Simeon Sees God’s Salvation

   
25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 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. 27 So he came by 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, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: 
       29 “ Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, 
      According to Your word; 
       30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 
       31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 
       32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, 
      And the glory of Your people Israel.” 

33 And Joseph and His mother[h] marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Anna Bears Witness to the Redeemer

   
36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years,[i]who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord,[j] and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

We can see that Jesus birth is saturated with the supernatural. The history of Jesus birth begins and ends with the prophetic. It begins quietly and and leaves us quitely as nothing is mentioned after Jesus is two years old with the visit of the magi and the flight to Egypt and returning to Nazareth Unitl we see Jesus at 12 in the temple in Jerusalem. Then nothing until thirty years later as Jesus begins his ministry. How we would love to know of Jesus life in the intervening years, but God in His wisdom has hidden that from our eyes. But he did reveal that this baby Jesus was the Messiah to Simoen and Anna. Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel, the comforter of Israel, a hope that parallells the hope of national deliverance expressed in the two hymns of Luke chapter one. This deliverance would involve the work of the Messiah. Luke highlights the presence of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of God’s work in Jesus. Simeon identifies God’s salvation as being personified in Jesus. In verse 32 we see the first explicit statement in Luke that includes both Jews and gentiles. Salvation is portrayed as light (1:79). It would be a revelation to gentiles because they would be able to participate in God’s blessing with a fullness that was not revealed in the OT. Jesus is the glory of Israel because through him the nation would see the fulfillment of God’s promises; The nation’s special role in God’s plan would be vindicated.

Vs 35, Mary would suffer much, as if being stuck by a large broad sword, she would bear suffering and pain watching people reject Jesus. “Thoughts… reveled” Jesus is a litmus test for where people stand before God. Jesus will reveal the thoughts of all people as their judge.

We now come to the prophetess Anna. That she was called a prophetess inidcates that she was very close to God. Prophets did not necessarily predict the future. Their main role was to be speak for God, proclaiming His truth. Biblical prophecy is more a forth telling of truth than predicting the future. It is not clear whether eighty-four years was Anna’s age or that it is how long she had been a widow. Anna addressed anyone who would listen to her as did Miriam, Deborah, and Hulda. Phillips daughters are another example of prophetesses in the NT. “redemption in Israel is anohter way of speaking of the consolation of Israel.

We come now to verse 39:

   
39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.

There seems to be a gap of several years between verses 38 and 39 -enough time to find a place to live in Bethlehem, flee to Egypt to escape Herods wrayh, and return to Nazareth when it is safe to do so. As we will see when we pick up in Matthew’s account of the nativity. Which we will get to but first I would like to talk about the Holiday of Thanksgiving. That word holiday is actually a contracted form of the phrase Holy Day which would indicate that a day set aside to give thanks is of a religious significance and that means it is an act of faith based on the recognition that all that we have comes from our Creator. How can we celebrate the blessings that the Creator has bestowed upon us? As a people of faith we need to look to the Bible, the Word of God to find a way to celebrate that brings honor to Him. When we think of Thanksgiving today we think of football, family, food , and maybe someone is assigned the task or honor of saying a prayer, depending on one’s perspective, before the meal. We think of the food, turkey or ham, the everpresent green bean casserole, and the big bowl of cranberryb sauce that is pretty to look at but no one ever actually eats any of it. As I think of gratitutde I am reminded of the Peace Offering that is described in Leviticus 3 –

The Peace Offering

 1 ‘When his offering is a sacrifice of a peace offering, if he offers it of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the LORD. 2 And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of meeting; and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall sprinkle the blood all around on the altar. 3 Then he shall offer from the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire to the LORD. The fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 4 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobeattached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 5 and Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice, which is on the wood that is on the fire, as an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.
6 ‘If his offering as a sacrifice of a peace offering to the LORD is of the flock, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish. 7 If he offers a lamb as his offering, then he shall offer it before the LORD. 8 And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of meeting; and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle its blood all around on the altar. 
9 ‘Then he shall offer from the sacrifice of the peace offering, as an offering made by fire to the LORD, its fat and the whole fat tail which he shall remove close to the backbone. And the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that ison the entrails, 10 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 11 and the priest shall burn them on the altar as food, an offering made by fire to the LORD. 
12 ‘And if his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before the LORD. 13 He shall lay his hand on its head and kill it before the tabernacle of meeting; and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle its blood all around on the altar. 14 Then he shall offer from it his offering, as an offering made by fire to the LORD. The fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that ison the entrails, 15 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 16 and the priest shall burn them on the altar as food, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma; all the fat is the LORD’s. 
17 ‘This shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall eat neither fat nor  Blood.

