Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dreams Come True

Scriptural Reading: Luke 2:2:25-38
Devotional Reading: Isaiah 49:8-13

I have had many dreams, like many of the readers. Some have come to past and some have not. I am thankful for the experiences received in life for having followed my dreams. There is always a lesson learned. Colin Powell is known for having said, "A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” On the other hand Harriet Tubman stated, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” My best dreams were when I remembered to include God. I knew I would receive a response from God, but would it be a “dream come true”? In Is 49:8 and 13 it is recorded as follows by the prophet Isaiah, “Thus says the LORD: ‘In an acceptable time I have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You and give You as a covenant to the people, to restore the earth, to cause them to inherit the desolate heritages;…Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted.” (NKJV) Isaiah prophesied of the coming day of salvation and justice. Just as we saw in our previous lessons that Mary, Joseph, Zechariah and Elizabeth looked forward to God’s provision of grace and mercy in keeping hope alive for the coming Messiah and salvation, this lesson demonstrates the dream was alive in Simeon and Anna also.

This quarter of study is entitled “Jesus and the Just Reign of God”. We are in Unit I – “God Sends Jesus” of the three units of the quarter. This is the final lesson of a five-lesson study. Jesus is presented as the Messiah and a light to the Gentiles as recorded in the book of Luke.

When Jesus was born, it was with much humility. He was not born in a grand palace, dressed in grand robes, and surrounded by a multitude of attendants. Instead He was born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling cloths, and was placed in a manger to be attended by His parents and watched by farm animals. Yet God made His birth spectacular by sending an angel to announce His coming to a group of shepherds who were watching their flock of sheep nearby. Then a multitude of angels sang praise to God for the birth of the Baby Jesus. Now it is the eighth day following His birth. Mary and Joseph are obedient to the Mosaic Law and intend to give Him back to the LORD. They must go to the Temple to record the birth of Jesus, have Him circumcised, and complete the purification rites of male children. The required sacrifice was brought, either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons (Luke 2:24). As they were going into the Temple they met a priest named Simeon. Just as the angels had announced the birth of the Baby Jesus, Simeon and later Anna, the prophetess, would change this most humble situation by their grand declarations and prophecies.

We first meet Simeon at Luke 2:25-28 and it is stated, “And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 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. So he came by 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, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:” (NKJV) Simeon’s name means “God has heard”. This is in keeping with the prophecy of Is 49:8 which stated God had heard the plight of Israel. Simeon believed what had been written in the book of Daniel and was closely watching the time. He was a Temple worshipper and had not given up hope on the salvation of the LORD. Simeon knew God would comfort His people and was looking for the Consolation of Israel (Is 12:1; 49:13). When God was quiet for years, Simeon had hope. The Holy Spirit supported him during that period and has now brought him to the Temple to bring him joy. When he saw the Baby Jesus he immediately felt blessed. He had only asked to see the salvation of the LORD. He was able to do more. He took the Baby into his arms to present the Child to Him and blessed God. It was a blessing that God keeps His Word. It was a blessing of thanks for being able to see and hold the salvation.

Then Simeon sang a song referred to as Nunc Dimittis, because they are the first words in Latin. The first line of Simeon’s song in Latin is as follows: “Nunc dimittis servum tuum.” In English it is recorded from Luke 2:29-32, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” (NKJV) Simeon did not feel that life could bring greater highlights than what he had just experienced. His dream had come true. He was at peace with leaving life behind and comfortable with meeting death. God had kept his promise that he would not see death until he had seen the Messiah that had been prepared for all peoples. Simeon was satisfied the Baby he held would be the Light of the World to all peoples, including the Gentiles. He proclaimed this Child would be an honor to the Israelites.

Mary and Joseph were encouraged by Simeon’s actions and what he had said. He had confirmed everything they had been told about Baby Jesus without their saying a word. Simeon then prophetically spoke to them. It is recorded at Luke 2:33-35, “And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against. (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (NKJV) Mary and Joseph had reason to rejoice. Jesus would be the reason for many to fall from their trespass in sin, convert, and rise in their acceptance in Christ and the Father God. However, many would not be able to accept Him. Their rejection would lead Him to the cross. Simeon prophesied that as Mary watched the crucifixion, it would pierce her soul also. Jesus will also prove to be the reason for many stumbling souls as the thoughts of many hearts shall be revealed as without the will of God.

While Simeon was prophesying they were approached at that moment by an old prophetess who lived in the Temple. It is recorded at Luke 2:36-38, “Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the LORD, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” (NKJV) Anna was an elderly widow who lived in the Temple fasting and praying to God constantly. It is known that she was married for seven years before she was widowed. It is argued that she was widowed a total of eighty-four years old which would make her over a hundred years old. Others argue she was eighty-four years old as a widow. Whichever argument used, she was a prophetess from the tribe of Asher who immediately gave thanks and made the proclamation of redemption or salvation in Jerusalem when she saw Baby Jesus.

Divine dreams remain alive in the hearts of people through worship. Keep God in your dreams and Happy New Year.

Written by Deborah C Davis

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