Following up on my last post… I’d like to take a look at some more examples of justified, Old Testament saints, being used by God to welcome The Messiah to the earth. In Luke 1 we are introduced to the parents of John the Baptist. Again… it is important to pay attention to the way people are described in the text. I believe it gives a clue to the content of their souls.
Luke 1:5–7 (NASB95)
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.
When God chose a couple to bring John the Baptist into the world… he chose two people who were “righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” These two people were people of faith… true believers in God… prior to their call to be the parents of John the Baptist.
I know this might be obvious… but I’m not sure people always pay attention to this context. There was a believing remnant alive just prior to Jesus’ arrival. God used these people, as key characters in the arrival of The Messiah, not because they would believe once He told them… but because they already had faith. They were God’s children through faith and already had a relationship with him.
Let’s continue the story of the arrival of The Messiah. Luke 2:21-38 tells what happened when, in accordance to the Law of Moses, Jesus was taken to Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord.
Luke 2:25–30 (NASB95)
25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking 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 carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation,…”
This is another example of God using an Old Testament saint to help in the presentation of His Son to the world. Once again the text is straightforward in it’s description of Simeon… he was righteous and devout… and he was looking for the consolation of Israel. Did you get that? Simeon was not just a believer… but he was looking for The Messiah. At some point prior to this event, God communicated to Simeon that he was going to be included in a unique generation… the only generation who not only looked for the Messiah… but found him.
And following Simeon… there was someone else.
Luke 2:36–38 (NASB95)
36 And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. 38 At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
I don’t want to belabor the point… but have you ever really paid attention to what happened that day Jesus was dedicated? God surrounded Him with people who were looking for him. Here we see Anna. After she saw Jesus she immediately recognized him as the “redemption of Jerusalem”. Then she continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for The Messiah.
As readers of the text, I believe we are expected to understand this as a part of the context of the gospels. It is presented clearly and plainly. When Jesus was on earth… there were people, already justified through faith, that would meet Jesus and “believe in Him” as Messiah. For this unique group of believers… their faith in Jesus was a step of sanctification… just another step of faith in an established relationship with God.
Simeon and Anna didn’t get “saved” that day… at least not the way we understand the term in our 21st-century context. They were already “saved”… they just grew closer to God in their walk of faith.