Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tuesday, May 7th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Sam 15-16, Psalm 91, Acts 2
Today's scripture focus is Luke 2:25-30

Luke 2:25-30

English Standard Version (ESV)
25 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. 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. 27 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, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation

Accompanying MacArthur sermon: Testifying to Jesus: Simeon, Part 1
Accompanying Driscoll sermon: Jesus and the Temple
Accompanying Chandler sermon: Departing in Peace

One of Sandy's daughters broke her arm yesterday, and hours long wait at the ER is not conducive to Bible study I wouldn't think, so here we go....

The name Simeon means "God has heard".  And no doubt God moved the heart of Simeon's parents to give him that name.  And Simeon was one of the few faithful remnant, who was crying out to God for the Messiah, for the King, for the Saviour to come.  And God heard. And Messiah came.  And Simeon received the priviledge of testifying to this fact.

V25 tells us that Simeon was righteous and devout.
MacArthur: Now that seems like a very simple statement. I'm telling you, folks, it's loaded with meaning. He was righteous and devout. Whenever the Bible says somebody is righteous, it means they are justified before God. It doesn't mean they earned their righteousness, that's impossible. When the Bible says somebody is righteous, it means that God has declared them righteous and God only declares sinners righteous when they trust in God for their forgiveness, not in their own works. And God applied the sacrifice of Jesus Christ which hadn't even happened to Simeon because Simeon knew his sinfulness and he knew he couldn't earn his salvation. He cast himself on the mercy of God. God declared him righteous on the basis of what Christ would do in bearing his sins in the future. He was a righteous man. Whenever the Bible says a man is righteous, or a woman is righteous, it means before God they are considered just because their sins have been paid for and they have been forgiven.

He was a true believer and right with God. So he had been justified. And then it says about him he was devout. Now what do we mean by that? Well, the first word "righteous" means he was justified, and this word means he was sanctified. If you were justified in the Old Testament, you were sanctified too. Justification, the work of God to declare you just, also carried, I believe, a changing component. I believe something happened even in an Old Testament person's life that changed the inside and they began to become a lover of God's Law. Witness Psalm 119 and that's a heart of a just man, a man made just before God and a man being sanctified by God.
The word "devout" simply talks about the fact that this is a man who was concerned for the things of God. In fact, the classic translation of this, very often this word "devout" is, and mark this, "cautious." That's a great word. He had been justified by God through his faith and he was cautious, which is to say he was careful as to how he treated God and responded to God's Word. He didn't live an irresponsible life. He lived a very careful, cautious life...careful to obey God, careful to honor God, so as to bring glory to God and to be an example to others. This...this defines his character. He was a man who was justified, he was a man who was sanctified. This is a true remnant man. This is a true Jew. Not all Israel is Israel, not every Jew is a true Jew, Paul said. And he was right, here's a true one, here's one who truly knew God. Here is a one who has been declared righteous by God and who lives a life that is cautious and careful, careful to honor God, careful to obey God. That's his character.
V25 also tells us that he was looking for the consolation of Israel.  What does that mean?
He was looking for the Messiah, not just for him but for the nation. He cared about his people. He cared that they were in sin. He knew that legalism didn't save. He knew the Pharisees were leading the population into legalism and the Sadducees were leading the population into liberalism, denying the resurrection, denying the supernatural, denying angels. And he knew that the Zealots were leading the people into politicism where all they wanted to do was start an insurrection and a rebellion and a war against Rome. And he knew that the Essenes were leading people into monasticism where somehow they go out in the desert and in some kind of acts of self-denial bring upon themselves the salvation of God. He knew all that was wrong, he knew what the truth was. He was a just and a righteous man, a man cautious and careful about the law of God and a man who took the Old Testament at face value, believed the actual consolation of the nation Israel would come. And by consolation he means the comfort of Israel, the help of Israel, deliverance from enemies and pressures...oppressors, and most of all deliverance of sin...

the Abrahamic Covenant promised them blessing and the whole land which was now not theirs, and the Davidic Covenant promised them sovereignty and the King and rule over the world and that wasn't theirs. But most of all, the New Covenant which also had been promised by God promised them forgiveness and cleansing and a new heart and an implanting of the Holy Spirit.
I think all of that was in the hope of Simeon. He wanted it all to come for the people Israel. He wanted to see the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, Davidic Covenant, New Covenant, all of it come to fullness and the worse the times were the more they longed for it. The worse his nation got the more his heart ached about it. 

