The Faith of our Fathers
Illustration: “Glory Days” football game. Neighborhood Alliance
There can be a tendency for the young to consider the older folks to be behind in thinking (technology, information, education all constantly improve. Youth know things their parents didn’t know.
Younger people need to value and respect older people. They have much to teach.
And 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 marveled 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.”
Last week recap vs 22-24: The obedience of Mary and Joseph keeping the law. Went to the temple to do as was required. They 1) present him to the Lord 2) offer a sacrifice. Two turtledoves or two young pigeons, this sacrifice was “less than”. It was a concession for the poor who could not afford a lamb.
Now Simeon. Who was Simeon?
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.
Righteous and devout: His behavior towards others and towards God was upright.
He was waiting for the consolation of Israel. Much of Jewish history involved bondage, being under the thumb of other nations or powers, a history of mistreatment. Many Jews longed for the “consolation of Israel”. Today, many people wait for consolation, or vindication. They sometimes are hoping for a return of those glory days. Sometimes that is ok, so long as it is God’s glory they are hoping for. Believers have this hope for future consolation, that we will have every tear wiped from our eyes, that we see see Jesus, and know God, and have Him be our God and we be his people.
Many people today await the glory days, but they aren’t even sure what that means. We are blessed in this world to have gifted artists, whether with visual art, or writing, or song writing, or dramatic gifts. They give us ideas about how things could be. And yet, outside of God’s plan for the salvation of people, none of that really meets the need.
Whatever your favorite mode of art is, whether viewing paintings, or seeing plays or movies, or reading a book, no one really truly finishes consuming that media and says to themselves, “That’s it!” now I know exactly what bliss is, what peace is, what happiness is.” Rather, these things at their very best only provide to increase our real longing. The Christian knows what this longing is for, Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of that longing. Paul writes Rom8.19-25
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
We wait eagerly. So said the writer to the Hebrews:
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel. He was a pre-Christian believer. The Bible teaches that those who were saved in the OT times were saved by faith, just as they are today. No man was justified by the law, it was by faith. Simeon was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. This means he spoke prophetically. Indeed, his words here, since they are included in scripture, we know were inspired and inerrant, as all of the Bible is.
Matthew Henry was certain that he had identified this Simeon. He believes it is the same Simeon who was written about by the Jews. This Simeon was, according to Matthew Henry:
known for eminent piety and communion with God
Was of great note in Jerusalem
was the son of Hillel, who founded a rabbinical school, and was the first of only 7 men to have been honored with the title “Rabban”
Was president (for a while) of the college his father Hillel founded
The Jews Said he was endued with a prophetical spirit.
He was rejected because he witnessed against the common opinion of the Jews concerning the temporal kingdom of the Messiah (in other words, that the Messiah was more than just a leader for a time)
He was the father to Gamaliel, who was the teacher of Paul the Apostle. Gamaliel was concerned about the Christians and was the one who cautioned the Sanhedrin to leave the Christians alone.
So this is who is thought by Matthew Henry to be this same Simeon. Luke2.26
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.
A unique prophecy to have recieved!
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,
He came in the Spirit to the temple indicates that he had received a special calling to the temple that day. God called him from wherever he was and from whatever he was doing to go to the temple at this time. Another example of obedience.
Simeon had received the promise that he would see the Lord’s Christ, so I suspect he had been looking forward to this, eagerly awaiting, not only the consolation of Israel, but his own special sneak preview. So Mary and Joseph come in obedience to the temple, to do what the law requires of them. Simeon comes and picks up this child. He was eagerly awaiting. I remember when our babies were born, some eagerly awaiting grandparents came to pick up those babies!
And Simeon has been eagerly awaiting this. I haven’t read his autobiography, but I suspect that for Simeon, nothing else had mattered much to him since he had received the promise of God that he would see the Christ. Now he comes to the temple. He is called to the temple. God calls those whom he calls for his purposes.
And Simeon blesses God and gives a beautiful prayer, some have said this was the first Christian hymn;
“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.”
That first line, in other words, Simeon is saying, “let me die now”. I am at peace. God had told Abraham that he would die in peace. Simeon faithfully and eagerly awaited the fulfillment of the promise He had received. But his faith had also put him at peace with God. The word in this line for Lord is different than the word usually used. this is not lord, Kurios, it is despote. The word we get despot from. Today this is usually meaning a ruthless person who is a dictator. But here is means sovereign, the master, the Lord.
for my eyes have seen your salvation
Note that Simeon does not say he has seen part of the Lord’s salvation. He does not see I have been given a glimpse at your salvation. He does not say, well step one! What is next? He says my eyes have seen your salvation. Jesus is salvation. Jesus is all of salvation. Salvation does not come through Jesus plus works, salvation is Jesus plus nothing.
this is salvation, Simeon says,
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
Simeon is speaking of a universal salvation, not universalism, which means everyone will be saved, but universal in the sense that this salvation is not limited to the Jews, but people from every tribe and nation will experience this salvation.
