Christmas and the Story of Simeon

In these increasingly troubled times, it’s tempting to grow weary in doing good and succumb to doubt. It’s the human condition, and we at POK are not immune. Two-thousand years have come and gone since the First Advent, an event on which history pivots. Yet the world behaves as though it never happened. As for the Second Advent, you can hear the refrain. “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:4) It would be hard to refute this verdict but for Peter’s admonishment: “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (v. 8,9) Amen!

So we labor on, privileged as we are, to make the most of whatever time God gives us to advance His Kingdom. And as we do, and especially at this time of year, I am strangely drawn to the story of Simeon found in Luke’s gospel. We don’t know much about this man, except that he was “righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 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. (Luke 2:25-26)

Whether Simeon was advanced in age, or what family lineage he came from, we do not know. What we do know is that he was looking for and anticipating the imminent appearance of the Messiah, the “consolation of Israel.” But why? What made Simeon think Messiah’s appearing was close at hand? The last message Israel received from God was through Malachi centuries in the past:

Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5,6)

As for the timing of when “Elijah’s” appearing was to occur, nothing was offered. Afterward came four-hundred years of silence.

Why then was Simeon so earnest? We needn’t wonder. The answer was the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit: “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.” What a promise! As for when Simeon first received this divine pledge, it could have been one or fifty years before its fulfilment. What’s relevant is that God was true to His promise. For at the appointed time…

“…[Simeon] came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 

“Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
And the glory of Your people Israel.” (Luke 2:28-32)

I’ve often wondered why God chose Simeon for this great honor and included his story in the canon of Scripture. What was special about him? Why this man? After all, God had already announced Christ’s coming through the angel Gabriel to others, most notably Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph. The Magi too were somehow informed. Why Simeon?

My take is that God wants to impress upon us His delight in revealing Himself to those who diligently seek Him. It’s a lesson for us. Another reason, as God has stated elsewhere: “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7)

In the world today are many who believe the Spirit is similarly telling them that Christ’s second advent is very near. Time will tell if they are hearing accurately. Regardless, I take comfort in Simeon’s story. It’s yet another assurance that God hears our petitions, draws close to those who sincerely seek Him, and that He is true to His promises.

Merry Christmas Everyone!