Anticipated , Matured and Apprehended

                                                      Luke 2:25-38; 41-52

                                                          January 3, 2021

 

 

 

The revelation of the second coming of Christ is one of the most important and most

frequently mentioned doctrines of the New Testament. One out of every twenty-five

verses in the New Testament refers either to the rapture of the church or to Christ’s

coming to reign over the world.  Bible . org.

 

7957 verses in the New Testament divided by 25  = 318.28 

 

I think I remember 321 times from years past being the number both in

the Old Testament references to the coming of Jesus the first time

and same in the New Testament portraying His Second Coming.

 

The odds at His First Coming was astronomical for all of them to happen

as the Bible predicted.   The same today.  I have heard that the odds are

equivalent to one in if all the earth was drops of water.

 

We have studied about John the Baptist and Jesus Christ in the last two

weeks before Christmas and today I wish to study about two people

who were their contemporaries:  Simeon and Anna.

 

As they were alive at the first coming of Jesus and what was happening in that

world, I would like us to consider the possibility of us being contemporaries

of the Second Coming of Jesus to our world.

 

I would like to compare what the Scripture says of Simeon and Anna

and what can be said of you and me.  

 

The Matured part of the lesson is the relating of how Christ grew up in vs. 41-52.

Whether I can get to all or not remains to be seen. 

 

I am hoping to cut back a little on my time as I have been going longer

than I should.  Hopefully, we will get to what we need to some time,

as we are starting a new year and if God gives us 52 Sundays like He

usually does we should have plenty of time, if we use it wisely, and

under the direction of the Holy Spirit, get the job done!

 

Before this, however, I would like to discuss what we were studying at the

end of class last week about Light!  God, the Father of Lights, and Jesus Christ,

the Light of the world and how we are to shine as lights.

 

 

 

APPREHEND

καταλαμβάνω - katalambano -  properly signifies “to lay hold of”; then, “to

lay hold of so as to possess as one’s own, to appropriate.” Hence it has the same twofold

meaning as the Eng. “to apprehend”; (a), “to seize upon, take possession of,” (1) with a

beneficial effect, as of “laying hold” of the righteousness which is of faith, Rom. 9:30

(not there a matter of attainment, as in the Eng. versions, but of appropriation); of the

obtaining of a prize, 1 Cor. 9:24 (RV, “attain”); of the apostle’s desire “to apprehend,” or

“lay hold of,” that for which he was apprehended by Christ, Phil. 3:12-13; (2) with a

detrimental effect, e.g., of demon power, Mark 9:18; of human action in seizing upon a

person, John 8:3-4; metaphorically, with the added idea of overtaking, of spiritual

darkness in coming upon people, John 12:35; of the Day of the Lord, in suddenly coming

upon unbelievers as a thief, 1 Thess. 5:4; (b), “to lay hold of” with the mind, to

understand, perceive, e.g., metaphorically, of darkness with regard to light, John 1:5,

though possibly here the sense is that of (a) as in 12:35; of mental perception, Acts 4:13;

 

 

 From last week - December 27, 2020 lesson:

 

  • CONSIDER HIS WORKS. He is “the Father of the lights.” What a

            splendid title! and how suggestive of the purity of God! He is Light in His

            own nature, and He is Light in all His relations to the universe. He made the

            starry lights — to which, indeed, the expression seems primarily to refer.

            He is the Author of all intellectual and spiritual illumination — all Urim and

            Thummim, “lights and perfections.” Thus Jesus Christ, as Mediator, is “the         

            Light of the world;” (John 8:12) and, in relation to the absolute God whom

            He reveals,  He is “Light of light.”  We worship, not light, but the Father

            of the lights.” Let us think of some of the lights of which God is the Father.

 

 

ü      SUN-LIGHT. The sun is a great work of God. It is adorned like a

                        “bridegroom;” and it is strong like a “giant to run a race.” (Psalm

                        19:4-6) Our whole world, and many others, get all their light from it.

