December 20 – Humble and Faithful

“There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.  She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.  She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.  Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Mary and Joseph went to the temple with Jesus because it was customary to offer a purification sacrifice 40 days after giving birth to a male child, and to consecrate the firstborn child to God.  A first-born child, male or female, had to be ‘redeemed’ and thus, in obedience to the law, Mary and Joseph took the Great Redeemer to be redeemed.  “When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord’), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord:  ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeons.’  (Luke 2:22-24)  The cost was 5 shekels when they are one month old, or for a poor family, 2 doves or 2 pigeons.  (Exodus 13:13; Numbers 18:15, 16).  

Anna most likely lived at the temple.  There were a few apartments, mostly for priests, but Anna was either allowed to live in one of these or she spent her time and focus on prayer in the Temple, and thus, it was said that she never left the temple day or night.  

Anna is known for one thing in addition to how she spent her time.  “Coming up to them [Mary and Joseph] at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”  That’s it.  That is all we are told.  She sees the Christ child and his parents, and proclaims first thanks to the Father, and then tells all who were looking forward to the Messiah that He is here.  Under the Law of Moses, a covenant written on stone tablets, the first-born was to be redeemed.  Under the blood of the New Covenant, a covenant written on hearts of flesh, that very child is the Messiah and our Redeemer.

Her purpose in life was to praise God in thanksgiving, and to proclaim the Messiah.  No great ministry results; no ladies’ Bible study daily in the Temple with many attending; no plan laid out at the beginning of her 84 years of life.  Like Sarah, it is in her old age that she is used by God.  

Oh, how we long to leave a legacy behind us of miraculous works and deeds.  Oh, how God requires us to simply walk with Him faithfully and daily, and when HIS time is right, He will open our mouths to His glory.  

Anna.  A life of blessing.  A life of hardships.  A life spent faithfully in prayer and fellowship with God.  And because He chooses, a special blessing after 84 years of faithfulness.  May we have patience and trust to walk humbly, faithfully and long with our God.

Our song for today is Face of God by Phil Wickham.

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