I remember that moment as if it were but a day ago. Yet, many years have passed, and I am ready to leave this world.
I was awake; everyone else in my house had fallen asleep. I was minding my own business. Darkness hung like a curtain in the sky. The stillness of the night was heavy. You could almost cut it with a knife.
“Simeon, You shall behold Him.” Like the rushing of many waters, I heard this Voice within the depths of my soul.
Why, it was too good to be true! I was confused and yet certain that I had heard, almost a voice from heaven, saying, “Simeon, You shall behold Him.” I didn’t exactly know what it meant, but just that day, I was thinking about the trouble of our world—how:
Long lay the world in sin and error pining…
It had been a long time since Israel had heard a word from God. The prophets of old, mistreated as they were by the people of God, had long since fell silent—nearly 400 years, no prophecy… no nothing… No nothing except the Romans who now held our small nation in chains. Rome, they were our current trouble, was an oppressive regime that had long been an iron hand and demanded allegiance to Caesar. Before the Romans, the Persians, Greeks, & Maccabeans reigned in Israel. The Maccabeans were Jews in the land who revolted against the Greeks, and Israel had great hopes that they would be the Savior of God’s people. But they became less & less spiritual & more & more political, slowly falling in love with the Roman way of governing. And eventually they were overtaken by the Romans
It’s really easy to see how God’s chosen people could essentially become atheists. We’ve got the Scriptures from of Old, yet no sign of our own King on the horizon anywhere. We’ve got these promises, but nothing/no one who even comes close to the King promised in the Holy Scriptures.
Surely, you can relate to how easily it is to slip into a despair of ever knowing this King. Why, 400 years ago, in 1611, the Pilgrims had not even landed on American soil. Your nation did not even exist 400 years ago. So you can maybe understand why this long silence could lead many to disbelieve.
Yet, those words “Simeon, You shall behold Him…” suddenly came with power in my soul. I tried to shake them off, explain them away, rationalize them as false assurance. Then the Voice came again: “Simeon, you shall not die until you behold the Christ-child.” It was so powerful and yet so peaceful.
Why… this was simply too good to be true! Who am I that I should get to witness the fulfillment of this Promise? Truly, I was seeking to be faithful to the LORD, I was LONGING for the HOPE of ISRAEL, but surely I was fooling myself to think I would see this firsthand.
I grabbed my imagination by the scruff of its neck to regain control of my senses. I carried on with life.
King Herod the Great, as he was called, was a Jew but he was controlled by the Romans. He was a merciless king. His reign was oppressive. He even killed two of His own sons. More & more the light was dimming of ever there being a Consolation in Israel. Everything was too political, too controlled to really see any possibility of change.
Yet, there was this thrill of hope that would beckon me.
For years I would resign myself to the fact that the Voice was merely wishful thinking, and then, as I would listen to the Holy Scriptures being read in the Temple, the rabbi would read…
Israel shall be saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation; You won’t be ashamed or disgraced forever & ever. Isaiah 45:17
Those who hopefully wait for me will not be put to shame. Isaiah 49:23
It will be said in that day; Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation. Isaiah 25:9
As if it were a stoker to a fire, the coals of my tiny faith were re-ignited with fresh oxygen & the flame would grow again. Yet, later life would again press down on me, the darkness of our present ills would rise & faith would linger. Then would come:
You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it. Isaiah 46:11
This went on for years: hope followed by despair, followed by re-ignited hope, followed by report after report of Herod’s oppressive regime putting to death those who opposed him. It was all too much for me.
Then, one day it happened. I was, as it felt, pushed by God to go to the Temple. Almost apart from my will I was compelled by the Spirit of God to go to the Temple. This was almost like a dream. Why was I here at this time? Why did I feel such a burden to be in the House of God at this time.
Then suddenly, from across the courtyard I saw a young couple—a young man and his wife who couldn’t have been more than 13 or 14 walking into the Temple. They had a Baby with them, I assume that they brought to fulfill the law towards the Child.
As I approached, this JOY filled my entire being as I looked upon this Baby—this Messiah—as everything within me was screaming to me that THIS was the Christ. THIS was the ONE who had come to deliver His people from their sins!
I took the Baby into my arms and exclaimed:
O Lord, You are now 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.
I am now an old man ready to die, and God’s promise to me came long ago. Yet one thing I have found to be true. This God, this amazing God, spoke into my heart a truth that would indeed come to pass. I have beheld it with my own eyes! This same God is not limited by your conflicted life. He’s not bound by your fears. He’s not crippled by your doubts. His hands are not helpless against the oppressive war being raged in your life… I wonder… Has He spoken to you?
(taken from Luke 2:25-32)