All his life he carried the promise, the promise that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. He was getting very old and sometimes he wondered if he had misunderstood the promise. What if he had been wrong? He had told others about the promise. What if he would be the cause of others’ unbelief because of his misunderstanding? If he were wrong and died before the Messiah came, others may fall away. He surely didn’t want that! He prayed for reassurance.
I know this feeling of thinking you may have missed God about an issue. I know about waiting and waiting and waiting and nothing happening…or so it seems. Andree Seu wrote a wonderful editorial in this week’s World magazine about Living in the Middle. I quote her,
“But what I was thinking is that the slowness of things in nature—and in the supernatural—makes for strange earthly phenomena. Things appear the opposite of their true condition for a while.”
She was talking about how slowly it sometimes takes for little sins to be punished so it looks to us like evil is winning. Conversely, how slowly a good seed sprouts and since it takes time for the plant to come into view we think there is nothing happening. Andree says we live in the middle, between the act and the consequence or reward. We are living in the gestation period–the time of growing. She warns us not to misinterpret the middles. What He has promised will come to pass: for good and for evil.
So Simeon is an old man. His life is being lived in the middle: between the time the promise was made to him and the time of its fulfillment. It’s been a long time, humanly speaking. Luke says Simeon was a devote man and the Holy Spirit was on him. It was an ordinary morning like any other morning, but the Spirit urged Simeon to go to the temple. At that moment, Joseph and Mary were bringing 8-day-old Jesus for his circumcision. When Simeon saw the little family he took baby Jesus up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now your servant can depart in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all people. A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of your people, Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)
Eileen Vincent, a fervent intercessor and expository Bible teacher, said that Simeon’s declaration brought thousands of years of the word into the present that day. He caused the word to be fulfilled by speaking it out so that others could pick up on it. Anna, the prophetess, was there and she began to give thanks for the redeemer and “spoke of him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem”. (Luke 2:38b). Of all who needed Simeon’s words, though, I think Mary was most important. She was a young girl who had just had a baby even though she “knew no man”. (Luke 1:34) She was living in the middle. Along the way, God sent people to encourage Mary: first it was Joseph, then Elizabeth, the shepherds and now, Simeon proclaiming her baby was the Messiah.
After such a long wait, sometimes we will miss the fulfillment of a promise. Only those who are “tuned in” to receive it will see it. I don’t think the priest performing the circumcision thought he was circumcising any special baby, but Simeon knew!
Walking with Him this Wednesday with Ann’s community,