most magnificent structure. It simply was huge and even today some remnants are visible, with devout Orthodox Jews reciting their biblical regulations standing in front of that sacred wall.
There, with thousands milling about, two lonely figures were hardly noticed amidst the thronging masses, the bleating of lambs, the loud voices of merchants trying to be heard, some praising the quality of their wares, others claiming to give the best exchange rates.
Back to the Bible which simply states, “Now there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, who was righteous and devout.”
I like that man. I can picture myself in this lonely figure. I can identify with him: righteous and devout, nothing complicated about him: a true man of God.
Simeon was waiting, just as I am waiting. He was waiting for the CONSOLATION of Israel. I am waiting for the final consummation, the fire that will cleanse God’s holy earth.
“Consolation is a curious word. The Greek is Paraklesis. Translating it as CONSOLATION does not sit well with me: it reminds me of being second best, such as receiving a Consolation Prize; it reminds me of being sad and somebody commiserating with me, consoling me.
So I looked it up, and found that there are numerous references to this word. The explanation I prefer is favored by the Greek Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches, where the language is Greek, and therefore they are better able to sense the intrinsic value of the word Paraklesis. It so happens that these churches have a special service devoted to Paraklesis and they have named it: “a service of supplication for the welfare of the living”.
Isn’t that beautiful, “A special prayer-service for the benefit of those who are alive”!
Simeon was a real prophet. He saw in that baby the key to LIFE with capital letters, prophesying that Jesus would bring us LIFE and that to the full.
Are WE alive?
In my experience most people are dead. I pray daily for a friend to become ALIVE, still stubbornly sticking to staid convention. Of course these dead people move around, eat, drink but they never dare to be different, never want to stand out, are always afraid to reveal their true personality, risking their eternal destiny.
Actually this is not surprising because our entire environment entices us not to question, not to dig deeper, not to critically look at what we are doing. TV is not for nothing called “The Boob Tube”. Neil Postman hit it dead-on when he named his book dealing with modern entertainment, “Amusing Ourselves to Death.”
Nevertheless we are created to investigate what’s behind the spirit of our age, almost impossible today because people are mesmerized by the miracles of modern technology.
Matthew 5: 48 tells us how to live. Jesus told us to “be teleios as I am teleios. The Greek teleios does not mean perfect – the common translation: it has its root in ‘telos’ as in ‘telescope’ – see far. It really means to keep ‘the end’ in mind: the coming of the New Creation: that’s how we have to LIVE.
WINE AND LAUGHTER.
It is often downplayed that Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding where he made water into the best – alcoholic – wine possible. No wonder his opponents called Jesus ‘a glutton and a winebibber’, noticing that he really delighted in a good meal, was a true gourmand, loved good food and was a true wine connoisseur as well: lived LIFE to the full. No wonder he scolded those who (Matthew 11: 17), when the pipe was played, did not dance; and when a plaintive song was aired, did not mourn.
Yes, Jesus loved all-round LIFE, a true example for all. Simeon, that righteous and devout man, was waiting for the ‘consolation’ of Israel, for Israel to come and be alive, for us to come and be alive, dance when dance calls for, shed tears when sad things happen. That’s why the Holy Spirit made him use that word.
When Mary and Joseph brought in the child Jesus to do for Him what was customary under the Law, the Spirit directed him toward this young couple and the Christ child. It takes a lot of faith to believe that a tiny baby is the Messiah.
Simeon prophesied that the Child would be highly controversial, would force people everywhere to open up, to reveal their true selves: “so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” Good advice because we usually hide behind platitudes, afraid to show our true selves.
And then there is ANNA. I call her Anxious Anna.
There was also a prophetess named Anna, who never left the temple, but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming forward at that moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the Child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
The Bible passage says it all: day and night, fasting and praying. She was watching what was going on around her all the time, her eyes roaming, her entire being focused on the multiple activities out there.
The prophetess Anna recognized the Messiah when he appeared as a small child. She was so convinced that she simply spread the word to whoever was within earshot: “Hey you people: here’s the long expected Savior”. Nobody listened, of course, another demented old woman.
Why did Jesus come at that particular time?
I can mention a couple of reasons.
1. Nobody, except a few old people were on the lookout.
2. The church had no idea that the TIME was ripe.
3. There were no boundaries thanks to the PAX ROMANA, so the gospel could spread throughout the world.
4. The Jewish religion had become stale, ripe for a renewal, that’s why Jesus always challenged the church leaders.
So how does that compare to today?
There too I could mention a couple of reasons.
1. Nobody, except a few old people are on the lookout.
2. The church has no idea that the TIME is ripe.
3. Thanks to the INTERNET the Gospel can spread throughout the world.
4. The Christian Religion has become stale, ripe for renewal, with the false RAPTURE belief now universal and The Gospel of the Earth totally lost.
5. The entire planet is suffering from exhaustion fatigue.
Simple Simeon was warned by the Holy Spirit.
Today the Holy Spirit is still at work, but she does not whisper particular dates into the ears or hearts of the believer, because, as Matthew 24: 36 tells us, the exact day and the hour of the Lord’s return are unknown. (Matthew 24: 32)
Note the wording: day or hour! But there are definite signs!!
What is known is the general time, not the exact date, but I expect that the decade can be predicted, and I am bold enough to say that the Lord will return within 10 years: there are too many indications of the planet showing a definite expiry date: all the signs are there.
So, who am I? A simple Simeon or an anxious Anna?
Simeon had a special line to the Holy Spirit which gave him peace of mind and made his life a lot easier. But I am more like Anxious Anna, who never left the temple, always fasting and praying, always on the lookout, always on edge.
I do know that the Lord gives me hints all the time by providing me with resources just in time for my next blog. Perhaps that is the Spirit in me, which works only when I am ready to receive it, but it is not a direct, articulated message, which Simeon received, such as “Go to the temple at such a specific time and meet that young couple then and there.”
Anna did not have that direct indication, and neither have I, thus she never left the temple, but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. That’s the sort of thing I do continually, not so much fasting, as well as praying every day for THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM.
It’s not that I am in desperate straits: not by any means. It’s not that life for me is so difficult that I long for deliverance. On the contrary: I have been blessed exceedingly.
What worries me, in general, is the total lack of preparedness for the holocaust to come, for the total destruction that is in store for the entire world, where we, totally integrated in the carbon-based society, will suffer in a superlative way, while the so-called primitive people will manage, somehow.
I associate myself with anxious Anna, who never left the temple, who worshiped night and day, fasting and praying, who gave thanks to God and spoke about the Child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
I too speak about this Child, the Christ, to those who are waiting for the redemption of the entire creation. He is about the come again and will bring with him the perfect planet so that no human, no animal, no tree, no speck of earth will ever suffer again.
Thank you, Anna.
Yes, it was a sermon after all.