                        The moon takes the sun’s place during night; but its light is just

                        sunlight second-hand. Star-light, too, is sun-light, for all the

                        twinkling stars are suns. Now, God made all these upper lights.

                        He made also all light and fire which man has on earth. Every coal

                        field is just so much “sown” light. Every lump of coal is full of

                        bottled sunshine. Man may strike a light, but only God is its Father!

 

ü      LIFE-LIGHT. The light of life is a higher kind of light than sunlight,

                        and it also comes from God. We see it:

 

Ø      In plants. What makes a flower so beautiful? It is the light

      of life. The eye of the daisy - the “day’s eye” — is bright

      with this light.

                       

Ø      In animals. Life-light makes the birds sing and the lambs

      gambol, and fills the air with the buzz of insect gladness.

      The lion is the king of beasts so long as he has the light of life,

      but “a living dog is better than a dead lion.” (Ecclesiastes 9:4)

 

Ø      In man. In him this light is of a more precious kind, which shall

      burn on forever. God “hath set the world (eternity) in their

      heart” – Ecclesiastes 3:11) The soul that rises with us, our life’s

      star, shall never set. It shall blaze on alter the great lights of

      heaven shall have been put out.

 

Ø      In angels. Every angel is “a flame of fire.” (Hebrews 1:7) 

      Those who stand before God’s throne are the brightest; they

      are the seraphim, the shining ones. The angels are “the

      morning stars,” and God is their Father.

 

             

ü      TRUTH-LIGHT. This gives us the light of knowledge. Every useful

                        book which tells us truth about nature, or the world, or our own

                        bodies and minds, is a light from God. But the highest and best kind

                        of truth is about God himself, and about the way to Him. We have

                        this truth in the Bible; and so the Bible is a lamp shining in a

                        dark place”  (II Peter 1:19) for it tells of Jesus the Savior, who

                        lived and died and lives again — “the Light of the world,” the dear

                        Son of “the Father of the lights.”

 

 

ü      GRACE-LIGHT. Truth-light is a light outside; but grace-light is one

                        which God kindles within our hearts. Only those persons have the

                        light of grace whose souls are illuminated by God’s Holy Spirit. No                                   

                        sooner does he touch our sin-blinded minds and our sin-darkened

                        hearts than they begin to shine with God’s light. This new soul-light

                        will “shine more and more unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4:18)

                        All the lamps of grace are fed, as well as kindled, by “the

                        Father of the lights

 

ü      HEAVEN-LIGHT. The home of God is full of light. In hell, all is

                        darkness; on earth, there is mingled light and darkness; in heaven,

                        there is only light. “There shall be no night there.” God and the

                        Lamb are “the light thereof.” (Revelation 21:23)  And everything in                                 

                        heaven reflects its light — the jasper walls, the pearly gates, the

                        golden streets, the crystal river, the white robes, Now it is

                        holiness that is the light of heaven. All there is pure. Grace-light, when

                        a good man dies, blazes up into glory-light. And all the holiness of

                        heaven streams from the Holy, Holy, Holy One — “the Father of the                               

                        lights.”

           

            His people, again, are children of light;”     (John 12:36, Ephesians 5:8,, I            

            Thessalonians 5:5) they reflect the luster of the Sun of righteousness. In God

            is no darkness at all;” but sin is darkness, so it cannot proceed from Him.

            He is only “the Father of the lights.”

 

 

Philippians 2:15

 

Matthew 5:22-23

 

 

Light of the world, shine on me,

Love is the answer.

Shine on us all, set us free.

Love is the answer.    Utopia.

 

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.  Elton John

 

I Still haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.  U-2

 

Help - The Beatles

 

 

The Episode of Simeon and His Inspired Hymn (vs. 25-35)

 

25 “And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon;

and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel:

and the Holy Ghost was upon him.”  Many expositors have believed that this

Simeon was identical with Simeon (Shimeon) the son of the famous Hillel, and the

father of Gamaliel. This Simeon became president of the Sanhedrin in A.D. 13.

