God acts in ways and times unknown to men until He opens our eyes. Because of this we never know when or where we will encounter another believer. One expects to find tender-hearted people in religious places. However, our generation proves this is not always the case. Satan has penetrated human religion so that believers must be extra vigilant. Form without power is an accepted part of American religion. So, we must remember how Jesus cursed the healthy looking fig tree outside Jerusalem!
Mary and Joseph were people of a small rural village, unaccustomed to Jerusalem. This solemn act, their first born's dedication, originated when God brought Israel out from Egyptian bondage, cf. Exo. 13:2. The ceremony was both public and private. Few, they thought, knew the child's identity. Yet others were waiting for the promised One. God generates anticipation in His people when He is about to act, though they may not know the details of His actions. Faith leaves particulars to God and finds 'consolation' in His faithfulness. This is uniform among God's people generation to generation. So, consider His encouragement and comfort for you.
God's consolation is not remote or vague, cf. Vss. 21-22. Our God formed us in His own image. So, His pledge to Israel, through the centuries, is practical in the best sense. His purpose, initiated through successive promises, addresses the most pressing needs of humanity, our separation from His presence. Sin makes us unlike God, an intolerable condition. The Lord of creation made us to walk with Him, while following our own way separates us from life. Man alone cannot bridge the gap. God must do so, if it is done. He has done so!
The child's name, 'Jesus,' is descriptive, meaning 'Jehovah is savior or salvation.' God gives names as more than tags to designate people or things. This name, with this individual, was above every name. It specified the One upon Whom God set His seal. Words and signs verified it for those willing to see. These indicators, give faith, according to God's wisdom. He does not coerce belief. Those who genuinely do not want to believe are free not to. However, anyone who wants to, finds plentiful reasons for faith in Jesus of Nazareth. God's wisdom gives each person their heart's preference, continued separation from or reconciliation to Him. Jn 3:18, "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." This is great consolation
Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets reveal God's purpose in history, song, and preaching. His covenants with Noah, Abraham, Israel, and David progressively specify His intent for humanity. Mary and Joseph brought this child into the covenant of Israel. Gal 4:4, " when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." God's law kept Israel shut up, until He revealed faith, cf. Gal 3:23. In fact, Rom 11:32, " God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all." Some, under Moses' law, understood that it took more than laws to walk with Him. They saw God's first covenant as part of a truth larger than human religious activities. God's Spirit used it to create anticipation in their hearts. This is one way God is involved with His people. Our Father promises and then fulfills them to those who wait. So, they wait expectantly. God's pledge is always more than man can imagine! The waiting, looking, or anticipation is key to receiving what God promises, then and now.
The acts described in Vss. 23-24 of our text, recognized God's promises. Moses commanded these things. Yet the 'obedience of faith' was more than fulfilling God's demands. This fruit sustained His objective, a people among whom He could abide. Israel was part of those people, but only part. God had many more in mind, generations yet unborn, when He directed this offering for Israel's firstborn. The prophets often spoke of 'the nations.' They told of them coming to the mountain of the house of the Lord, drawn by God's splendor. The Magi were tokens of these, as was the Centurion asking for his servant's healing or the Gentile woman seeking mercy for her possessed daughter. We Gentiles in Christ fulfill it. Then a time yet remains for a large portion of Israel to awaken from slumber to mourn the One they pierced. Jesus is the firstborn of many brethren, born of God's power, dedicated to Him through His Spirit!
An offering reminds the giver that the things of God have a price, cf. Vs 24. Moses directed an amount, according to the person's ability. So, the sacrifice has value to wealthy and ordinary folk alike. Each must present a gift by faith. God is willing to accept such an offering. The more precious God is to you the greater your gift's value to Him. David would not offer to God that which cost him nothing. He knew that though God assesses value differently than men, a worthless gift was no gift at all. A great reward awaits diligent seekers. Faith is the measure of worth before God!
God's Spirit inhabited few people, before the cross of Christ. Simeon and Anna were rare. Scripture never mentions these two before or again, though their names are prominent among the multitude of godly ones hidden in the earth. Our God knows those who are His! Yet the scope of Simeon's words astonished the couple.
Simeon knew the Lord! His life was evidence of their companionship. God's influence permeated the man. Thus, the Spirit could divulge secrets to this alert believer. He apparently saw, in large part, God's objective in the earth. God gives some things to just a few believers. So, according to His agenda God unveils the child's identity to Simeon. This is more than simply knowing secret things. He confirmed the holy couple's faith. And that of ours! God seeks those with a wholly devoted heart to work with Him. Such people are His joy! Let us find ourselves numbered among this select group in the earth today.
Anna is another with a heart for God's redemption. She was sensitive to the Spirit of truth. His presence consumed the woman, turning her widowhood into decades of effective service at God's dwelling place. This longing absorbed her affections, eclipsing every other object. She, very early, subdued her fleshly desires with higher, lasting ones. God alone can fill such a heart! He is tenderly drawn to those who yearn after His presence in this fashion. Jesus' saying about eunuchs tells us, not all can serve this way! Scripture, as a whole, honors this manner of devotion, whatever the gender!
These two godly people exhibit qualities every believer must have, to one degree or another. Such traits were rare, before the cross. However, Jesus' sacrifice disperses power widely among those who flee to Him for refuge. The Spirit of God's Son cultivates the fertile heart. Peter's exhortation challenges us to yield a crop. 2 Pet 1:5, "Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; 6and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; 7and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love." Peter's 'very reason' is God's glorious and excellent promises, granting us 'divine power' to engage ourselves in pursuit of eternal things. This is God's call to those who believe His testimony in Jesus. An increase of Simeon and Anna's godliness is widely available! Those who long for it have access to power in Christ Jesus.
This power generates the glory and excellence of God in our heart. Christ's life is abundant, overflowing through our speech and conduct. So potent is it, one must quench or grieve God's Spirit to interrupt the progress. Still, this will not take the same form in each believer. All trees are trees. All trees do not grow oranges. Simeon and Anna's lives suggest its evidence in good deeds of service, devotion to God's truth which denies the flesh, and sensitivity to eagerly involve ourselves in His work. This broad truth applies to every believer. Our position in society does not matter. God's Spirit enables us, in any circumstance. Then we will speak of His salvation, light, and glory to all, especially those who look for it! God will enlighten us to His promises. That insight will open God's secrets in our hearts. So, whether we are in a place with great or small influence it does not matter. The critical issue is a longing heart! Rom 8:14, " all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."
God's 'consolation of Israel,' encourages and comforts every believer. So, rejoice in His faithfulness, realizing it involves all who come from Abraham's seed, Christ Jesus! God's people need this 'consolation' in the earth. Our enemy uses anything against us, at every opportunity, to again separate us from God. However, hope which saves is strong, not resting in ourselves or anything of this earth.
Our champion came into the earth, securing victory over the enemy of our souls. Therefore, let us take hold of His power by our hands of faith, resisting the liar. God is willing and able, through Jesus, to dwell in all who welcome Him. He is also willing and able, in Christ, to welcome all who come to His presence by that same faith. This is the staggering reality of Jesus' indestructible life. Many holy, righteous ones longed to hear and see the things we possess and talk about. God, by His choice, kept 'the consolation of Israel' for us who believe, that with us they should be made perfect! (Gene Hutchcraft; PO Box 256, Alba, MO. 64830-0256)