Simeon Sees God’s Salvation
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. 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. 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, 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
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.” (Luke 2:25-32)
What a promise, that you would see the much prophesied Saviour of Israel, and in fact all of God’s people and creation, before you die….especially when many devout men and women had sort Him over thousands of years but had all died. Imagine the hope, but also the challenge. Really, can this be so, when many more righteous had missed the opportunity? Did I hear right and will I recognise this Saviour? Well perhaps Simeon was more faithful than many of us, but what is clear is that he clearly trusted in what he heard the Spirit of God say despite many years passing.
The key, the Holy Spirit was upon Him. He had also obviously spent the time learning to hear the Lord, and following His leading. Many years of training. Simeon’s patient pursuit of Christ the Saviour had trained his ear to hear, and taught himself how to respond to the Spirit’s leading. Without hesitation he took hold of this baby, and made his prophetic decree.. seemingly unmoved by the fact this Saviour came in the form of a babe, not a powerful king with an army (well that is what one would have normally thought arrival of The King would look like).
The first Christmas is a story of hearing, listening, and them doing something with what you heard. Simeon is one example, hearing the promptings of the Spirit, he finds himself in the right place and meets the Saviour, his Saviour. Shepherds in the field heard the herald of angels in a field, and followed their lead. Of course there is Mary, and Joseph, heeding the angel, and finding the Lord. The wisemen heard the voice of the messenger through a star, and obeyed it, even though it meant journeying so far…with precious gifts.
Elizabeth heard the Spirit as her babe kept in her womb, and she proclaimed the arrival of her Lord..even though He came as an unborn child in her cousin’s womb. And then there is her husband Zacharias who heard the angel Gabriel but could not quite believe what he heard because he was old. By God’s grace he still ended up following through on what he was asked, showing us the mercy of God when He has a plan for our lives.
I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:14-16)
So these people all heard, following that internal voice as they listened to words that came in different forms. The Holy Spirit perhaps warming their hearts to the words of Christ spoken through these different messengers. When you hear these words, and obey, something special happens…He adds you to His story, and you become the heritage of the Lord. For Jesus adds to Him those who hear Him, and so they enter in to eternity with God, and their spirit and soul finds true peace and rest.
Interestingly God revealing Christ as the Shepherd, through the story of the shepherds on a hill overlooking Bethlehem. As was, and still is for some, these shepherds lead their flocks, and the sheep follow him as they know his voice. So true for us the sheep of God. We know the voice of the Shepherd, by the prompting in our spirits, and we follow. To us they are like the beauty and sweet aroma of a rose. The flower catches you attention, it’s aroma draws you in.
While those first interactions seem clear as He ushers us in to His family, they often become more subtle as we mature, so that we have to lean in more to hear, and get to know the Lord more deeply. We also learn that God speaks in so many ways, and goes beyond the inner or audible voice, and His messengers, to sign and wonders, His creation, our other senses, even dreams and visions. Still that aroma will be familiar, the feeling in our heart somehow consistent, no matter what He says.
God so desperately wants us to connect with Him directly, individually relating to Him as each of His children, not through or relying on another. This is the greatest wonder, the God of the universe, wants us to know Him intimately, and He knows us so. He is our loving Father. Yes, He is God and King, but also in Christ our friend and brother. Such relationship on earth have been attacked, and often are not recognisable to heaven, but He desires the true ones with us, because of love.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20)
This is the cry of the heart of God, for each of us to hear the voice of Christ, and to follow Him as our Lord, and King, and closest and loving friend. And together as His followers we are to hear Him our betrothed, intimate partner.
He comes again, and as He prepares for this triumphant event, and He looks for those who hears, and sends out many invitations, so we can join Him at His banquet table. There is an urgency to this now, and one such that we see Him deliberately disrupt structures and patterns that have inhibited us hearing and responding to Him directly, as well as expose and perhaps remove, those who have held us captive, not allowing us closer to Him because of their own vain needs.
At Christmas, despite all its busyness, let us take time to hear His voice, for He is speaking to us all. And for His children these messages are like the fragrance of a rose.
My Lord, open our ears to hear Your voice, and our hearts to listen to what You say. Let us not be betrayed by shame or guilt, or feelings of inadequacy, rather bring a revelation to us that we know that Your desire to commune with us presses past all these emotions and fears, for You long to be with us. Help us to stop running, and to stop and spend time, lots of it, getting to know You. Send us Your Spirit that we may hear. In Jesus name, amen.