Strangely enough, the Mishna, which preserves a record of the sayings and works

of the great rabbis, passes by this Simeon. The curious silence of the Mishna here

was, perhaps, owing to the hatred which this famous teacher incurred because

of his belief in JESUS OF NAZARETH.   Such an identification, although

interesting, is, however, very precarious, the name Simeon being so very common

among the people. Waiting for the consolation of Israel. There was a

general feeling among the more earnest Jews at this time that the advent of

Messiah would not be long delayed. Joseph of Arimathaea is especially

mentioned as one who “waited for the kingdom of God (Mark 15:43).

(May it be said of us that we are “waiting for the kingdom of God” – CY –

2012)  Dr. Farrar refers to the common Jewish prayer-formula then in use: “May I

see the consolation of Israel!” A prayer for the advent of Messiah was in

daily use.

 

Manifestly Simeon could go to his last sleep as quietly as to his nightly rest. 

We may commit not only the folded hours of the night to God,

but also the folded hours of eternity

 

What a wonderful blessing for the man, like Simeon, who can say at the end of

life, “I am satisfied!  “Lord, let me depart in peace!”  Simeon knew by

special communication from God — “it was revealed unto him by the Holy

Ghost” (v. 26),  that he should reach a certain point in the coming of the

kingdom of God, that his heart’s deep desire for “the Consolation of

Israel should be granted him. And waiting for this, and attaining it, his

soul was filled with joy and holy satisfaction. It is right for those who are

taking a very earnest interest in the cause of Christ to long to be allowed to

accomplish a certain work for Him. Again and again has the parent thus

striven and prayed and longed to see the conversion of all his (her)

children, or the teacher of his (her) class; the minister of Christ to see the

attainment of some pastoral design; the missionary to win some tribe from

barbarism and idolatry; the translator to render the Word of God into the

native tongue; the national reformer to pass his measure for emancipation,

or temperance, or virtue, or education, or the protection of the lives and

morals of women or children. And this deep desire of the heart has been a

constraining power, which has nerved the hand and energized the life,

which has brought forth the fruit of sacred zeal and unwearied toil. God

has given to these souls the desire of their hearts, and they have gone to

their grave filled with a holy, satisfying peace. So may it be with us. And

yet it may not be so. We may be called upon to quit the field of active labor

before the harvest is gathered in. Others may enter into our labors. If we have the

spirit of Christ in our service, if we go whither we believe He sends us, and

work on in the way which we believe to be according to His will, we may

rest in the calm assurance that the hour of our cessation from holy labor is

the hour of God’s appointment, and a peace as calm as that of Simeon may

fill our soul as we leave a not- unfinished work on earth to enter a nobler

sphere in heaven.

 

30  “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,  31 Which thou hast prepared

before the face of all people (more accurately rendered, all peoples);  32 A light

to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory  of thy people Israel.”  Men like Isaiah,

who lived several centuries before the nativity, with their glorious far reaching

prophecies, such as Isaiah 52:10, were far in advance of the narrow, selfish Jewish

schools of the age of Jesus Christ. It was, perhaps, the hardest lesson the apostles

and first teachers of the faith had to master — this full, free admission of the vast

Gentile world into the kingdom of their God. Simeon, in his song, however, distinctly

repeats the broad, generous sayings of the older prophets.

 

 

                        A Satisfied Human Spirit (vs. 25-30)

 

There are few more exquisite pictures even in Holy Writ than the one

which is here drawn for us. An aged and venerable man, who has lived a

long life of piety and virtue, and who has been cherishing an

ever-brightening hope that before he dies he should look upon the face of

his country’s Savior, directed by the Spirit of God, recognizes in the infant

Jesus that One for whose coming he has so long been hoping and praying.

