Summary: Simeon was prepared to meet God - are you?
Christmas Characters #3 – Simeon - 9th December 2007 am
The birth of the Messiah was an event that had been anticipated for hundreds of years as it was foretold through the prophets and in the Scriptures. God had promised a Saviour, and He gave that Saviour in a most magnificent way, but so many people missed it. The reason they missed it was because they were not listening and they were not looking.
The Scriptures tell us though that after the days of Mary’s purification, when Jesus was about 40 days old his parents took Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice to God as was prescribed in the Law. When they arrived at the temple, they met a man who was awaiting their arrival; a man who had been listening.
The man’s name was Simeon, and verse 25 says that this man was a just and devout man who waited for the consolation of Israel. We are told that the Holy Spirit was upon him as well. To say that he was just and devout is to say that he was holy: a morally upright man who was fully consecrated to God. He was a religious man, and it was his hope to see the Saviour, the comfort of Israel.
It has been said shepherds in the fields were taught by angels but the prophet Simeon in the Temple was taught by the Holy Spirit. Simeon is not a person we tend to think of as part of the Christmas story, but he could have seen the Lord even before the Wise Men came. Simeon’s life is marked by devotion to the Word of God and faithfulness to the promises of God.
So who is he? Some scholars have suggested that Simeon was the son of the famous rabbi Hillel and the father of Paul’s tutor Gamaliel. This Simeon became president of the Sanhedrin in AD 13. The Mishna, however, which tells of the great rabbis and their achievements, ignores Simeon – maybe it was because of his belief in Christ.
In any case he was looking forward to the “consolation of Israel.” This phrase was used among the Jews as a formula of blessing. There are four encouraging truths to be drawn from Simeon’s life. May each of these truths encourage your walk with the Lord.
I. Simeon Allowed Himself to be controlled by the Holy Spirit – Verses 25-27a
The name Simeon’s name means “hearing” the Bible says that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). This suggests that Simeon spend much of his time pouring over the Scripture.
The Old Testament Jew revered the Scripture: nevertheless, the Old Testament was full of unattainable precepts, unfulfilled promises, and unexplained procedures. In Romans 7 Paul explains his inability to keep the Law. To what purpose were all of the endless sacrifices? What about the multitude of prophecies that remained unfulfilled?
Old Simeon understood that these seeming deficiencies could be resolved only in the person of Christ (Daniel 9:24-26). Christ was the answer; Christ was the one who filled in all the blanks. The Spirit of God made it clear to Simeon that he would see Him when He came. We can only imagine how eagerly he scanned the faces of young and old after that.
Simeon was led by the Spirit of God, taught by the Word of God, obedient to the will of God and therefore he was privileged to see the Salvation of God. He is proof that a life led by the Holy Spirit will be righteous and devout. It is a life that always looks for the Lord in every circumstance.
Likewise, Simeon teaches us that when we allow the Holy Spirit to control our life, God will reveal Himself to us. For example, verse 26 tells us Simeon knew he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Jesus confirmed these truths as well to us in John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him.
He wasn’t some old weirdo who spent all his days wandering around the temple hoping to meet the Saviour. He was a man who had studied the Scriptures that told when the Saviour would be born, the same Scriptures that the wise men used to know when He would be born, and then, led by the Spirit of God according to verse 27 he waited at the temple for what he knew would occur: the Saviour’s parents would bring Him there to offer Him to the Lord.
He wasn’t there because he had special revelation that no one else had – he was there to see the Saviour because he had paid attention to what so many others had not taken the time to see. He was there because he listened to the voice that so many others had allowed to be drowned out by the hustle and bustle of life.