Simeon Realizes His Heart’s Desire
IN EDEN God foretold the coming of the One who would bruise the serpent’s head. Later, to Abraham, God identified that One as he who was to bless all the families of the earth. Under inspiration Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, when on his deathbed, foretold the coming of that One, Shiloh, to whom the people would gather. Moses prophesied of the coming of that One, and that he would be a prophet greater than Moses. David, king and poet, sang of the glories of His kingdom. Isaiah foretold that he would be born of a virgin, and Micah recorded that that One would be born in Bethlehem. Such are but a few of the many prophecies that pointed forward to the One who by common consent of the Jews was referred to as the Messiah, the Son of David.
These prophecies were now hundreds of years, yes, one of them even four thousand years old. The Israelites had seen a seventy-year captivity in Babylon coupled with the complete desolation of their beloved homeland and since then they had experienced five hundred more years of subjection to Gentile rulers. Still no Messiah! still no Son of David! How the faithful, God-fearing Jews yearned and prayed for his coming—he that was to restore Israel, free it from the galling Gentile yoke; the One who was to bless all the families of the earth.
Among such righteous and reverent Jews who longed and prayed for the Messiah’s coming was a faithful old servant of Jehovah by the name of Simeon who lived in Jerusalem. God had placed on him his holy spirit and rewarded him with the revelation that he would not see death until he had laid eyes on the one who was to be the Christ of Jehovah. Days, months, years were fleeing by, Simeon was aging, he had not much longer to live. When would he see this one?
Then one day, toward the end of 2 B.C., a young couple with a baby came to the temple from Bethlehem in Judea. The holy spirit revealed to him that this was the day he was waiting for and moved him to go to the temple, and there he would see the one of whom all the prophets had written. Hurrying there as quickly as his aged frame will permit him, he sees Joseph, Mary and the child. With what joy Simeon takes the child Jesus in his arms! This was the One who would be the promised Messiah, the Son of David! Though himself too old to hope to see this One fulfill his earthly mission, yet even to see him as a babe, to realize that salvation for Israel was that near, that God had again remembered and visited his people, that all that had been written regarding him by the prophets was now at long last beginning to have fulfillment—what ecstasy all this must have brought to the aged Simeon! Now he was content to sleep in death until the latter end, until God would call him forth in the resurrection. Lifting his voice in praise to God we hear him say: “Now, Sovereign Lord, you are letting your slave go free in peace according to your declaration; because my eyes have seen your means of saving that you have made ready in the sight of all the peoples, a light for removing the veil from the nations and a glory of your people Israel.”—Luke 2:27-33, NW.
See now how his face lights up as he blesses Joseph, the foster father, and Mary, the mother of Jesus! Then his face suddenly becomes serious, as, directing his remarks to Mary alone, he adds: “Look! this one is laid for the fall and the rising again of many in Israel and for a sign to be talked against (yes, a long sword will be run through the soul of you yourself), in order that the reasonings of many hearts may be uncovered.”—Luke 2:34, 35, NW.
Under the influence of the holy spirit Simeon here was applying a number of prophecies to Jesus. See Isaiah 52:10; 40:5; 42:6; 49:6; 8:14, 18. The Christian Scriptures and the physical facts have since borne out that the Messiah, Christ Jesus, is indeed the light of the nations, the One to remove the veil of darkness from the faces of men and the One that brings them salvation.
We have good reason to believe that before long Simeon himself will share in the blessings that he foretold that Christ Jesus would bring to the peoples. (Rev. 11:17, 18) With what joy he will enter on his privileges in the new world under Jehovah’s king, the Son of David!