Tucked away in the story of the birth of Jesus are stories of other amazing men and women of faith. One such man was an older man named Simeon who spent his life in eager anticipation of seeing the Hope of Israel.
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There is something powerful that happens when one generation eagerly invests their life and attention into the promise of the next generation coming after them. When the older, wiser generation refuses to let their life end before they have invested their resources and time in seeing the promises of God fulfilled in those younger than them, it creates a powerful heritage and momentum that is calculated over centuries.
Simeon was a man eagerly anticipating and watching for the promises of God to be fulfilled for Israel, and he was watching for the Messiah. He was vigilant in his pursuit of the Hope God had promised. Every child born, and every person who operated in any godly passion and authority was on his radar. He didn’t want to miss what God was doing.
It’s easy to look at a politically troubled world and say “It’s all going to hell in a hand-basket!” It’s quite another to eagerly watch for the goodness of God His promises being walked out in the next generation. The joy of being a part of that promise, and not wanting to die until you see the fruit of that promise in those coming after you is something that many people miss.
There is a temptation after you have lived a full life to put your motor into park. It’s not really your responsibility anymore what happens with the world, because you already did your part; but what if you could make your life part of the legacy of God’s goodness by continuing to look for the goodness of God in those younger than you, and affirming, nurturing and encouraging them?
What if you, who carry the promises of God, passed them on to a generation who needed to hear them? What if you could prophesy hope, victory, and comfort to a world unsure of its future? That’s what Simeon did.
Even though baby Jesus was the carrier of the ultimate hope for the world and would likely not understand Simeon’s words, it was to the benefit of Mary and Joseph to hear the promise declared. It was an historical moment for Israel, and you and me that Simeon watched and waited for this Messiah, and then declared the promise of God without shame or reservation when he recognized him in the temple that day.
It is to the benefit of your family, community, city, state, nation, that you prophesy (speak the words of God) to the next generation. In even 50 years from now when your children’s children are questioning if God is real, it is your story and mine that they will reflect on for their decisions. So tell your redemption story. Tell it over and over. Tell then next generation that God is faithful and will walk them through everything life throws at them. Tell them that God answers prayer and shuts the mouths of lions, rescues from the pit, redeems from slavery, and recreates from ashes. Tell them there is nothing impossible with God, and they have the power to change the world with God alive in them. Tell them that their hearts will break, and be filled in the process, and the fruit of their lives will continue to encourage and strengthen weak hearts for generations to come. Tell them.
Let the life of Simeon inspire you to be looking for God’s goodness in every generation you are alive to see, then boldly declare God’s promises again and again!Painting by Ron DiCianni