The Hebrew word for peace means “wholeness, completeness, soundness, health.” When a person has all these they are at peace. The peace offerings were at times of feasting, drinking, talking, singing, and enjoying salvation as a great gift from God. Repentance and reconcilation must come before geniune fellowship with God. Also comes to mind Psalm 100 which is known as a pslam of thanksgiving.

Psalm 100

A Psalm of Thanksgiving.

 1 Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
 2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
         Come before His presence with singing.
 3 Know that the LORD, He is God;
         It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;[a]
         We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 
         
 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
         And into His courts with praise. 
         Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
 5 For the LORD is good;
         His mercy is everlasting, 
         And His truth endures to all generations.

We need to realize that God is our creator and give us all that we have.Some people live life as if they are the creator and that they are the center of their own little world, that kind of thinking leads to greed and possessiveness. If they should lose everything then a loss of all hope occurs. When we understand that God is the source of everything that we have, we want to give to others as God has given to us. If all is lost, we still have God and all he gives us. We should remember God’s goodness and how we can depend upon Him and worship Him with thanksgiving and praise.

This Thanksgiving, as Americans join with family and friends to share a meal and give thanks to God for our many blessings, let us not forget the needs of those less fortunate than us. During times of joy as well as during times of suffering and pain, the Bible instructs us to turn our minds and our hearts towards God in prayer. Join with Christians and Jews around the world in heartfelt prayer for the peace and well-being of Israel, America, and the world.

  • Praise God as we celebrate Thanksgiving and give thanks for the many blessings He has bestowed. “You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you” (Nehemiah 9:6).

  • Pray for Fellowship friends struggling with unemployment. Pray that God will give them strength and perseverance and direct them towards resources that will help them find meaningful work. “Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit”(Psalm 143:7).

  • Pray for elderly Holocaust survivors in the former Soviet Union, who struggle to live on meager pensions. Pray that they will receive the basic necessities they need to survive, as well as love and kindness. “Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness!” (Isaiah 58:10)

  • Pray for Fellowship-supported schools and orphanages in Israel and the former Soviet Union, that they will receive the funding they need to save desperate orphaned and abandoned children from a bleak future. “For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death”(Psalm 72:12-13).

  • Pray for an end to terror, and for the establishment of a true and lasting peace in Israel. “May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels. For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you'” (Psalm 122:7-8).

Ok now lets go to the book of Matthew and look at his account of the Nativity. Matthew’s account is from the perspective of Joseph as Luke’s was from Mary’s perspective. Matthew’s likely got his account of Jesus birth directly from Joseph and Luke probably go his account directly from Mary. Matthew opens the New Testament with the genealogy of Jesus, the Old Testament opens with a genealogy of the creation. One opens with the genealogy of the creation and the other with the genealogy of the creator. There are about 400 years between the two testaments. In that time there were some changes in the culture of the region, there were political and cultural changes, Geographical chances, relgious changes,and changes in language and writing. We will dicuss these further in a different study for now just be aware that there were changes in the 400 years between the two testaments. The emphasis of the gospel of Matthew is that Jesus is the promised Messaih. Matthew was written between 50 and 60 AD. Matthew was adressing a mainly Jewish audience. Matthew quotes the OT more than any of the other NT authors. We pick up in Chapter one again with the genealogy of Jesus:

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

 1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king. 

   David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife[a] of Uriah. 7 Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa.[b] 8 Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. 9Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon,[c] and Amon begot Josiah. 11 Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.
12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. 14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. 15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. 16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. 
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon arefourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.

The coming of the Christ had been anticipated from the early days of human history. God chose one family through which to bring the messiah, that was the family of Abraham, and later on a family within the larger family Abrahamic family, the one of David. Matthew’s genealogy is abriged, that was commonly done in genealogies, without invalidating the line of descent. There are 42 generations in three groups of 14 each and they cover a period of 2,000 years. ( the first group 1,000 years, the second group, 400 years, the third, 600 years.) The mention of women in a Jewish genealogy is rare but Matthew mentions four women, in addition to Mary, in this genealogy. What is interesting is the kind of women they were:

Tamar- who was involved in a scandal with Judah(Gen 38), Rahab, the Caananite harlot of Jericho ( Josh 2) Ruth , who was not an Israelite but a Moabite (Ruth 1:4) and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriahiah, a woman involed with King David is a sin of horendous proportions. Matthew here shows howq God’s grace forgives the darkest of sins and reaches beyond the nation of Israel to the world. He also point out that God can lift the lowest and place them in royal lineage. 

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