It’s been so long, Lord. You made a promise from before the beginning of time, and your people have waited. We need Messiah. We were cast out of the garden. Our fathers failed to obey. We continue to turn away from you. Your law only proved how wicked our hearts truly were. We can’t save ourselves. When, Lord? When will the promised deliverer come to restore your people to fellowship with you?
I imagine Simeon cried out words similar to these. He probably prayed repeatedly, all his long life. Do you think he expected an answer? For thousands of years men like him—men who longed for a savior—prayed the same type of prayer.
Will he come in this generation, Lord? We’ve never needed him more than now.
Over the centuries, some men seemed promising—Seth, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Elijah, Daniel…but nope. None were the Messiah. Oh, they served God, and God used them. But they couldn’t bring the long-awaited deliverance. None could restore “God with us.”
None was named Emmanuel.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel. (Isaiah 7:14, ESV)
I think of all the Old Testament prophets, the one most like Simeon, desperately longing for the deliverer was Isaiah. He spoke the very words of God, exposing the nation’s sins, warning of impending judgment, but they stubbornly loved darkness more than light.
And God’s judgment came.
Isaiah experienced the great need for a savior, first hand. He prophesied that God’s chosen people would be killed and enslaved because of their rebellious, prideful hearts. Surrounded by the dark grip of sin and its forthcoming consequences, he longed for light. And he did see that light—far away in the distance—he knew it would come. God said it would.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Is. 9:2)
But who will the light be? Throughout his book, Isaiah learns many of the Promised One’s glorious attributes. We could spend a month digging into them all, but let’s just peek at this one verse, Isaiah 9:6.
For to us a child is born
A child? We’ve seen hints that he would come as a baby, right? Isaac, Moses, Samuel…but now it’s stated outright. “Your new king, the Messiah, will come as a child, an infant.”
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor
He’s the trusted adviser. The one who personifies wisdom. How I need a wise Lord to sort through my muddled, emotional thoughts and to guide me along the best path.
Life relentlessly swirls beyond my ability to control it, but my Jesus is mighty. Nothing shouted of my lack of control as when my heart stopped and I lay in a coma for two days. I was completely helpless, dependent on others, and ultimately on God’s mercy. When I lay dying, he held me in his mighty hand. He still holds me.
It’s crazy, isn’t it? These two phrases, right next to each other.
Mighty God, omnipotent, powerful, able is my …
The great and mighty Lord of the universe has forever been and will always be my father. He won’t stop calling me his child, even if I turn away. Everlasting Abba.
Prince of Peace
Are you looking for peace? You will find peace in only one place—in Jesus! Peace sits at the heart of the Emmanuel promise. Because he has come near to us, we who once raised our fist at him now rest in his loving arms, reconciled. And as we travel this earthly journey, the Prince of Peace’s presence fills us with “the peace that passes all understanding.”
So the light will be a child who is: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. What a beautiful savior. The long-awaited one, the consolation of Israel envelopes all I need.
No wonder Simeon spent his long life waiting for that child.
And then one day, after all the years of praying—an answer.
“Simeon, you will not die before you have met the Messiah!”
“Did I hear you right, Lord? Me? We’ve been waiting for a long, long time. Since you promised Adam and Eve. And now I get to see the Messiah? Me?”
I wonder if he felt unworthy. I would. All the prophets, priests, and kings who went before longed for the day that Simeon would see. And then, like Abraham waited for Isaac, Simeon had to wait for the baby to come.
Is he really coming Lord? I’m getting pretty old here.
And Simeon came in 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.
Oh, what a joyous moment! He came! Emmanuel finally came!
And when Simeon holds the child, he speaks out praises, calling on the light from Isaiah,
For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples. A light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:30-32)
Yes, the light has come.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)
On this last Emmanuel’s Story, Christmas Eve, be filled with the light of Christ. He’s with us, drink him in, bathe in the light of his word, knowing he accepts you fully, not because you aren’t full of darkness, but because he entered the darkness for you.
One last thing, Jesus not only calls himself the light…he calls us the light. We are the light of the world! Isn’t that amazing?
Is your light shining? Arise shine for your light has come! Don’t hide your light, but be like that Bethlehem star that led people to the Savior.
Have a MOST blessed Christmas, dear friends, and remember, he loves you like there’s no tomorrow.
Shine your light: How will you spread the good news about Jesus this year? I’d love to hear your ideas, and I know it would bless others.