Gracefully Truthful

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Luke 2:25-38

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. 27 Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple. 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 servant 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.

33 His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and told his mother Mary: “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed — 35 and a sword will pierce your own soul—that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and was a widow for eighty-four years. She did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. 38 At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Original Intent

1) What are the three purification ceremonies of the Old Testament? (verse 27)

Jesus was born ‘under the law’ to REDEEM those who were “under the law” (Galatians 4:4-5), therefore, He was subject to following, and perfectly keeping, the Jewish law. 

For Jewish boys, there were three significant ceremonies requiring participation. 

A) Circumcision – Eight days after birth Jewish boys were to be circumcised, which is when his name was officially given and announced. (Genesis 17:12) The angel Gabriel had delivered the message Mary’s baby would be named Jesus, meaning “to save”. (Matthew 1:21) His name signified divine purpose. 

B) Redemption – Every firstborn male, both human and cattle, were sacred, meaning set apart, to God. (Exodus 13:2) This law was intended to remind God’s people that He alone is the Giver and Author of life, and it is for His glory we have life. It also flew in the face of pagan idolatry of the time, which required child sacrifice. This God of Life protected life, sanctifying it, and calling it holy. From God’s perspective, life is worthy of redemption. Redemption of the firstborn (Numbers 18:15-16) came with a price, five shekels, payable to the priests. According to theologian, Leon Morris, “payment couldn’t be paid sooner than 30 days after birth, and it was an interpreted act of buying back from God the baby boy. As the firstborn male was to be called holy and belonging to the Lord.” 

C) Purification – According to Levitical law, when a woman gave birth to a baby boy, she was unclean for 40 days. If the baby was a girl, the mother was unclean for 80 days. Being ceremonially unclean meant the mother could not enter the temple or participate in any religious ceremonies, with the exception of going to the temple for circumcision and redemption for her child. (Leviticus 12:1-5)

The Everyday Application

1) What are the three purification ceremonies of the Old Testament? (verse 27)

Every generation has laws to govern what we do as a people, and the same was true for ancient Israel. God set up His laws with the explicit purpose of turning Israel towards Himself, and allowing them to reflect His glory to the world around them. As in Jesus’ day, we also have rules and customs governing what we do. 

A) Circumcision – We may not call it a purification ceremony, but we still practice optional circumcision. Many have males circumcised because of religious practice or medical reason. 

B) Redemption – Today, we don’t have religious purifications after childbirth. Given the time frame of purification for Mary’s day, it likely was in place for the weeks of post-partum bleeding as the cause for uncleanliness. Today, women often return in full swing to everyday activities after giving birth in a couple of weeks with only a quick 6-week post-partum checkup. We also don’t offer burnt offerings for purification from bleeding; Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for all of our sinful uncleanliness. 

C) Purification – The purification ceremony, or the “buying back of the baby”, is again not something practiced today. However, we either have infant baptism or a baby dedication, the act of giving the child to God, promising to teach and train the child in the way of the Lord, which is quite similar to Hannah giving Samuel back to God. (1 Samuel 1:21-28

The main thing to remember when reading ceremonial laws in Scripture is that God created them on purpose to point people back to Him. When Jesus came to fulfill the law perfectly for us, He summed up the entire law with one command, “Love one another just as I have loved you…” (John 13:34-35) As you read Scriptural laws, be reminded of Christ’s command to every believer, “Love!”.

The Original Intent

2) Who were Simeon and Anna?

Old Testament Jews knew they were the chosen people of God, intentionally set apart to showcase His glory to the world through them. However, they generally thought He would display this glory by giving them supreme power and authority in the world.

Theologian, Barclay, notes, “the Jews felt they would become masters of the known world and lords of ALL nations”. In contrast to the majority of Jewish thought on world power, there was a group of Jews known as the “Quiet in the Land”. (William Barclay

These Jews had no vision of world-wide-dominion, INSTEAD, they believed in quiet prayer and watchfulness until God’s promised Messiah would come. All the days of their lives, they would wait quietly, patiently, and eagerly for the True King. This describes Simeon and Anna. Two different people, both Jews with different walks of life, but one common thread, they knew who their TRUE KING was and waited patiently in peace knowing He alone would send the Rescuer. 

Simeon waited in prayer, worship, humility, and faithful expectation. God had promised him through the Holy Spirit that his life on earth would not end until he’d seen God’s appointed King, Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, Simeon recognized Jesus, even as a baby, to be the Promised One. 

Anna was an aged widow who had spent her life in the temple, never leaving it. She worshipped through fasting and prayer, day and night as she lived out full devotion to God.

We know very little about Anna, or even Simeon. This is the only time they appear in Scripture. What we DO know is remarkable! Both had quiet, reverent hearts, fully devoted to God with UNSHAKABLE HOPE and FAITH.

The Everyday Application

2) Who were Simeon and Anna?

