“He was waiting for the consolation of Israel.” (Luke 2:25b NIV)
His bones ached. For the past several years, getting out of bed in the morning had been the most difficult part of his day. Today was no different. His old body protested the thought of getting out from under the covers. Nevertheless, as had been his habit for the last seven decades or so, he got up before sunrise, lit a lantern, and began his morning prayers.
Prayer had been a way of life for Simeon for nearly as long as he could remember. He had always particularly cherished his morning communion with God, but even more so of late. Though his body resisted getting up so early, his spirit was eager to be with God.
His longing for God had increased in proportion to the aging of his body. Simeon knew it was more than a desire for a deeper prayer-life. He was homesick. His heart ached for heaven as much as his bones ached under the burden of age. But, it was not yet his time.
He knew this. He had been given a promise. He longed to see its fulfillment as much as he longed for home. The Holy Spirit had promised him he would not die until he saw the Messiah of God, the Savior of the world, the consolation of Israel. Until then, prayer was his consolation. For, he would not go up to see the glory of heaven until he saw the Glory of heaven come down to men.
He knelt down to pray. His spirit immediately leapt up straight. Simeon had not felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit like this since . . . the promise! He got up and dressed. The purple hue of dawn’s first light greeted Simeon as he stepped out of his doorway. “The color of kings!” he thought as he turned to begin his walk toward the temple.
He felt no ache in his bones as he walked. He felt only the excited pounding of his heart. His feet could barely keep pace with its beat. But, the Holy Spirit was giving him strength. The Spirit was also giving him directions.
Simeon strode straight to the temple courts to pray and wait. He didn’t have to wait long. He heard the voices of a young couple. He heard a baby’s cry. He heard the Spirit’s voice, “This is the promise fulfilled!” Overcome with emotion, all sense of propriety left him. Wordlessly, Simeon walked to the baby’s mother and extended his arms, tears streaming down his weathered cheeks. His voice cracked, “May I, please?” The young mother looked to her husband. He smiled and nodded. Neither of them had any reservations whatsoever in letting this elderly gentleman with kindly eyes hold their infant son. Simeon cradled the baby in his arms and framed the child’s face with its blanket. Once again emotion welled up within his spirit, as did spontaneous praise.
“Sovereign Lord, it’s just as You promised. I, Your servant, can now depart this life in peace. I have finally seen Your salvation! The salvation that You have prepared for all people. He is a light that will reveal you to the Gentiles. And, He is for the glory of Your people, Israel.” Contented, he gently brushed the child’s eyebrows with his finger and kissed his forehead before handing him back to his mother. Simeon had long thought the continuous current of time had carried him far past his usefulness. Yet, when the woman’s hand touched his, he found his prophetic voice once again.
He spoke gently to the young mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall; but He will cause many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God. However, many will oppose him.”
He leaned closer and whispered sympathetically, “It will be like a sword piercing your very soul.” Then with joy, “But, the opposition will bring to light the deepest thoughts of people’s hearts, revealing those who love Him and exposing those who reject Him.”
Simeon finished speaking and released the Christ child fully into Mary’s arms. She and Joseph did not quite know what to make of the whole exchange. However, they instinctively knew the old man’s prophecy was from God. They knew that meeting Simeon that day had not been by chance. It was a divine appointment. Simeon knew it, too. It was an appointment he had been looking forward to keeping for years now.
On the long walk back to his house, Simeon’s old bones began to ache again – but, not his heart. For, he knew soon, very soon now, he would be going home*.
Jesus is the “Yes and amen” to every promise of God (2Cor. 1:20). Though sometimes delayed in our timing, we can be assured that His promises to us WILL be fulfilled. The “delays” are really preparation.
Sometimes God uses the delays to prepare our hearts and lives to receive a promise’s fulfillment. Other times, it’s to make us homesick. He is simply making our heart’s ache for heaven. There, we will find all His promises already fulfilled. Until then, prayer is our consolation.
By faith, we see the Consolation of Israel, the Messiah of God – the Savior of the world. The Glory of Heaven came down to men. His name is Jesus! He is the promised one of God; by Him, all of God’s promises will be fulfilled. In Him, we can assure our homesick hearts. In His perfect timing, we will be going home.
© Paul R Downing
*Story adapted from Luke 2:25-35