A light for revelation: John8.12
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, and my salvation will not delay; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.
And Simeon had more to say, this time to Mary alone:
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.”
Simeon could now die in peace. All who see Jesus for who He is and put faith in God for His salvation can die in peace. He allows those to die in peace who, moments before their death, look to him for salvation.
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
This man put faith in Jesus at the very end of his life, with minutes to spare! I do not recommend this strategy to you, for you do not know the moment God will call you to judgement. Do not delay, the time for salvation is now. God calls you to believe in Christ, He who lived as a man, who died sinless for our sins, and was raised again to life everlasting, this Jesus calls you to faith in him.
Either you will die or He will return at any moment. Rev22.20
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
He is coming quickly, so come to Him, before He comes to you at your death or at his return. He is coming quickly, either the time for all mankind quickly approaches or your own mortality will soon come to an end. You do not know whether the good God will not cut your breath short at any moment, so you must come to Him, and come right now! He commands you to believe in Him. He commands you to repent of your wickedness and sin. If you do not, the wrath of God will consume you for all eternity.
For the unrepentant, nothing awaits after death expect the wrath of God. Each day, as you continue in sin, you are storing up wrath on yourself to your own judgment:
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
He is coming soon for everyone. Either Jesus returns or our lives end and we face the judgment. Will you not put faith in Christ? Your judgment, the wrath of God you have stored up for yourself, can be placed on Christ! He already paid the price, to restore to you a relationship with God, to receive his perfection and righteousness for a covering that will spare you the wrath of God.
This word is trustworthy. Rev22.21
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
We who are saved ask Jesus to come, and yet while await his coming, he continues to call sinners to repent, so that none of those he has chosen for salvation will miss out on his call. We call to Jesus who are in him to come, and he calls sinners to come. Rev22.17
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
Let the thirsty come! Have you been thirsty for a drink that truly refreshes? Are you dry and weary, sick and tired of your sin, then come! Come to Jesus! He calls you now. Come! Simeon was thirsty. He had been awaiting the consolation of Israel. When he was called, he came! And he received the refreshing he so desperately needed.
The criminal on the cross was certainly thirsty, and not just the thirst that comes as life is expiring. He saw his need, and he looked upon Christ. Yes, this man, from the very cross of his own death, after having been tried and convicted by men, and was about to enter the judgement of God, realized his need. He came to Jesus. He looked on Jesus and put full faith in him, just as Simeon, some 30 years before, had looked on the baby Jesus, and put his faith in God’s Salvation. That man, dying next to Jesus, came to him, looked to him, and he received his salvation.
Is it at all possible this many had somehow, on that cross, done some sort of works to earn God’s grace? No, but all he had to do to receive God’s grace was to look upon Jesus, and come to him in faith. Any prospects he had to save himself was hopeless.
And we may look down on that man, and say, yes, but he was desperate, he believed because he was about to die! What? Those not in Christ are dead already. You don’t have to be on the cross to be a dead man walking, a dead woman walking. If you are not in Christ, there is only one other category for you. Dead in your sins. But you need not remain dead in your sins. Come to Jesus.
I plead with you, please come to him. Is your heart breaking because of your sin? And perhaps you think that sin is too much. He will not turn you away! He delights to cover your sin with his blood. He is pleased to do it! It brings much glory to Him when a sinner is forgiven! He loves it, and all of heaven as well. Come to Jesus!
I plead with you, but Christ himself pleads with you. For this purpose I preach His gospel, it is true and offers to you everlasting life! Rom 1:16-17
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Would you be righteous? Live by faith. Come to Jesus. What have you to offer him? nothing but your sin and your miserable self, but he will take it. In exchange for him taking your sin, he will give to you His own righteousness. He will grant you eternal life. Be warned, though, that following this call will make you unpopular with many. You will be hated because you love Him. You will be ridiculed. You may even lose a job or friends or family. It is very likely. He promises His followers that they will be hated as He was. It is not an easy life because you follow Christ.
Many here have been mocked and even worse for loving Jesus and trying to live out their faith. Many in our world, every day, are killed, sometimes by their own family, for coming to Jesus. You are not promised wealth and easy living if you come to Jesus. But what is all that? What are those pains, compared to the eternal bliss? What is the mocking of people if you are approved by God?
For you who believe already, take heart. I see the news you do, I fully expect that we as believers may feel the wrath of the God-haters. But we live in this promise:
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
If you have never come to Jesus, come to Him now! And if you have come to Jesus, keep coming to Jesus. Know for certain the assurance of His salvation.
Any persecution or mistreatment we may receive we should consider like Paul to be light momentary affliction. And rejoice to know that this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. So we do not live for today, but for eternity.