Simeon and Anna were humble servants totally devoted to God the Father as evidenced by their worship, faith, and love for the Father. Simple, tender-hearted, yet BOLD in sharing their FAITH and living it out daily. In the midst of their everyday worship, they were both used by God to bring HIM glory, proclaim His truth to those around them, and prophecy of Christ’s redeeming purposes.

As Christians, our everyday purpose is to bring God glory in all things. (1 Corinthians 10:31) Whether it’s interacting with coworkers, washing dishes, or teaching children, we are called to worship our God, which brings Him glory and honor as the most Holy One, the Lord God Almighty.

Like Simeon and Anna, we should be ready to leverage our everyday habits of worship to spread His message of truth and grace and hope to those around us with boldness and fearless faith. Psalm 57:2 says, “I cry out to God Most High, to the God who fulfills His purpose in me…”.

Jesus calls on us to make baptize and make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:16-20) The Old Testament reminds us the best discipleship happens in our everyday moments “as we go” throughout regular life with hearts ready set on worshipping our God. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19)

Anna has known suffering, anguish, and deep loss as a widow, yet she faithfully declared the goodness of the Lord as she reflected Him in the everyday worship of her heart and life. God uses the simple and the weak (1 Corinthians 1:27), as well as our pain and brokenness for His Glory if we will submit to His ways. (Isaiah 48:10-11)

As you think of the Christmas story, remember Simeon and Anna, and be encouraged to live all of your days with intentional worship, regardless of your status or your circumstance. Choose to make the pattern of your life one of glory and honor to the Lord until the day our earthly life has fulfilled HIS purpose. Step up boldly and declare His redemption!

The Original Intent

3) Why does Simeon’s song seem to carry both resignation and joy?

In obedience to the Holy Spirit, Simeon entered the temple at the exact time Mary, Joseph, and Jesus entered as well. Continuing to be guided by the Holy Spirit, Simeon recognized Jesus as the Messiah, took Him in his arms, and blessed God for faithfully fulfilling His promises.

Simeon’s heart was full of gratitude and thanksgiving before the Father and he poured out his heart in song in what is referred to as Simeon’s song of “Joyful Resignation”, which comes from the Latin words “Nunc Dimittis”, literally meaning “now dismiss”. In humble recognition of God’s absolute sovereignty, Simeon could “joyfully resign” himself to full surrender on God and His faithfulness.

He chose to trust God’s Word over his own doubt, or potentially others’ ridicule, he was joyfully resigned to trusting God alone. With this tender, heart attitude, Simeon yields himself fully to God and His work in Him as he waited to God to fulfill His specific promise to Simeon that he would see the Messiah before he died.

Simeon realized what many Jews of his day missed, that within the Promised Messiah, the hope of redemption for the whole world was carried. God, like every time before and since, was 100% faithful to His promise and before Simeon died, he did indeed see the Messiah, God made into flesh, with his own eyes. Simeon understood that to resign oneself to God resulted in deep joy and peace.

Seeing the fulfillment of God’s promise right before him, Simeon was joyfully and peacefully ready to leave this life and enter into the next! Nunc Dimittis; now dismiss your servant in peace!

The Everyday Application

3) Why does Simeon’s song seem to carry both resignation and joy?

Because of his constant devotion to God, Simeon was accustomed to being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, and he was also practiced in quickly obeying Him. Through his obedience to the Holy Spirit, Simeon prophesized at a specific point in time to bring God glory, even though he didn’t carry the title of prophet. (Luke 2:25)

Simeon prophesized that, because of the promised “child“ many in Israel would be faced with a decision, the most important decision, in fact. Some would reject Him and come to a point of collapse as they faced an eternity separated from God, while others would take Him at His word and would be resurrected into new life. (verse 34)

Simeon lived his life with ready obedience to God and a willingness to follow where the Spirit led. Because of his willing heart, God used Simeon’s life to have significant impact. We are reading his song of God’s faithfulness centuries later! We each have a journey where brokenness, anguish, and pain will play a part of our story, but as we surrender the fullness of our stories to the Author of life, we, like Simeon, can experience peace and joy in that surrender despite our life circumstances.

Simeon sang his song boldly for all to hear because he rested completely in the faithfulness of God and His character. We too have a song of praise to sing no matter the highs and lows of our everyday lives. We have a story to tell to the nations, or whoever we meet in our regular day-to-day moments of real life.

We can TELL others of the faithfulness of the God we know. As followers of Christ, having accepted His purpose for our lives, we share the gospel eagerly to all because He indeed is FAITHFUL to every promise! So sweet is the joyful ANTICIPATION of Christ as returning King as we live out our own JOYFUL RESIGNATION of total surrender to our Lord!

The road may be rough, but oh the JOY given by God is deep, satisfying, and unbeatable. Live with joyful surrender until you can say, “Nunc Dimittis”; now dismiss your servant in peace!

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