Summary: It is startling that so few people anticipated the Advent of God’s Messiah. However, few look for His presence today; and few will be anticipating His return.
MESSIAH WAS PRESENTED, BUT FEW WERE PREPARED
“When the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting 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. And he came in 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, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
“‘Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.’
“And his father and his mother marvelled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’
“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
From the Fall of our first parents, God pointed forward to a promised presentation of His Anointed One. Were the prophecies truly so obscure that no one could understand them? Or had people grow jaded as time passed and the routine of life continued uninterrupted? Were people so caught up in the mundane affairs of life that they were incapable of knowing what God was doing? Looking forward to the return of the Son of God, the Master spoke of life in that day. “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed” [LUKE 17:26-30]. The routine of life continues unimpeded, until God’s timetable is forcibly imposed on mankind.
Life is too demanding—too stressful—to be overly concerned about the things of God. We are busy people—our busyness demonstrating our importance, or so we imagine. We’ll give God whatever time is left over, but that probably won’t be much because we have so many things that must be done. We are no different from those who will be living at the time of the Master’s return (which could be momentarily). And, we are no different from those who were living at the time God’s Son was born of a virgin.
I am always astonished when I consider that the Bible scholars at the time of the Advent of God’s Anointed One—men who had spent their entire lives pouring over the Scriptures, failed to take advantage of their knowledge so that they might worship the Son of God. It is as though they were utterly unaware of what was happening. Oh, they knew that God’s Anointed One was to be born. They knew the time of His birth and even the place of His birth, but their knowledge failed to prepare them for His coming. It is almost as they could not be bothered to interrupt their important schedules.
Is it really any different today? People are aware that Jesus was born. In fact, Christmas has become the major source of income for merchants who depend on their sales during this month of excess to make up for what they have lacked during the remainder of the year. Even in nations that make no pretence of being Christian, Christmas has become a major mercantile event. The Ginza is brightly lit and decorated with stars and Santas and snowmen. However, despite the fact that the season is putatively a celebration of the birth of the Son of God, few people worship Him! People exchange gifts, drink celebratory eggnog, attend parties, go deeply into debt so their children will not be disappointed and so they will not appear to be cheap—yet, they fail to worship the One for whom the day is named.