Imagine for just a minute that you’re fifteen years old. I know that’s a real stretch for some of us to think back that far, but try. You have just been told that when you reach your 30th birthday you will receive an inheritance. If you are like most people, with very high expectations, from the time you’re given this news you will be anxiously waiting with very high expectations for that day. When it arrives you’ll celebrate with a big party, a big spending spree, an extravagant vacation, or all these things plus some that I haven’t thought of.
Now consider the case of a guy named Simeon, a man who was born years before the birth of Jesus. Simeon had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would see Israel’s Messiah before he died.
Luke 2:25-26 (HCSB)25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him.26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah.
He wasn’t told when, just that he would see Him. Can you imagine the how excited this must have made Simeon? We don’t know much about Simeon. He may or may not have been a priest. We know he was righteous and devout, a sincere worshiper of God, who almost certainly followed the Law.
Then one day when he was at the temple something amazing happened. He saw a young couple who had come to dedicate their baby. Baby dedications weren’t unusual because parents came to dedicate their children everyday. The Law required that Jewish parents bring their new babies to the temple, to offer a sacrifice and dedicate their child to God.
Leviticus 12:6-7 (HCSB)6 “When her days of purification are complete, whether for a son or daughter, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting a year-old male lamb for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering.7 He will present them before the LORD and make atonement on her behalf; she will be clean from her discharge of blood. This is the law for a woman giving birth, whether to a male or female.
The young couple that Simeon saw that day was Mary and Joseph, who were rejoicing in the birth of their Son, Jesus. It’s pretty clear that the Holy Spirit told Simeon that this was the Messiah, the one he had been waiting with such great expectation all these years.
Luke 2:27-32 (HCSB)27 Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law,28 Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:29 Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, as You promised.30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation.31 You have prepared ⌊it⌋ in the presence of all peoples--32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel.
His expectations were based on God’s word as recorded by the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 7:14 (HCSB)14 Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.
Isaiah 9:1-7 (HCSB)1 Nevertheless, the gloom of the distressed land will not be like that of the former times when He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. But in the future He will bring honor to the Way of the Sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations.2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness.3 You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. ⌊The people⌋ have rejoiced before You as they rejoice at harvest time and as they rejoice when dividing spoils.4 For You have shattered their oppressive yoke and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor, just as ⌊You did⌋ on the day of Midian.5 For the trampling boot of battle and the bloodied garments of war will be burned as fuel for the fire.6 For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.7 The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will accomplish this.
Simeon's expectant hope in the Messiah caused him to live a life of waiting to see Immanuel. Can you imagine how it must of felt for Simeon to daily go to the temple and come home without seeing the Messiah? He went day after day and nothing, but he didn’t give up. God had made him a promise and no matter how long it took he continued to look for the Messiah. He remained faithful to God’s promise. He didn’t give up just because the fulfilment of the promise was a long time coming. He believed God.
Habakkuk 2:3 (HCSB) For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it testifies about the end and will not lie. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late.
Simeon’s faith can encourage you to never forget the promises that the Holy Spirit has spoken into your life. Simeon went to the temple every day looking for the Messiah and every day went home not having seen Him. But he remained faithful to God’s promise to him, that he wouldn’t die until he had seen Him, so he continued to go expecting to see the Messiah any day. That’s the way our faith should operate. We should expect the answer to our prayers, and the fulfillment of God’s promises to happen any day.
God has made you promises too!
2 Peter 1:3-4 (HCSB) His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.4 By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.
He’s promised you eternal life.
John 3:16 (HCSB)16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
He’s promised never leave or forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:3 (HCSB)3 The LORD your God is the One who will cross ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will drive them out. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, as the LORD has said.
He’s promised to meet all of your needs.
Philippians 4:19 (HCSB) And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
He’s promised you eternal security.
John 10:27-30 (HCSB)27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.30 The Father and I are one.”
Are These Promises for You?
These promises are only for those who believe that Jesus was born of a virgin and who believe that He died for their sins, that He was buried and three days later rose from the dead.
If you didn’t believe that then the promises are not for you. But rejoice, God wants them to apply to you; and He has already put the process in place for that to happen. He sent His Son Jesus, the child that Simeon held, to the earth to take the punishment due you for your sin. All you have to do is admit that you are a sinner and acknowledge that you need a savior. Here’s how you do that;
Romans 10:9 (NKJV) that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Pray this prayer in all sincerity. Don’t just say it if you don’t really mean it, because if you do you will just be speaking words. But if you are tired of trying to change things in your own power, and are ready to turn your life over to the One who can change things pray;
“God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However, I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me! Amen!”
This Christmas, remember when you first met Jesus. What was going on in your life? How did you feel after accepting His offer of forgiveness? How has your life changed since that day? Now imagine what it will be like when you finally see Him face to face in heaven.
What are you looking for this Christmas? If you are looking for the Lord you will not be disappointed. Like Simeon you can say “For my eyes have seen Your salvation”. One look into the face of Jesus, and Simeon knew the hope of his life had been fulfilled. One look into the face of our Savior, and we will know the same. The way he waited for the first coming is a model for how we should wait for the Second Coming.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NKJV) 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Revelation 1:7 (NKJV) 7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
# 5 in the Faith at Christmas series
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.