The Comfort of His People

comfort

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 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. And he came in 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, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed.

Messiah MASTER TITLE

The prophet of Isaiah foresaw the coming of messiah , more clearly than the rest.  He painted poetic visions of the coming of Messiah who would redeem Israel and restore its fortunes and begin to reign over the nations.   In his poetic visions, Isaiah speaks of a messianic child on three different occasions.

christmas-2014-immanuel

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 ESV

PrinceOfPeace_lg

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end…” Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV

Wolf and lamb

“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:6 ESV

Jesus-and-Child-jesus-7192656-435-576

I am writing today about that child, the child Jesus.   Forty days after his birth, Mary and Joseph take the child to Jerusalem to be presented before the Lord.  This was before their flight to Egypt.  The law, the Torah dictated that the firstborn, both man and beast, was to to presented to the Lord at the temple.  The child is not be sacrificed but redeemed by the sacrifice of a lamb.  If the parents can not afford a lamb, there was a provision made that the offering could be two young pigeons instead, and being of humble estate, this is what Mary and Joseph offered in the temple.   “And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.””  

turtledoves

There were two prophets Two present at the temple when Jesus was presented, Anna and Simeon.  These two prophets were both aging, getting long in years.  They had spent their lives waiting and  longing for Isaiah 40 to come to pass,  “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” Isaiah 40:1 ESV.  They had been waiting for the comfort, the consolation of Israel to appear.   All their lives they’ve been longing for messiah to bring them comfort. Israel has been long suffering, longing for redemption, waiting for liberation.

prophetess-anna

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.   This is all we know of Anna, but it really is quite a lot.   She was married young, was widowed after seven years of marriage, and ever since had lived in the praying and fasting night and day.  She now is eighty-four years old, so she has been in the temple a long, long time, waiting for Messiah.  And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.   When Jesus shows up, Anna tells all who will listen that if you are looking for the comfort of God, it will come through this baby.

simeon with christ

Simeon comes to the temple in the Holy Spirit and declares “that’s the One!”   The prophecy he had received from the Holy Spirit that he would not pass away until he had seen the Messiah of Israel is, at last, being fulfilled.

simeon-en-anna-1-960x250

You can say that Simeon and Anna represent old, faithful Israel ready to move peaceably offstage.   They represent those who had gone through and lived the Old Testament   But now, there’s going to be a seismic shift.  Israel is going to reimagined, re-understood, redefined.   No longer is israel based upon ethnicity, circumcision, and Torah observance.  Israel will be enlarged, defined upon faith, baptism, and obedience to Jesus as messiah.

torah

They represent the old Israel that had been faithful in their observance of the Torah and waited.  They are blessed to see what is coming.  And they will now peaceably move offstage and allow Jesus, the Messiah,  to take center stage.

fallen america

Simeon and Anna are prophets among people for whom suffering had become a way of life.  For six centuries Israel had been subjugated, the city of Jerusalem had been a vassal city for various foreign empires.  They had endured the shame, humiliation, sorrow and suffering that came with that.  Imagine how it would feel if America, land of the free and home of the brave, were all of a sudden overcome and brought under subjugation to some foreign empire, and Washington, DC was just some puppet capital under the command of some foreign superpower.  How would we feel as Americans if we were subjugated by China. Russia, Mexico, Bolivia (who knows what the next world superpower will be?).

savior

How they long for messiah to come and at last comfort their people. Jesus is the one, Simeon and Anna tell everyone who would listen.  God has finally acted to redeem his people from their suffering and shame.   Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.

presenting jesus

“And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 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. And he came in 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, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Luke 2:22-38 ESV

http://bible.com/59/luk.2.22-38.esv

John Lewis

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