The end of v25 says the Holy Spirit was upon him.  What does that mean?
Anybody living in the Old Testament before the cross, before the day of Pentecost, was saved the same grace through faith. They just...they just knew God would provide a lamb, God would provide a sacrifice, that God was willing to forgive their sin, that God would have a way to do that. They didn't know what that was, but they trusted God for their forgiveness and their salvation, and didn't trust in their own works.
Now no sinner dead in trespasses and sins as all sinners are through all of history could come to that conclusion on his own. In order for anybody to come to the understanding of the truth, it had to be done by the Spirit of God. ....
the Holy Spirit was there to convict them of sin, to show them their failures against the Law of God, to bring conviction to their heart, to produce repentance, to elicit faith, to draw them to God, to cry out for mercy, grace and forgiveness. Even to understand that God would have to provide a substitute, a sacrifice which was pictured in all the Old Testament sacrificial system was the work of the Spirit to help them to understand the meaning of the Old Testament and to understand it accurately. It was the work of the Spirit, therefore, to bring them to justification and it was the ongoing work of the Spirit to cause sanctification. It was the Spirit who was moving them along in obedience. It was the Spirit that was assisting, obviously, in the life of Simeon so that he was devout, that he was cautious and careful in obedience to the law. I mean, they couldn't live without the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who justifies and sanctifies anybody in any age.....
Whenever you see in the Old Testament the expression "the Holy Spirit came upon someone," it doesn't mean that before that He wasn't anywhere around. It simply is a phrase that indicates an anointing for a special responsibility. Most often it had to do with speaking for God. The Holy Spirit came upon someone and he spoke for God. It could have been deeds that were done, such as in the case of Samson when the Spirit came upon him, it was something that he did. But predominantly it's an indication of a special anointing beyond the normal work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of true believers and familiar to any student of the Old Testament.
And then we see v26.
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.
Nobody knew when the Messiah was coming.  Except Simeon.  Simeon didn't know the exact date obviously, but God had revealed that Messiah would come in his physical lifetime.  How amazing would that be?!  The excitement, the anticipation, the motivation to live by faith and pursue holiness - knowing that any time now, the Messiah was coming!

So, Luke has told us that this is a righteous man - justified and sanctified, with a sound understanding of the OT prophecies, who had been especially anointed by the Spirit.  This is one credible witness.  What would this person say about the baby Jesus?

The day comes that Joseph and Mary bring Jesus to the temple, for Mary's purification sacrifice and to pay the firstborn ransom to support the Levites - to fulfill the law.  And in the midst of the huge throng of other worshipers at the temple, the Spirit brings Simeon to Joseph and Mary and Jesus.  And Simeon takes baby Jesus in his arms.  Can you even imagine what he must have been feeling?  Finally!  He held the very Messiah in his arms.  The joy must have been overwhelming.  He didn't know everything that would happen to this little baby boy, but he knew enough. He knew this was the Saviour of the world. And he blessed Him.

Joseph and Mary no doubt told Simeon about the angel and his message and all that had happened. And with the guidance of the Spirit, he knew the truth.

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation

This was the moment Simeon had lived for.  God had promised that he would see the Messiah, he had, and now he was ready to die.

What tremendous testimony. So firm is his testimony that he's willing to die. This indicates to me, at least, that probably he was old, probably he was ready for heaven. Probably his life is so much behind him that there's no much left and certainly you can't top this. I've seen Him, Lord. I've held Him. And in that contentment and in that confidence, release Your slave, set me free from this world into Your glorious presence. The waiting is over, the watching is over, the hoping is over. Messiah is here. His heart is settled and at peace and he can go to the presence of the God he loves to serve. "For my eyes have seen Thy salvation." 

Doesn't that just transport you back in time?  You can almost feel that baby in your arms, feeling the beat of his little heart and realizing that this is the Saviour of the world.  What an amazing privilege!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 2:31-35
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Samuel 17-18, Psalm 92, Acts 3

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tammy! I owe you one.
She's ok, btw. Fractured radius, luckily on her non-dominant arm. She's handling it rather well!