He Realized His Heart’s Desire
IS IT your heart’s desire to see the Messianic Kingdom hold sway over all the earth? If so, you yearn and pray for the promised earthly blessings under that heavenly Kingdom. Exercise patience, then, for “the thing desired is a tree of life when it does come.”—Proverbs 13:12; James 5:7, 8.
Almost 2,000 years ago, there lived in Jerusalem the “righteous and reverent” man Simeon. He had faith in Messianic prophecies and was patiently “waiting for Israel’s consolation.”—Luke 2:25.
Messianic Prophecies Give Hope
Jehovah was responsible for the first Messianic prophecy—one that gave hope to sinful and dying mankind. God foretold the coming of the Seed of his “woman,” or universal organization.—Genesis 3:15.
That One was identified as Abraham’s seed, and Jacob foretold his coming. (Genesis 22:17, 18; 49:10) Glories of the Messiah’s Kingdom were extolled in the psalms. (Psalm 72:1-20) Isaiah foretold that the Seed would be born of a virgin, and Micah prophesied that the birth would occur in Bethlehem. (Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2) These are but a few of the many Messianic prophecies.
Still No Messiah!
Reflect on the past, and imagine that the first century C. E. is approaching. God’s original Messianic prophecy is now 4,000 years old. The Jews have experienced the destruction of Jehovah’s temple, the desolation of their homeland, a 70-year exile in Babylon, and 500 more years of subjection to Gentile rulers. Still no Messiah!
How God-fearing Jews yearned for the Messiah’s coming! From him blessings would flow to them and to all nations.
A Reverent Man
Among reverent Jews longing and praying for the Messiah’s coming is Simeon, a faithful elderly servant of Jehovah living in Judea’s capital city. Something special has happened to Simeon.
God has placed his holy spirit on Simeon and has rewarded him with a revelation. Simeon will not see death until he has seen the One who will be the Messiah. But days and months are passing. Simeon is aging and can hardly expect to live much longer. Will God’s promise to him be fulfilled?
One day (in 2 B.C.E.), a young couple with a baby come to the temple from Bethlehem. Holy spirit reveals to Simeon that this is the long-awaited day. He goes to the temple, where he will see the One of whom the prophets have written. Hurrying as fast as his aged frame permits, he sees Joseph, Mary, and the child.
With what joy Simeon takes the child Jesus into his arms! This One will be the promised Messiah—“the Christ of Jehovah.” At such an advanced age, Simeon cannot hope to watch Jesus fulfill His earthly mission. Yet, it is wonderful to see him as a babe. Messianic prophecies are beginning to be fulfilled. How happy Simeon is! Now he will be content to sleep in death until the resurrection.—Luke 2:25-28.
Simeon’s Prophetic Words
As Simeon lifts his voice in praise to Jehovah, 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.” Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, and His mother, Mary, continue to wonder about these words.—Luke 2:29-33.
Simeon’s countenance is bright as he blesses Joseph and Mary, evidently wishing them Jehovah’s blessing in fulfilling their responsibilities toward the child. Then the aged man’s face becomes serious. 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.
Simeon’s Statement to Mary
Imagine how Mary felt. What did Simeon mean? Some would accept Christ and be lifted up from their already fallen state. However, others would reject him, stumble over him, and fall. As foretold, Jesus proved to be a stone of stumbling to many Jews. (Isaiah 8:14; 28:16) Simeon’s words do not mean that individual Israelites would first fall in unbelief and then rise in belief by accepting Jesus. Rather, reactions to him would vary with different individuals, uncovering the reasonings of many hearts and leading to God’s judgment toward them for good or for bad. To unbelievers, he would be as a sign, or an object of contempt. By putting faith in him, others would be lifted up from being dead in trespasses and sins and would come to enjoy a righteous standing with God. The actions of people toward the Messiah would show what was in their hearts.
What of Simeon’s words: “A long sword will be run through the soul of you yourself”? There is no Scriptural indication that Mary had an actual sword run through her. Yet, rejection of Jesus by the majority would distress her. And how painful it was for Mary to see Jesus nailed to a stake! This was like having a sword run through her.
Simeon Applies Messianic Prophecies
God’s spirit had moved Simeon to apply Messianic prophecies to Jesus. Simeon could leave this life in peace, or tranquillity, ‘because his eyes had seen God’s means of saving that He had made ready in the sight of all the peoples, a light for removing the veil from the nations and a glory of His people Israel.’ (Luke 2:30-32) How well this applied to Isaiah’s prophetic words!
That prophet foretold: “The glory of Jehovah will certainly be revealed, and all flesh must see it together.” “I [Jehovah] also have given you [the Messiah] for a light of the nations, that my salvation may come to be to the extremity of the earth.” (Isaiah 40:5; 42:6; 49:6; 52:10) The Christian Greek Scriptures and physical facts have since borne out that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, is the true light of the nations, the One to remove the veil of spiritual darkness and bring salvation to the people.
God’s Word says no more about elderly Simeon. Evidently he died before Christ opened the way to heavenly life. Before long, then, Simeon will be resurrected to life on earth. What joy he—and you—can experience in the new world under God’s Messianic Kingdom!