Today is Christmas! Throughout the month of December, I have been studying about the women whose stories are told in the Bible around the time that Jesus Christ was born. Their faithfulness and joy were so evident, and their stories reveal the Lord's love and grace. Over the last couple of weeks, I have blogged about two women of Christmas: Mary and Elizabeth. Today I would like to talk about Anna.
Anna is not talked about as often as Mary or Elizabeth. Her story in the Bible is brief, sweet, and often forgotten.
Anna is one of only ten female prophets mentioned in the Bible. [Isaiah's wife (Isaiah 8:3), Deborah (Judges 4:4), Philip's four daughters (Acts 21:8-9), Miriam (Micah 6:4, Exodus 15:20-21), Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14), Huldah (1 Kings 22:14, 2 Chronicles 34:22-28), and Anna (Luke 2:36-38)].
Anna spent all of her time in the temple. She never left, but instead worshiped the Lord all night and all day. The sacrifice and physical toll that came from constant fasting, worship, and remaining within the temple courts 24/7 for at least fifty or sixty years must have been great, but Anna allowed the Lord to sustain her physically, emotionally, and spiritually. She loved and served God with all of her heart.
Preceding Anna's story in the Bible, Mary and Joseph had brought baby Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem in order to present Him to the Lord. In the temple courts, an old man named Simeon who was filled with the Holy Spirit approached them. He lifted Jesus into his arms and said, "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations; a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel" (Luke 2:29-32). The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he saw the Messiah, and now He had come.
The Bible says that Joseph and Mary marveled at Simeon's words. They had been visited by angels; they knew what the Lord had promised them. However, to have such a declaration from a complete stranger spoken over their son must have been a source of great wonder.
At that very moment, Anna approached them. She was also filled with the Holy Spirit who was guiding her to the young Messiah. Anna prophesied about Him. We do not know her words, but we do know that she spoke about Jesus and joyfully thanked the Lord.
What brings me so much encouragement from Anna was the way she proclaimed the truth to everyone who would listen. Simeon was a righteous man. He had the honor of prophesying about the Messiah in the temple courts. But Anna is made known for her proclamations about Jesus. She was one of the first to share the good news about Jesus Christ coming to earth with the public.
Luke 2:38 says, "she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem."
Anna was filled with hope. She trusted God with every moment of her day. She lived among a people who were struggling under the oppression of the Romans. With desperation and discouragement, the Israelites were crying out to God for a Savior to free them from the yoke of their oppressors. They were looking for an earthly king, but Anna found great joy in the sight of a child being presented before the Lord, her Messiah and eternal King.
We live in a world of discouragement and brokenness. We may not be under the oppression of Rome, but we are faced daily with a barrage of sin and hurt and doubt. So many people on this earth are crying out for a Savior.
Let's be like Anna. She rejoiced in the hope of the Lord and she proclaimed redemption to anyone who would hear the good news. Let's thank God for His gift of Jesus Christ, for giving us a child that grew up to be a man who paid the price for our sins on a cross.
Jesus Christ brought redemption to the world. Let's proclaim this with boldness.
Four years ago: Alone, Yet Not Alone