Taking Him up into his arms, with the light of intense gratitude in his eyes,

and the emotion of deepest happiness in his voice, he exclaims, “Lord, now

lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.… for mine eyes have seen thy

Salvation.” Life has now no ungranted good for him to await. The last and

dearest wish of his heart has been fulfilled; willingly would he now close

his eyes in the sleep of death; gladly would he now lie down to rest in the

quiet of the grave.

 

·   THOSE WHO MUST BE UNSATISFIED IN SPIRIT. There is a vast

multitude of men who seek for satisfaction in the things which are seen and

temporal — in taking pleasure, in making money, in wielding power, in

gaining honor, etc. But they do not find what they seek. It is as true in

London or New York City as it was in Jerusalem, eighteen centuries/now

twenty centuries after Christ as ten centuries before, when Solomon wrote

that “the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing.”

(Ecclesiastes 1:8).  All the rivers of earthly good may run into the great sea of

an immortal spirit, but that sea is not filled. Earthly good is the salt water that

only makes more athirst the soul that drinks it. It is not the very wealthy,

nor the very mighty, nor the very honored man who is ready to say, “I am

satisfied; let me depart in peace.”

 

·   THOSE WHO MAY BE SATISFIED IN SPIRIT. Simeon knew by

special communication from God — “it was revealed unto him by the Holy

Ghost” — that he should reach a certain point in the coining of the

kingdom of God, that his heart’s deep desire for “the Consolation of

Israel should be granted him. And waiting for this, and attaining it, his

soul was filled with joy and holy satisfaction. It is right for those who are

taking a very earnest interest in the cause of Christ to long to be allowed to

accomplish a certain work for Him. Again and again has the parent thus

striven and prayed and longed to see the conversion of all his (her)

children, or the teacher of his (her) class; the minister of Christ to see the

attainment of some pastoral design; the missionary to win some tribe from

barbarism and idolatry; the translator to render the Word of God into the

native tongue; the national reformer to pass his measure for emancipation,

or temperance, or virtue, or education, or the protection of the lives and

morals of women or children. And this deep desire of the heart has been a

constraining power, which has nerved the hand and energized the life,

which has brought forth the fruit of sacred zeal and unwearied toil. God

has given to these souls the desire of their hearts, and they have gone to

their grave filled with a holy, satisfying peace. So may it be with us. And

yet it may not be so. We may be called upon to quit the field of active labor

before the harvest is gathered in. Others may enter into our labors. But if it

should be so, there is a way in which we may belong.

 

·   THOSE WHO CANNOT FAIL TO BE SATISFIED IS SPIRIT. For

we may be of those who realize that it is in God’s hand to fix the bounds of

our present labor, and to determine the measure of the work we shall do on

earth. We may work on diligently and devotedly as those who have much

to do for God and man, yet clearly recognizing that God has for us a

sphere in the spirit — world, and that He may at any hour remove us there,

though we would fain finish what we have in hand below. If we have the

spirit of Christ in our service, if we go whither we believe He sends us, and

work on in the way which we believe to be according to His will. we may

rest in the calm assurance that the hour of our cessation from holy labor is

the hour of God’s appointment, and a peace as calm as that of Simeon may

fill our soul as we leave a not-unfinished work on earth to enter a nobler

sphere in heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

The Touchstone of Truth (vs. 34, 36)

 

We do not suppose that Simeon saw the future course of the Savior and of

His gospel in clear outline; but, taught of God, he foresaw that that little

Child he had been holding in his arms would be One who would prove a

most powerful factor in his country’s history; and he saw that relationship

to Him would be A SOURCE OF GREATEST BLESSING or of weightiest

trouble, or of most serious condemnation. Thus guided by this venerable saint, we

will regard the gospel of Christ as:

 

