Years ago the government of France voted in a 35 hour work week. Boy, wouldn’t that be nice! Do you know the crazy thing? Outrageously, a few years later people were protesting the 35 hour week attempting to push a 32 or 30 hour work week! Now, from our viewpoint across the ocean we think, “Hey dummies, stop complaining! You already have it good with a 35 hour week!” This points out a key principle about humanity: privileges become entitlements, and entitlements are often abused!
Simeon and Anna
Luke 2 gives us no backstory on either character. All we know is they were elderly, righteous laypeople who dedicated their geriatric years to worshiping a praying at the temple! Why had they decided to spend their sunset years like this? Because they steadfastly believed the Old Testament promises of a coming Messiah who would rule, reign, and right all wrongs!
Here’s the scandalous thing about both characters: neither of them most likely lived comfortable lives. Both of them suffered underneath Roman occupation of Israel. Neither of them would ever experience the triumph of the Messiah this side of death. Both of them would take their unfulfilled hope to their graves. God graced them by allowing them to see baby Jesus, yet both of them would die before Jesus grew up, performed miracles, rose from the dead or ushered in his kingdom. Yet, Simeon and Anna give us a gold standard of faith and hope. Hebrews talks about the promises Abraham received from God, many of which were left unfulfilled in his lifetime! However, Abraham believed God’s Word because he knew God’s trustworthy character.
Here’s the million dollar question: If “pre-cross” biblical saints could display an unwavering faith in God’s promises, how much stronger should our faith be “post-cross?” This is where Hebrews takes us. Hebrews 6:19-20 says:
“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizadek.”
Friends, we stand on this side of Calvary, having witnessed the life, the miracles, the righteousness, the death and the resurrection of the long-awaited Messiah! The puzzle of God’s universal plan is nearly finished, lacking only a few critical pieces to be complete! Not only to we have the record of God’s past faithfulness, we also have the witness of both the Old and New Testaments which detail God’s future plans based on a prophetic calendar. We have it better than any believer in any time period of history!
Given our great advantages, shouldn’t it be that our faith should at least match, and most likely exceed that of Simeon and Anna? Unfortunately many Christians instead are schooled by the likes of Simeon and Anna! Why? That’s what’s been haunting me the past couple weeks. I think there are several reasons.
1. They knew their Bibles: Both Simeon and Anna knew exactly who and what they were looking for. How? Because they were students and experts in the Scriptures. The Word anchors storm-beaten Christians, and we should take their example and anchor our faith in the Word.
2. They weren’t attached to the present world: Sometimes I think, “Man, we have it so good here in America! Why do we ever lack faith?” Instead of our creaturely comforts being an advantage, maybe they are a disadvantage! Life was tough for Simeon an Anna, forcing them to find their ONLY hope in God and his promises! Many times we are not forced to depend only on God. Life is good, and it’s easy to get attached to things here.
3. They weren’t numb to the marvelous grace of Jesus Christ: Simeon and Anna lived under the Old Testament law. The purpose of the law was to point to Christ. They felt the tension, the tyranny of sin, the ugliness of the human heart. They knew they needed a Messiah. We know this too, but just like the workers in France, it’s easy to treat a privilege like and entitlement, and then to abuse the entitlement. I Peter 1 helps awaken our numbness to what we have in Jesus. It says:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Although they didn’t know it at the time, THIS was the promise that Simeon and Anna were hoping for! THIS is what they were longing for. We stand on this side of the cross, and these promises are OURS through the precious blood of Christ! This Christmas and into the new year, let’s commit to digging into God’s promises, carefully mining them out of his Word. Let’s anchor ourselves to a hope that is more than a shadow (as it was for Simeon and Anna). It is a reality, and it is the anchor for our souls!