·   A TOUCHSTONE. Our Lord Himself was a touchstone by which the

men of His day were tried. He came not to judge the world, but to save the

world, as He said (John 12:47); and yet it was also true that “for

judgment He came into the world,” as He also said (ibid. ch. 9:39). His

mission was not to try, but to redeem; yet it was a necessary incidental

consequence of His coming that the character of the men who came in

contact with Him would be severely tested. When the Truth itself appeared

and moved amongst men, then it became clear that those who were

ignorantly supposed to be blind were the souls that were seeing God (“that

they who see not might see”), and equally clear that those who claimed to

know everything had eyes that were fastened against the light (“that they

who see might be made blind”). As Jesus lived and wrought and spoke, the

hearts of men were revealed — those who were children of wisdom heard

His voice (ibid. ch. 18:37), while those who loved darkness rather than

light turned away from the revealing Truth. And today the gospel is the

touchstone of human character. They who are earnest seekers after God,

after wisdom, after righteousness, gladly sit at the feet of the great Teacher

to learn of Him; but they who live for pleasure, for gain, for the honor that

cometh from man only, for this passing world, pass Him by, indifferent or

hostile. They who are prepared to come as little children to learn of the

heavenly Father, receive His Word and enter His kingdom (here, ch. 18:16);

while they who consider themselves able to solve the great problems of life

and destiny keep their minds closed against the truth.

 

·   A SWORD OF SORROW. It was not only Mary’s heart that was

pierced by reason of her affection for Jesus Christ. Loyalty to Him proved

to that generation, and has proved in every age since then, a sword that has

wounded and slain. At many times and in many places it has meant violent

persecution — stripes, imprisonment, death. In every land and in every age

it has exposed men to hostility, to reproach, to temporal loss, to social

disadvantage, to a lower station, to a struggling life, to a wounded spirit

(ch. 9:23; John 17:14; II Timothy 3:12). Our Lord invites us

to regard this inevitable accompaniment of spiritual integrity as an honor

and a blessing rather than a stigma and a curse (Matthew 5:10-12).

 

·   A STUMBLING-STONE. That “Child was set for the fall… of

many.” The truth which Jesus spoke, the great work of salvation He

wrought out, has proved to many, not only in Israel, but in every land

where it has been made known, a rock of offense (see ch. 20:18;

I Corinthians 1:23).

 

·   A STEPPING-STONE. Not only for the fall, but for the “rising

again,” was that Infant “set.” By planting their feet on that safe, strong

rock:

 

Ø      the humiliated and even the degraded rise to honor and esteem,

Ø      the humble to hopefulness,

Ø      the weak to strength,

Ø      the blemished to beauty,

Ø      the useless to helpfulness,

Ø      the children of earth to spheres of blessedness and

     joy in the heavenly world.

 

 

 

Greeting of Anna the Prophetess (vs. 36-38)

 

36 “And there was one Anna, a prophetess,” -  The name of this holy woman is

the same as that of the mother of Samuel. It is not necessary to assume that this

Anna had the gift of foretelling future events. She was, at all events, a preacher.

These saintly, gifted women, though never numerous, were not unknown in the story

of the chosen people. We read of the doings — in some cases the very words are

preserved — of Miriam, Hannah, Deborah, Huldah, and others - “the daughter

of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser:” -  It is true that at this period the ten tribes had

been long lost, the “Jews” being made up of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin;

but yet certain families preserved their genealogies, tracing their descent to one or

other of the lost divisions of the people. Thus Anna belonged to Asher -“she was

of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;”

 

 

37 “And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed

not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” 

Probably, in virtue of her reputation as a prophetess, some small chamber in the

temple was assigned to her.  This seems to have been the case with Huldah

(II Chronicles 34:22). It has also been suggested that she lovingly performed some

work in or about the sacred building. Farrar suggests such as trimming the lamps

(as is the rabbinic notion about Deborah), derived from the word lapidoth,

(torches), splendor.  Such sacred functions were regarded among all nations as

a high honor.  The great city of Ephesus boasted her name of νεωκόρος

neokoros -  templesweeper, as her proudest title to honor.

 

38 “And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord,

and spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”

 

 

 

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